After spending more than 2,000 years in the waters off Spain's Mediterranean Coast, the contents of an ancient Roman merchant ship are finally being brought to the surface. Horacio Gonzalez Cesteros, a researcher with the Austrian Archaeological Institute of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (OeAW) says in 2018, divers found around 1000 amphorae or ceramic vessels that he calls, "time capsules" that give a glimpse of what Romans were eating and transporting on ships. Amazingly, Gonzalez Cesteros says some of the containers were still sealed, with their contents left undisturbed in the cool darkness 150 feet underwater. He says, "On board the wreck there are three different types of amphorae. All come from Andalusia from the then-Roman province of Baetica, and each has its own content. One contains, for example, salted pieces of fish or fish sauce - some contained grape seeds, others, olive stones. " Gonzalez Cesteros is painstakingly transporting the ancient ceramics to saltwater tanks where they can be examined, and the history of the pieces can be determined.
From its construction, researchers believe the boat carrying the vessels was a medium-sized, official, state-owned Italian ship from the late first century BC. Gonzalez Cesteros says a lot is not yet known about where the ship was heading before it sunk, or what is inside each of these containers, but there was a war going on and the Roman legions needed supplies during that time. The idea of revealing more about the shipwreck is very exciting to researchers and historians. Gonzalez Cesteros says, "These are like time capsules for me. You can discover what was transported and where it was produced. Some people might think these are just containers, but for me, they are part of our social and economic history."
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