A Phoenician shipwreck discovered off the coast of Malta is believed to be the oldest wreck ever found in the Mediterranean, the Telegraph reports. According to the international team of archaeologists who discovered the roughly 50-foot-long ship, it is approximately 2,700 years old and sank while traveling from Sicily to Malta.
Chief researcher Timoth Gambin claims that the artifacts discovered within the wreck include 20 grinding stones and 50 amphorae, a type of tall Greco-Roman vessel used for transporting both liquid and dry goods.
“This discovery is considered to be unique … because it is the oldest shipwreck in the central Mediterranean and is in a fantastic state of preservation,” Gambin told the Times of Malta. He and his team have collected over 8,000 photographs of the site in the months since it was discovered. The discovery was initially not reported due to fears of looting.
They are currently combining the photographs into a “very high-resolution 3D model of the site.” The research team, comprised of individuals from the US, France, and Malta, has only subsequently specified that the site is located approximately one mile off the cost of Gozo Island.
The Phoenician society originated in what is now Lebanon and commanded an increasingly dominant swath of the southern Mediterranean from 1550 BC to 300 BC. Among numerous other achievements, they are credited with spreading use of the phonetic alphabet. Despite that sizable influence over modern society, relatively little is known about the Phoenician people, especially their ships.
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