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This handout image provided by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) on June 20, 2024 shows a robot from London-listed energy firm Energean which operates off Israel, retrieving a jar as part of the discovery of artefacts in a wreck more than a mile deep on the bed of the Mediterranean Sea. Image Credit: AFP

JERUSALEM: A shipwreck more than 3,000 years old with its cargo intact has been found off the northern coast of Israel, the country’s antiquities authority said Thursday.

The wreck and its artefacts were discovered more than a mile deep on the bed of the Mediterranean Sea by London-listed energy firm Energean which operates off Israel.

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A survey by the company uncovered the ship’s cargo of hundreds of amphorae, double-handled jugs that stored goods at sea like wine or olive oil during the Bronze Age.

“The ship seems to have sunk in crisis, either due to a storm or to an attempted piracy attack - a well-known occurrence in the Late Bronze Age,” Jacob Sharvit, head of the Israel Antiquities Authority’s marine unit, said in a statement.

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The wreck was found last year 90 kilometres (56 miles) from the coast of northern Israel and was estimated by officials to date back to the 14th or 13th century BC.

More than three millennia old, the wreck dates from a time when maritime trade started to boom during the Bronze Age.

The Energean team surveying the sea found a large pile of the jugs heaped on the sea floor, the company’s environment lead Karnit Bahartan said.

Image Credit: AFP

“When we sent them (the antiquities authority) the images it turned out to be a sensational discovery, far beyond what we could imagine,” he said.

Sharvit said the location of the find, far out at sea, revealed ancient mariners were able to navigate without a line of sight to any coast, likely using the positions of stars and the sun.

“This is a world-class history-changing discovery,” he said.

Energean conducted an operation to extract some of the storage vessels, which will be presented to the public soon, the authority said.