Home News Cargo From Oldest Deep-Sea Shipwreck Discovered Off Israel’s Coast
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Cargo From Oldest Deep-Sea Shipwreck Discovered Off Israel’s Coast

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Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority's (IAA)

Israeli archaeologists have discovered cargo from what is believed to be the oldest deep-sea shipwreck ever found. The remains, dated around 3,300 years ago, were located 90 kilometres off the northern coast of Israel at a depth of 1,800 metres in the eastern Mediterranean.

The discovery included hundreds of intact amphorae (ancient storage jars used by the Canaanite people). This significant discovery was made during a routine oil and gas survey by the company Energean. The jars were spotted by robot submersibles, which captured images of the vessels sunk into the seabed.

Jacob Sharvit, head of the Israel Antiquities Authority’s (IAA) marine unit, emphasised the importance of this discovery. He stated that it reveals “ancient mariners’ navigational skills,” demonstrating that sailors of that era could traverse the Mediterranean Sea using celestial navigation—taking bearings from the sun and stars—despite having no line of sight to any coast.

“This find reveals to us as never before the ancient mariners’ navigational skills. From this geographical point, only the horizon is visible all around. To navigate they probably used the celestial bodies, by taking sightings and angles of the sun and star positions”, said Sharvit.

BBC quoted Dr Karnit Bahartan of Energean describing the discovery as a “truly sensational find.” She noted that this shipwreck was the first from such a great distance with no line of sight to any landmass. This challenges previous academic assumptions that ancient trade routes mainly hugged coastlines for safety.

The IAA believes the ship likely sank during a storm or due to a pirate attack. Only two amphorae were removed from the site using specially designed tools to avoid disturbing the remaining artefacts. The jars are expected to be displayed this summer at the National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel in Jerusalem.

 

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