A team of archaeologists using sonar technology to scan the seabed have discovered a "graveyard" of five pristine ancient Roman shipwrecks off the small Italian island of Ventotene.
The trading vessels, dating from the first century BC to the fifth century AD, lie more than 100 meters underwater and are amongst the deepest wrecks discovered in the Mediterranean in recent years, the researchers said on Thursday, informs Reuters.
The ships are submerged between 100 and 150 meters (about 330 to 490 feet) off Ventotene, a tiny island that is part of an archipelago off Italy's west coast between Rome and Naples.
The ships carried amphorae — vases used for holding wine, olive oil and other products — as well as kitchen tools and metal and glass objects that have yet to be identified, Italy's Culture Ministry said. The spot was highly trafficked, and hit by frequent storms and dangerous sea currents.
The discovery is part of a new drive by archaeological officials to scan deeper levels of the sea and prevent looting of submerged treasures, The Associated Press reports.
"The ships appear to have been heading for safe anchorage, but they never made it," Timmy Gambin, head of archaeology for the Aurora Trust told Reuters.
"So in a relatively small area we have five wrecks...a graveyard of ships."
Discovered about 100 meters underwater near the Italian island of Ventotene, the ships were carrying wine from Italy, fish sauce, known as garum from Spain and north Africa, and metal ingots from Italy, believed to have been used in statues or weapons, reports RedOrbit.
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