Sunday, October 03, 2004


Mediterranean Ancient History has Sicilian Base


(AGI) - Aci Castello (Catania), Italy, Oct 2 - The commercial and political history in the ancient Mediterranean area is documented in the relics that are spread generously around the Capo Molini seabed, which is just north of Catania, between Acitrezza e Acireale.

The results of the excavation carried out this summer in that part of the sea, between the coast and the Cyclops Islands were being presented by Edoardo Tortorici, an archaeologist at the University of Catania. He was speaking at the International Under-Water Archaeological Conference being held in Aci Castello.

He said, "The findings that have been studied show the origins of the commercial system. Over the course of more than a thousand years, this operated along Sicily's eastern coast, from the archaic era of maritime trafficking with the ancient Greek colonies (from the 6th to the 1st centuries B.C..) up to the beginning of the Medioeval period (7th century A.D.).

"The products that were traded and that can be established from the amphorae dug up from the seabed are wine, fish sauce and oil. From the archaic to the Hellenistic ages (from the 6th to the 3rd centuries B.C.) most of the products found were for Italian wine (from southern Italy and the Italian islands) and, to a lesser extent, eastern Greece.

From the 2nd century B.C. to the 1st century A.D.", Tortorici said, "there was an increasing amount of Italian and Greek produce. To this was added a considerable amount of conserved fish coming from the western Mediterranean (Spain and Portugal). In the same period, there were wine amphorae coming from Crete and Dalmatia".

The Sicilian underwater archaeologist pointed out that, "The situation was totally turned on its head during the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D., during the height of the Roman Empire, when there was a huge amount of produce (wine and oil) coming from North Africa.

This was proof of the economic and commercial power (and thus also the political power) that came from the African colonies during this period. I would like to remind you that, for example, the emperor Settimio Severo was born in Libya," added Tortorici.

Such wide-ranging produce was proof of the excellent state of the economy around the Mediterranean.

The third and final period that the excavation team studied and to which Tortorici referred, had produce that documented in a very real way the fall of the Roman Empire in the West.

This is shown by the progressive disappearance, on these shores, of African goods and of the huge amount of produce from the Eastern Mediterranean until they disappeared altogether from Anatolia, Crete, Rhodes, Syria, Palestine and Greece.

"It was the new Mediterranean set-up, in which safety at sea when transporting goods could no longer be guaranteed by Rome, but was the responsibility rather of Constantinople".

The total lack of goods coming from countries producing them in the western Mediterranean and Africa is particularly significant.

The waters were now being controlled by criminals and were over-run with pirates to the extent that it was now impossible to go there because commercial trade there was just too dangerous. (AGI) . 021637 OTT 04
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