Skip to comments.Roman shipwrecks From the wine-dark sea
Posted on 07/02/2005 10:26:12 PM PDT by SunkenCiv
We returned again to the Skerki Bank site in 1997 with ROV Jason and also with the US Navy's NR-1 nuclear submarine. In all, eight shipwrecks were located in an area of about 210 square nautical miles at a depth of about 800 m. The NR-1 was particularly useful in identifying the shipwreck sites with its powerful forward looking sonar that could spot ancient amphoras at a distance of 1000 m. Five of the wrecks found are Roman with one medieval fishing vessel and two nineteenth century wooden sailing ships. The Roman shipwrecks span a period of time from about 100 B.C. to 400 A.D, documenting a major trade route between ancient Carthage and Rome over the open seas. That there was a quick, direct route over the open ocean between North Africa and Rome has long been known. The Roman orator, Cato the Elder, in the first half of the second century B.C. showed the senate in Rome a fig that "had been picked at Carthage three days before" (Plin. HN 15.75). What scholars did not know before was that the route crossed over the treacherous Skerki Bank reef. This paper will focus on three of the Roman wrecks and their cargoes from Skerki Bank ranging in date from the first century B.C. to the fourth century A.D., covering the span of Roman trade.
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If the heavily traveled route between Italy and N. Africa actually went over this 'treacherous reef' that is near the surface, I'd expect to find a lot more ships than five.
Sailors aren't stupid and don't put their ships as risk unnecesarily. My guess is that these ships probably strayed over the reef by accident or were driven by storms.
"Who's been reading Patrick O'Brian?! " -- Alkhin
here's a :'D even though I don't know who that is. :')
"Sailors aren't stupid and don't put their ships as risk unnecesarily. My guess is that these ships probably strayed over the reef by accident or were driven by storms." -- wildbill
Wholeheartedly agree! Hugging the coastline is something else they would have avoided, sailing straight in and out of ports, unless they knew that coastline like the backs of their hands (and in the case of the seas by Sicily, probably not then either).
less brave romans hugged the coastlines.
Just updating the GGG info, not sending a general distribution.
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