Skip to comments.Archaeology: Ancient Sailing On High Seas, Evidence In Ustica
Posted on 11/07/2003 8:55:09 AM PST by blam
ARCHAEOLOGY: ANCIENT SAILING ON HIGH SEAS, EVIDENCE IN USTICA
(AGI) - Paestum, Italy, Nov. 7 - Ancient Mediterranean sailors crossed the high seas with techniques of navigation and orentation that we still haven't discovered, contrary to myths that need to be dispelled, such as that the only navigation was local coastal navigation.
New evidence has appeared regarding ancient naval presence on the island of Ustica, discovered by underwater excavation last summer carried out by Giuliano Volpe, archaeology professor at the University of Foggia, supported by "Archeologia viva" and the archaeological superintendence of Palermo.
Many of the traces of these ancient sea visits to Ustica (the island is halfway between Sicily and Sardegna, far from any coast) are exposed in a sunken museum, staged near Ustica, illustrated at the party Borsa Mediterranea del Turismo Archeologico, being developed in Paestum by Piero Pruneti, director of living archaeology.
The underwater visitor who follows the rocky paths of the island, explained Pruneti, will find lead anchors imprinted in the rocks, as a moving testimony to the violence of the winds that crashed against the moorings, forcing sailors to cut their chords and and abandon their anchors on the rocks. "In a normal museum," commented Pruneti, "those contorted seabeds would lose all their spectacular drama."
This underwater archaeological mission, directed by Volpe, on the only sandy seabed in Ustica in front of the port of Cala Santa Maria (a port even in ancient times) has recovered a large quantity of ceramic fragments and amphorae.
The merchandise, thought to date between the third century B.C. and the sixth century A.D., seems to have come from Africa, Spain, and southern Italy in direct to Rome. This shows that Ustica was the port of call for many merchants crossing the western Mediterranean.
According to Volpe, the material from the seabed is only attributable in a small part to shipwrecks, and is more probably earthenware that was discarded because it was broken during the trip and thrown overboard because it was useless and added weight.
"Taking to the high seas," commented Volpe in a phone interview by Agenzia Italia, in anticipation of the report's release in the magazine "L'Archeologo Subacqueo," directed by him, "was safer than local coastal navigation; in this way pirates, dangerous currents, and strong coastal winds were avoided.
We can deduce that ancient sailors had more advanced knowledge and naval instruments than we had thought." (AGI) 071224 NOV 03
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