Hundreds of artifacts found in sunken 18th century shipwreck

February 27, 2022

Saudi Gazette report

RIYADH — The Saudi Heritage Authority declared on Thursday that the commission's submerged antiquities exploration mission, led by five Saudi divers, has been a success. They uncovered a sunken shipwreck in the Red Sea off the coast of Haql Governorate and unearthed hundreds of artifacts from the ship's cargo.

The wreck of the ship, which is 300 meters off the beach, was discovered by a crew specializing in scanning the Red Sea's underwater history.

Initial reports also suggest that the ship may have collided with coral reefs, scattering its parts and causing its cargo to fall to the ground. These pottery pieces were discovered to be typically shaped as an "amphora", which was made in cities throughout the Mediterranean Basin.

It's worth noting the authority's survey and excavation work for sunken artifacts in the Red Sea's waters, was launched in collaboration with international universities and research centers.

It resulted in the discovery of over 50 sunken shipwreck sites throughout the Red Sea, each with its own historical and archaeological value and time period. It emphasizes the Kingdom's trade links and historical economy, as well as its activities and cultural ties with neighboring regions.

A submerged shipwreck had earlier been discovered near the city of Umluj by a joint Saudi-Italian mission in 2015-2016.

It contained Chinese porcelain pottery bowls and cups that were part of the cargo and the ship's own planks made of wood and pine, aside from broken glass bottles and metal bowls. The collection dates from the middle of the eighteenth-century AD.

The joint Saudi-German team that surveyed the West Coast's underwater cultural sites from 2012 to 2017 also discovered the remnants of a Roman shipwreck in the Red Sea.

It is the earliest wreck of an ancient ship discovered along the Saudi coast, beside another shipwreck dating from the early Islamic era, in the area between Rabigh in the north and Shuaiba in the south, confirming that the Kingdom's coasts are rich in this cumulative history.

This prompted the Commission to double down on its attempts to unearth these gems, enlisting the aid of high-level international specialist houses.

The Heritage Authority is examining the site, determining the scale and history of the archaeological remains, and verifying the presence of ship remains at the site in collaboration with a number of local universities and international missions.

This is in addition to comparing them to earlier research and studies, and to make sure that the findings of those investigations are made public as soon as they are completed.

These discoveries come as part of the Heritage Authority’s efforts to protect underwater cultural heritage.

Based on the Kingdom’s membership in the Underwater Cultural Heritage Convention since 2015, after Minister of Culture Prince Badr Bin Abdullah announced the establishment of a specialized center for the protection of underwater cultural heritage in the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf, during the ministerial meeting of the culture ministers of the Group of Twenty, which was organized by the Kingdom during its hosting of the G20 Summit in November 2020.

February 27, 2022
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