Sicilian secrets revealed

06 Jul 2015
The cargo was carried in amphorae that were found nearly intact

The cargo was carried in amphorae that were found nearly intact

A joint expedition has recently created three-dimensional underwater maps of Roman shipwrecks in the Aeolian Islands. A team of scientists and experts under the direction of the Professor Sebastiano Tusa, Superintendent of the Seas for Sicily, set out to investigate Roman shipwrecks, originally discovered by Aurora Trust Foundation in 2009 and 2010.

The depths at which these wrecks lie, are far beyond the capabilities of regular SCUBA divers. With the use of an advanced 3-person submersible, the C-Explorer 3 built by U-Boat Worx, the wrecks could be investigated in great detail. “It’s the first time we are using a manned submersible to explore these ancient sites. They are found up to depths of 150 metres” said Professor Tusa.

The wrecks, once small wooden cargo vessels, have almost entirely vanished as the result of more than 2,000 years in the sea water. The only remaining evidence of the vessels is the cargo that was carried in amphorae that were found nearly intact.

During the dive missions experts collected over 500 photographs of each wreck site, which were later compiled in two-dimensional and three-dimensional photomosaics. The technique of utilising a manned submersible to gather photos sufficient to construct a photomosaic was never used before on these sort of wrecks. This brings the scientists face-to-face with this ancient cultural event to help analyse the origin of the shipment, the likely cargo and probable date of the wreck.

By Jake Frith

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