Roman shipwrecks have been found at two locations to the north of Sicily, reflecting the good reputation earned by the Italian island’s wine in ancient times.
The first site was discovered 80m deep off the small island of Ustica, 32 miles north of Sicily, and has been investigated by technical divers. The operation, co-ordinated by the regional Superintendence of the Sea or SopMare, the equivalent of the Receiver of Wreck, began in May.
The dive-team was led by underwater documentary-maker Riccardo Cingillo and Prof Timmy Gambin of the University of Malta, in collaboration with Ustica’s Mare Nostrum dive-centre and the Coast Guard of the Guardia di Finanza.
Italy’s financial crime investigation unit is involved in such surveys because of growing concerns about black-market trade in artefacts illegally salvaged from ancient wrecks.
The site consisted of heavily concreted amphoras concentrated in a small area, with broken ceramics dispersed over a 14m-wide debris field. The main body of jars are thought to lie on top of more compact layers buried in the sand.