American and Albanian archaeologists have discovered a well preserved Roman shipwreck full of wine jars off the coast of Albania.
Dating to the 1st century B.C., the 98 foot-long cargo ship was found about 130 feet deep near the port city of Vlora.
Most of the of the jars, or amphoras, lay unbroken on the sea floor. Unfortunately, they were empty, since their stoppers had gone.
"The ship is one among five ancient wrecks we discovered last month.The other four were just north in Montenegro," archaeologist Jeff Royal, of the RPM Nautical Foundation, told Discovery News.
The coasts of both Albania and Montenegro remained unexplored until 2007, when Florida-based RPM Nautical Foundation initiated a coastal survey aimed at identifying submerged archaeological artifacts in both countries.
"Thus far nine ancient wrecks have been discovered in Montenegro and eight in Albania that span the period of the 6th century B.C. through the 4th century A.D.," said Royal.
According to Royal, three of the shipwrecks discovered this season are associated with a flourishing wine trade industry in what is now central Croatia.
The trade developed shortly after the Roman entry into ancient Illyria, a region in the western part of the Balkan Peninsula which included present-day Albania.
"Large cargoes of these amphoras were shipped down the eastern Adriatic coast from Croatia, along the modern Montenegrin and Albanian coasts to about Vlore where most traversed westward and rounded Italy into the western Mediterranean," said Royal.
The sites will be left unexplored, and the retrieved jars restored to the wrecks, until local archaeologists will be in a position to carry the excavations.
"These finds provide each country's government the opportunities to protect their cultural heritage, train their first maritime archaeologists, and collaborate with established institutions in further study," Royal said.