3,300-year-old cargo revealed at bottom of Mediterranean Sea

New Delhi: An over 3,300-year-old ship’s cargo of hundreds of intact Canaanite storage amphorae was revealed at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea, 90 km off Israel’s coast, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) and the London-based gas and oil company Energean said in a joint statement on Thursday.

The IAA said that under the cargo, found 1.8 km deep in the sea, is probably the skeleton of a 12-14 meter-long ship, as yet unexcavated, the oldest found in the world in the deep seas.

Last year, the ship was discovered by an underwater robot during a survey by Energean, which operates in the Israeli gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Energean and the IAA recently conducted a complex operation to extract two sample amphorae from opposite ends of the ship to minimize disturbance to the intact assemblage of the ship and its cargo.

The IAA noted that the ship likely sank due to a storm or an attempted piracy attack, which were common events in the late Bronze Age.

Examination revealed that the amphora type found in the cargo was designed for efficiently transporting relatively cheap, mass-produced products such as oil, wine, and other agricultural goods like fruit.

The large quantity of amphorae on board indicates significant commercial ties between their country of origin and the ancient Near Eastern lands on the Mediterranean coast, the IAA said.

It added that this period saw a rise in international commerce, with organised commercial networks, tax collection, and trade supervision.

Advancements in ship manufacturing allowed for greater cargo volumes, boosting the status of port cities in the eastern Mediterranean, with goods transported in amphorae to the Aegean Sea, Crete, and Mycenaean Greece.

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