For almost 7 decades, archaeologists have been searching in vain for shipwrecks in the Eastern Mediterranean. And finally they were lucky. A British team of researchers stumbled upon wreckage from ships that sank between the 3rd century BC and the 19th century AD. The ships belong to the Roman, early Islamic and Ottoman eras.
Most of all, archaeologists were surprised by the contents of the holds of the ships found. Sean Kingsley of the Enigma Shipwrecks Project (ESP) said: "This is truly one of the most incredible discoveries in the Mediterranean." Examination of these finds, according to experts, can rewrite history.
One of the sunken ships is a 17th century Ottoman merchant ship. The huge cargo he carries contains hundreds of artifacts from 14 different cultures. The ship is believed to have sunk around 1630 and sailed between Egypt and Istanbul. This ship, or rather its cargo, is a "time capsule" that tells the story of the beginning of the globalization of the world.
Chinese porcelain (360 decorated cups, dishes and a bottle from the Chongzhen era) was found on the ship, which was most likely used for drinking coffee in the East. And deep in the hold were earthen pipes for tobacco. In those days, there was a strict ban on smoking tobacco, so the cargo was most likely smuggled.
Chinese porcelain on a sunken ship. Photo: Enigma Recoveries
These findings led researchers to the following conclusion: “Europe may think that it has invented the concept of civilization, but broken coffee cups and tobacco prove that the“barbarian East”was not a backwater, but vice versa. The first London coffee house opened its doors only in 1652, and this is a century after the discovery of the Levant."