Dead rats helped solve the mystery of the lost ship

(ORDO NEWS) — Archaeologists from the University of Haifa (Israel) in the laboratory studied the wreckage of a ship that sank about 1400 years ago and was found a few years ago at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea. The remains of the dead ship rats were also analyzed, which helped to reveal one of the secrets of the ancient shipwreck.

According to Business Insider, we are talking about studying the shipwreck of a merchant ship that sank off the coast of Israel between 648 and 740 AD. The study helped not only to learn more about the life of the crew, but also pointed to the Mediterranean trade relations of that period.

According to zooarchaeologist Sierra Harding, for the first time in the laboratory it was possible to study the remains of ship rats that died in the disaster. The skeletons of these rodents are well preserved and have helped archaeologists uncover one of the mysteries of the shipwreck.

So, the analysis showed that rats of different species lived on the ship. Some of the rodents belonged to the species of black rats that traveled with traders to the Middle East from South Asia and India.

However, other rats were too exotic. The morphology of their teeth indicates that these rodents may have originated in Tunisia or Corsica in the central Mediterranean.

This seemingly simple discovery significantly expands the geography of ancient trade ties, the researchers say. According to Harding, it indicates that the countries of the Levant had extensive business ties with distant territories.

The picture of life on board the ship was supplemented by the study of many artifacts found at the bottom. In particular, the largest collection of cargoes, consisting of Byzantine and early Islamic ceramics, was raised from the shipwreck.

Also, as part of the new study, it was found that this ship was transporting walnuts from Turkey and fish sauce from the Sea of ​​​​Galilee region. The crew of the ship was clearly international. So, on board underwater archaeologists found both Christian crosses and Muslim blessings.

The inscriptions on the sides were made in Greek and Arabic. It is noteworthy that the researchers did not find human remains on board. This may mean that the crew escaped and managed to get to the shore.

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