TIRANA, Albania -- A U.S.-Albanian archaeological mission said yesterday it has found the well-preserved wreck of a Roman cargo ship off Albania, complete with 300 wine jars -- all empty, alas.
The 32-yard-long wreck dates to the 1st century BC, and its cargo is believed to have been the produce of southern Albanian vineyards en route to western European markets.
A statement from the Key West, Fla.-based RPM Nautical Foundation said the find was made this month about 54 yards deep near the port city of Vlora, 90 miles southwest of the capital, Tirana. The foundation, in cooperation with Albanian archaeologists, has been surveying a swath of Albania's previously unexplored coastal waters for five years. So far, experts have located 20 shipwrecks, including several relatively modern ones.
"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," said Albanian archaeologist Adrian Anastasi.
Officials said most of the jars, known in Greek as amphoras and used to transport wine and oil, were unbroken despite the shipwreck. But the stoppers used to seal them had gone, allowing their contents to leak out into the water.