A jug recovered by an archaeological dive-team from the 110m-deep oldest-known shipwreck in the central Mediterranean could prove that the Maltese islands were a key part of the Phoenician trade network.
Marine archaeologist Timothy Gambin of the University of Malta has told the Sunday Times of Malta that if, as suspected, the jug comes from Gozo, it would prove that the ship had been departing after trading in the Maltese islands, rather than simply passing by.
The 2700-year-old Phoenician vessel was discovered off Gozo’s north-western coast in 2014.
Spread over a 60sq m area, it was surveyed by the Groplan Project, which concluded that apart from the visible amphoras and grinding stones at wreck level, archaeological remains extended to a depth of some 2m beneath the seabed, and probably included ship’s timbers.
Two amphoras, an urn and a grinding stone were raised before bad weather cut short the expedition.
This year, a team of 12 technical divers from the UK, France, Malta, Italy and Finland, armed with a list of items to recover, undertook a 140-minute scuba-dive of the site. It’s highly unusual for archaeologists to work at such a depth on scuba unsupported by submersibles.
Items recovered without excavating the seabed included the jug and a large storage container of a shape not seen before, both thought to have originated in Malta, as well as amphoras from North Africa and western Sicily.
Fragments of an amphora were being tested for organic remains in the hope of learning what it contained.
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