On Thursday, the Republic of Cyprus’ Department of Antiquities announced that a duo of volunteer divers’ efforts in the Mediterranean Sea had led to a major discovery that officials say may bring more understanding of historical trade patterns and practices in the region, especially regarding Roman provinces.
“The site is a wreck of a Roman ship, loaded with transport amphorae, most probably from Syria and Cilicia,” a Roman province in what is today southeastern Turkey. “It is the first undisturbed Roman shipwreck ever found in Cyprus,” the departmental release noted Thursday.
An amphora is a two-handle storage pot with a circular mouth, elongated neck and large body that sometimes tapers off at the base. The vessels generally contained liquids such as wine or foods such as grain, olives or grapes.
Spyros Spyrou and Andreas Kritiotis, volunteer divers with the University of Cyprus Archaeological Research Unit’s Maritime Archaeological Research Laboratory (MARELab), are said to have alerted the Department of Antiquities immediately after discovering the shipwreck off the eastern Cypriot coast.
Their report brought about the country’s first underwater archaeology project to be funded in full by the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Works.
“The team is working on the documentation and protection of the site, in collaboration with Dr. Dimitris Skarlatos, Associate Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering and Geoinformatics, Cyprus University of Technology, and Eleni Loizides, Conservator at the Department of Antiquities,” claims the departmental release, adding that the find provides new hope of learning more about Cyprus’ history and cultural heritage.