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Dolce Discovery: Neolithic Ship Cargo, Ancient Artifacts Found in Italy Near Roman Emperor's Bathing Area

Ancient Find Hailing From the Stone Age Found Off the Coast of Italy
Source: Superintendency of the Metropolitan Area of Naples

A Police diver exploring what is believed to be a shipwreck.

Jan. 10 2024, Published 9:03 a.m. ET

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Italian police divers in Naples have uncovered what they suspect are submerged artifacts that date back to the era of Roman Emperor Tiberius, or around AD 14-37.

The recent underwater discovery revealed a cache of artifacts, including obsidian, in an area deeper than initially anticipated.

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Superintendent Mariano Nuzzo, in collaboration with archaeologist Luca di Franco and subaquatic archaeology experts, led the exploration, supported by Naples' diving unit and the Carabinieri’s Territorial Support. During their meticulous examination, the groups discovered a broad range of evidence at depths ranging from 98 feet to over 130 meters, IFL Science reported.

Among the recovered artifacts is a piece believed to be part of a Neolithic ship's cargo, measuring approximately 8 inches by 11 inches, with a height of 6 inches and a weight of nearly 17.5 pounds.

The artifact, an obsidian chunk, displays signs of carving and craftsmanship, according to the Greek Reporter. The treasure will undergo cleaning and restoration before being housed at Nuzzo’s facilities.

Nuzzo emphasized the need for an extensive survey of the seabed to verify the possible presence of a hull or additional cargo material. He acknowledged the upcoming challenges, noting that salvageability would be influenced by the seabed's depths.

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Planned recovery operations, in collaboration with the National Superintendence for Underwater Cultural Heritage, aim to shed light on Capri's ancient history and the broader Mediterranean region during prehistoric times.

The discovery, near the renowned Grotta Azzurra, or Blue Lagoon, a favored bathing spot for Roman emperors, is speculated to be a shipwreck. Although the Neolithic period's human activity on Capri remains largely unknown, evidence suggests activity on various Mediterranean islands during that era.

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Tools found on Crete, dating back 130,000 years, suggest the possibility of a Neanderthal sailing from the Near East to Europe. Ancient tools on Melos have also been interpreted as evidence of seagoing hominids around half a million years ago, supporting the notion of early maritime activity.

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