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Storms shift sand on ocean floor to uncover 2000-year-old shipwreck



One lucky swimmer diving off the coast of Israel has made the discovery of a lifetime, stumbling across an almost 2000-year-old Roman-era shipwreck. 

The wreckage, found sitting atop the ocean floor, was previously nestled beneath a mountain of sand which had recently been shifted thanks to recent storms.

Experts say they were aware that the ancient shipwreck existed, but had never been able to pinpoint exactly where – until the diver's miraculous luck.

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Koby Sharvit, director of the underwater archaeology unit at the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), said it's likely that weather conditions helped uncover the wreck from its deep-sea slumber.

"Such storms often blow up suddenly along the country's coast," Sharvit said, according to Live Science.

"And due to the ships' limited maneuvering potential, they are often dragged into the shallow waters and shipwrecked."

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Sharvit explained that the marble could have originated in Turkey or Greece and was traveling south "possibly (to) Alexandria in Egypt."

After further inspections by archaeologists, it was revealed that the ancient Roman-era ship was carrying 40 metric tonnes of marble, including "Corinthian columns adorned with ornate vegetal patterns, capitals and marble columns measuring some six metres long".

The find marks the oldest known sea cargo wreck in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Based on the size of the elements, scientists determined that based on the size of the ship, it "could bear a cargo of at least 200 tonnes" – equivalent to roughly 30 adult male African elephants.

The diver who made the discovery, Gideon Harris, found the wreck several weeks ago, and reported it to the IAA this week.

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