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Roman shipwreck laden with amphorae found off the coast of Italy's Portofino

More than 2,000 Roman amphorae dated to the first century BC were found in a shipwreck carrying a cargo of wine off the coast of Portofino in Italy's Liguria region.

Roman shipwreck laden with amphorae found off the coast of Italy's Portofino
Some of the amphorae carried by the Late Republican wreck located off the coast 
of Portofino in Italy's Liguria region [Credit: ANSA]
Exploration of the wreck started last may when a fisherman from Santa Margherita Ligure found four amphorae stamped with the initials of the Roman general Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus. The amphorae were also stamped with the names of the furnace and slave that produced them.

Guido Gay, an engineer specialized in recovering wrecks, described the operation that led to the discovery of the wreck with the aid of a special robotic submarine yesterday in a crowded presentation at Santa Margherita Ligure.

The size of the amphorae heap taken from sonar scanning suggests that the size of the wreck is about 25 metres in length and carried a cargo of around 2,000-2,500 amphorae.

The cargo ship had a capacity of around 100-150 tons, which represents the average tonnage of Roman cargo ships hauling wine in the Late Republican Period.

The finding adds further evidence of the commercial activity between Southern Tuscany and Gaul.

"In this important wine production area", explains Simon Luca Trigona of the Archaeological Superintendence, "the estates of the great senatorial aristocratic family of the Domitii Enobarbi were concentrated. To this family belonged the consul Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus, the Roman general who in 121 defeated the Gallic tribes of the Arveni and of the Allobroges."

"It is no coincidence then that the stamps found on Santa Margherita Ligure amphorae are concentrated in central Gaul, the geographic area where the wars conducted by Domitius took place and, in all probability, the target market of the wine transported by the wreck."

Source: ANSA [October 15, 2016]

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