By Clara Moskowitz - MSNBC/LiveScience
The examination of a Mediterranean shipwreck from the 4th century B.C. could shed light on ancient sea routes and trade, researchers say.
The remains of a merchant vessel, full of amphoras that probably had been filled with wine, were discovered in 2006 on the seafloor south of the island of Cyprus. A team has been excavating the site, diving and dredging up important pieces, since then.
The wreck was first discovered in 2006 by fishermen. One of the ship's anchors was also uncovered.
The particularly well-preserved remains, especially the amphoras, which were oval, narrow-necked vases, reveal many clues about the ship's story, the research team says in a new paper.
"We know by having studied a lot of these ceramic containers — we have created catalogs with different shapes — we know where they come from and where they date," said Stella Demesticha, a professor of maritime archaeology at the University of Cyprus, who is leading the shipwreck research team.
The amphoras found at this site, she said, are very typical of those made on the Greek island of Chios in the Aegean Sea.
"We know the red wine from Chios was praised," Demesticha told LiveScience. "It was very good quality, very expensive."
A large collection of olive pits was also discovered at the shipwreck site. The scientists don't know whether the olives were packed as a source of food for sailors or were a commodity to be sold.