Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Treasure of incalculable value has lain just off La Manga.

Buried beneath shells, rocks and sand, for 2,600 years, while the construction boom has been completely changing the surrounding landscape, a treasure of incalculable value has lain just off La Manga. 26 centuries later, archaeologists from eleven countries are bringing these antique objects to the light of day once again. The find appears to be the cargo of a commercial ship carrying ivory from African elephants, amber and lots of ceramic objects. The find has been kept secret for the past three years by the team of divers led by the Spaniard Juan Pinedo Reyes and the American Mark Edward Polzer. The recovery project is being financed by National Geographic, who have reached an agreement with the Spanish Minister of Culture, the Institute of Nautical Archaeology and the University A&M of Texas. The recovery is taking place around Grosa Island and El Farallon Island, just off La Manga. Over the last three years 1,400 objects have been collected. Even some of the wood from the bottom of the ship has survived since the 7th Century before Christ (620 BC), and has been recovered. It is believed the vessel measured approximately 15 metres long.

The find has been described as one of the most important of all archaeological discoveries. The Ivory tusks measure between 70 and 150 centimetres, with Phoenician writing inscribed. They have come from a race of elephants which are now believed to be extinct. There are also copper ingots and stones containing silver and lead. Ceramic pots which were used for transporting fish and oil have been found too, as well as plates, bowls, combs, ivory knife handles, bronze needles and chandeliers.

It is believed the ship crashed into rocks off the island, which are just a metre and a half below the surface. The ship would have set sail from Cadiz, and was probably heading towards Guardamar to a factory there, or to deliver items to a prince living in the area.

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