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Ancient Roman vessel discovered off Sicilian coast

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By Josephine Joly  & Matthew Holroyd with AP
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An ancient Roman was carrying a copious cargo of wine amphorae, an ancient storage jar usually found on ships.
An ancient Roman was carrying a copious cargo of wine amphorae, an ancient storage jar usually found on ships.   -   Copyright  ARPA (Regional Environment Agency in Sicily) via AP Photo
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An ancient Roman vessel dating back to the second century BC has been discovered in the Mediterranean Sea off the Sicilian coast of Palermo.

The ship, lying at a depth of 92 metres near Isola delle Femmine, is one of a number of wrecks found in recent weeks by Italian researchers.

Images from the dive site, taken by a submarine robot, indicate that the ship was carrying a copious cargo of wine amphorae, an ancient storage jar usually found on ships.

The discovery was described as one of the most important archaeological finds in recent years, and the Regional Italian Agency for Environment Protection (ARPA) has estimated that the ship is more than 2000 years old.

"We found a noticeable number of amphorae of different sizes and different shapes. They were initially estimated as dating back to the second century BC," said Vincenzo Infantino, ARPA's Sicily Director.

Archeologists hope the wreck will shed light on Rome’s historic trade activity in the Mediterranean, where the Romans traded spices, wine, olives and other products in north Africa, Spain, France and the Middle East.

Every year, oceanographers and police work together to locate ancient shipwrecks to try and combat the sale of artefacts on the black market.

Watch the full video report in the player above.