A local swimmer found a Roman-era marble cargo ship off the coast of Israel’s Yanai beach in mid-April, according to video footage and reports.
Gideon Harris made the discovery, The Jerusalem Post reported Monday. He dove down roughly four meters and came upon the 1,800-year-old shipwrecked cargo, according to a video shared by Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).
IAA archaeologist Kobi Shavit said the columns found by Harris are part of at least 44 tons of marble blocks that were on their way to a Roman port, The Times of Israel reported.
The discovery may be the oldest of its kind in the eastern Mediterranean, and was revealed after winter storms pushed away more than a millennia of sand, the outlet continued. Initial investigations into the site revealed decorated Corinthian capitals, partially-carved capitals and a six-meter marble architrave or door lintel.
Sharvit said there are no visible remains of the ship carrying the cargo, which was estimated to be able to transport at least 200 tons, according to The Jerusalem Post. Undersea excavations are due to start in late May, with students from the University of Rhode Island expected to join. (RELATED: 3000-Year-Old Evidence Of Brain Surgery Discovered In Ancient City)
“Such storms often blow up suddenly along the country’s coast and due to the ships’ limited maneuvering potential, they are often dragged into the shallow waters and shipwrecked,” Sharvit told The Times. Most wood washes ashore after wrecks, where it would have been reused or recycled by our ancestors in the region, he added.