Italy TravelAncient Roman Ship Found Off Sardinia

Ancient Roman Ship Found Off Sardinia
Published on Friday, July 10, 2015 by

sardinia-coastItalian divers recently reached a sunken cargo ship full of roofing tiles off the coast of Sardinia.  The ship and its cargo are 2,000 years old, a Roman find of “great archaeological value,” says the police statement issued to announce the discovery. Not only can the find provide information about ships and their construction, it sheds light on marine logistics, construction and housing in ancient Rome.

The ship dates back to the 1st or 2nd century AD, and has been intact at about 150 feet underwater near Santa Teresa Gallura, on the strait separating Sardinia from Corsica. At 60 feet long and 23 feet wide, it contained both flat and curved terracotta tiles that were probably produced in Rome.

According to Discovery News, these tiles would have made up a roof built in the Roman “imbrex and tegula” pattern, wherein the flat (tegula) tiles were laid out on a roof with the curved (imbrex) tiles covering the joints, creating rain channels that kept a house dry. Some Roman imbrices and tegulae were made from bronze or marble, but all the tiles found in the sunken ship were of everyday red clay. This roofing system can be seen on many houses today all over Italy.

Some experts posit the ship was bound for Spain, and may have capsized due to the weight of the tiles. In the short video linked to above, viewers can see rows and rows of well-ordered tiles that look ready to be delivered to a modern homeowner ready to renovate in classic Mediterranean style.

While the exact location of the ship is currently being held back in order to discourage looters, officials hope that one day the ship and its contents might become a tourist attraction.

Photo by Mike Bean,

By Kathy McCabe

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