Ship sunk in the 18th century in the Red Sea
A team from the University of Alexandria has recently discovered the prow of a merchant ship sunk around 1765.
The stern and the central part had already been found in 1994 by a group of American archaeologists, but until now the last remains of the ship had not been located. Based on the excavations already carried out at the site, the researchers hope to find in the future remains of the commercial products it was transporting.
Among the coral reefs around the island of Sadana, off the eastern coast of Egypt, numerous remains of various shipwrecks have appeared over time, but most have been looted.
Among the objects rescued so far there are parts of the helmet, numerous ceramic fragments and even some bottles of liquor. At the same time, archaeologists have carried out a photogrammetric map of the remains in order to obtain a three-dimensional image of the ship, which has been left in situ for conservation.
In the middle of the 18th century, the Red Sea was a very busy area. It was the main point of contact between Asia and Africa and was part of the famous Silk Road, where goods and ideas were exchanged between Europe, the Islamic world and the Far East.
The ships left Egypt loaded with grain, vegetables and iron, to return with all kinds of exotic products obtained in the markets of Arabia. To this exchange was added that of the thousands of religious pilgrims who came each year to Mecca aboard these same boats as an alternative to the expensive and slow caravans.
Thanks to the excavation campaigns carried out between 1995 and 1998, the archaeologists discovered that the ship was loaded with products at the time of crashing against the coral reef and sinking, probably due to a storm.
But the main loot that archaeologists have obtained are the more than 4,000 artifacts, currently kept in the Egyptian city of Alexandria. Among them, 200 plates and 300 china porcelain cups stand out, accompanied by 850 ceramic bottles, and 40 large jugs destined to transport provisions. Among the many other items that have been found are clay pipes, tobacco boxes, glass bottles, censers, and copper dishes. But undoubtedly the most spectacular find found is an inscribed pot belonging to the ship’s captain, Musa Mahmoud, thanks to which it has been possible to date the sinking sometime after 1764.
In addition, as explained by Unesco, the ship is very different from other ships of this period, which would imply not only an intensive commercial link between East and West, but also the different naval traditions of the time. “She is a unique example of cultural and economic exchange along the Maritime Silk Road”