Hundreds of rare Roman pots discovered by accident off Italy's coast by British research ship
A British underwater research team has discovered hundreds of rare Roman pots by accident, while trawling the wreckages of ships on the sea bed.
The team had been using remote operated vehicles (ROVs) to scour modern wrecks for radioactive materials.
They were amazed to come across the remains of a Roman galley which sank off the coast of Italy thousands of years ago.
The crew from energy company Hallin Marine International, based in Aberdeen, found a number of ancient pots lying in the mud 1,640ft below the waves.
After the first sighting the crew worked around the clock for two days to bring them to the surface without damaging them.
Supervisor Dougie Combe said the team managed to recover five of the 2,000 year-old vessels intact. They cleared debris off them using water jets.
They were then handed over to an archaeology museum in the historic Graeco-Roman city of Paestum, in northern Italy.
Mr Combe, from Speyside, Scotland, said: 'They would have probably been loaded on some kind of merchant ship which sank all those years ago.'
He added: 'It was a big surprise when we came across the pots as we were looking for modern wrecks from the last 20 years or so.
'It's certainly the oldest thing we've come across on the seabed.
'We managed to get five up altogether, but there must have been hundreds of them there.'
The Mare Oceano was searching for low-grade radioactive material alongside Italian company GeoLab when they made the discovery.
They were trawling off the coast of Capo Palinuro, near Policastro, Italy.
The jars that were found are believed to be ancient Greek or Roman and are thought to date back at least 2,000 years.
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