A ship of Greek ceramics from the 7th century BC, discovered in Italy in 2019, sheds new light on Magna Graecia, the area of southern Italy that was founded by ancient Greeks. The ship, submerged at 780 meters depth, has now been recovered in the Otranto canal, in southern Italy.
Its study has revealed new aspects about the history and trade of the Italian territory called Magna Graecia in which the Greek settlers came to live, the Italian Ministry of Culture revealed today.
Twenty-two pieces of fine ceramics and transport containers from the Corinth region that were part of the wreck’s cargo were located with the help of a remote-controlled submarine, equipped with high-tech instruments.
La definiscono già l'impresa subacquea che riscrive le pagine di storia della Magna Grecia.Le profonde acque del Canale di Otranto restituiscono storia e un carico di un’antica nave corinzia.Ceramiche greche e contenitori da trasporto del VIIsecolo a.c erano a 780m.di profondita’ pic.twitter.com/7SkXryUZkP
— Franco Scarsella (@FrancoScarsell2) October 16, 2021
The amphorae and other vessels found in the wreckage of the ship were first spotted in 2018 during operations for a pipeline that brings natural gas to Italy from Azerbaijan. They “constitute a unique finding of the kind,” declared the Italian Minister of Culture, Darío Franceschini.
Superintendent of the excavation, underwater archaeologist Barbara Davidde explained that the pieces are “part of the cargo of the first shipwreck dating from the early 7th century BC. found in the Adriatic Sea.”
“The discovery offers us historical data that narrates the oldest stages of the Mediterranean trade at the dawn of Magna Graecia, and of the mobility flows in the Mediterranean basin,” revealed the Director of Italian Museums, Massimo Osanna. He visited the restoration laboratory of the National Superintendence for Underwater Cultural Heritage.
Greeks settled in southern Italy, founded Magna Graecia
Magna Graecia includes the southern part of Italy. There, the Greeks expanded and founded cities famous for their wealth and culture, such as Reggio, Naples and Syracuse, among others.
The amazingly intact cargo “sheds light on the early stages of ancient Greek colonization in southern Italy, thanks also to the significant state of conservation. It allows us to understand what the Greeks were transporting,” said Davidde.
That was more than just food such as olives; it also included bottles of wine, which were considered prestigious assets and highly appreciated also by the people there. The Ministry of Culture plans to recover the entire shipment, made up of some 200 pieces scattered on the bottom.
They will be restored and subjected to both archeometric analysis on the materials and archaeobotanical analysis on organic and plant residues. Those residues could still be present in the sediment that fills many of the recovered ceramics. Among these is one of the Corinthian amphorae — in which remains of olive stones were found.
“We are a country surrounded by the sea and we have a rich submerged cultural heritage that still needs to be studied, safeguarded and valued,” said the Minister.
“The recent investigations of the Otranto Canal confirm that it is a very rich heritage, capable of giving us back not just the treasures hidden in our seas, but even our history,” he added.