An U.S.-Albanian expedition recently found an impressive shipwreck with a set of well-preserved jars believed to date back as far as the 1st century B.C. The antique relics were found by a team of scientific experts who were scuba diving off Albania's south-western coast.
The Roman shipwreck found by group of divers, who were on an archaeological mission is believed to be cargo ship, complete with some 300 wine jars (also known as amphoras, as per their official Greek name).
"Taking into consideration the date and also the depth — which is well suited for excavation — I would include it among the top 10 most scientifically interesting wrecks found in the Mediterranean," one of the scuba divers that participated in the project, Albanian archaeologist Adrian Anastasi revealed.
The wreck found measured at 30 metres long and was believed to transport the produce of southern Albanian vineyards to various western European markets, including France.
According to a statement released by Key West, Florida-based RPM Nautical Foundation, the shipwreck was found early this month at a depth of 50 metres under the ocean's surface, near the port city of Vlora, at 140 kilometres' distance of the capital, Tirana.
Experts revealed that most of the jars or "amphoras" found used to transport wine and oil. They were found in an almost intact condition, unbroken despite the shipwreck. But despite this, the stoppers used to seal them had gone, allowing their contents to leak out into the saltwater.
Mission leader George Robb added that the ship could have been part of a flourishing trade in local wine.
"Ancient Illyria, which includes present day Albania, was a major source of supply for the western Mediterranean, including present day France and Spain,' Robb explained.
Members of the scuba diving team retrieved one amphora for examination, before restoring it to the wreck.
The mission which took about a month, ended last week and there are plans for it to be resumed again next year. According to Albanian coordinator Auron Tare, it will eventually cover the whole Albanian coastline.
"These five years have shown how rich the Albanian underwater coastline is, and how interesting it could be for international tourists," he said.
In full co-operation with Albanian archaeologists, the foundation has been surveying a swathe of Albania's previously unexplored coastal waters for the past five years. And so far, experts have located as many as 20 shipwrecks — including several relatively modern ones.
Whilst Albania is not considered to be among the group of top scuba diving destinations in the world, it definitely is an exotic one to try and one that could certainly prove fascinating scuba diving holidays. Far from the appeal of more traditional scuba diving locations in the Caribbean, what Albania has is a wealth of historic diving locations, with many ancient shipwrecks and underwater caves to explore.