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Roman ship found laden with cargo

Scientist believe a ship found near Genoa dates back 2,000 years. NBC News' Al Stirrett reports.


A Roman trading ship from the time of the Caesars has been discovered off the coast of Italy, reportedly in such good condition that some of the food may still be preserved inside the storage jars.

Following up on a tip from local fishermen, police divers used a remotely operated vehicle to locate the ship, which was preserved within layers of mud at a depth of 230 feet (70 meters) in the waters near the port city of Genoa. The ship is thought to date back to sometime between the 1st century B.C. and the 2nd century — when Julius Caesar and his imperial heirs held sway in Rome.


Discovery News' Rossella Lorenzi reports that the ship sank on a trade route between Spain and central Italy with a cargo of more than 200 jars, known as amphorae. Some of the jars were caught in fishing nets, which led to the underwater search. Tests indicated that the jars contained pickled fish, grain, wine and oil.

"There are some broken jars around the wreck, but we believe that most of the amphorae inside the ship are still sealed and food-filled," Discovery News quotes Lt. Col. Francesco Schilardi of the police-diving unit as saying.

Police are guarding the site while archaeologists decide what to do with the wreck.

More about underwater archaeology:

Smuggled cargo found on Roman shipwreck

Wine-carrying ship goes back 2,300 years

Lost city of Atlantis believed found off Spain

Captain Morgan's lost fleet found?


Alan Boyle is NBCNews.com's science editor. Connect with the Cosmic Log community by "liking" the log's Facebook page, following @b0yle on Twitter and adding the Cosmic Log page to your Google+ presence. To keep up with Cosmic Log as well as NBCNews.com's other stories about science and space, sign up for the Tech & Science newsletter, delivered to your email in-box every weekday. You can also check out "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for new worlds.