Researchers believe Neapolis, whose ruins also dot the landscape above ground in the north-eastern town of Nabeul, was hit by unstoppable waves in 365 AD, report AFP.
Images of the project show archaeologists diving below the waves off Africa to pinpoint traces of Roman roads and buildings.
Chief archaeologist Mounir Fantar described locating remains of the Roman city as a “major discovery.” The settlement is understood to have had a rather unique export in garum, a fermented fish popular in Rome, Greece and Byzantium.
“The discovery has allowed us to establish with certainty that Neapolis was a major centre for the manufacture of garum and salt fish, probably the largest center in the Roman world,” Fantar told AFP.“Probably the notables of Neapolis owed their fortune to garum.”
Garum was an ingredient in many dishes described in the Roman cookbook Apicrus and came in a variety of qualities to suit all classes and pocketbooks of the times. Its production figured into the economies of a number of cities in Italy (containers of garum were found in the ruins of Pompeii), Gaul, Spain, Greece and, on the other side of the Mediterranean, Carthage and one of its main cities, Neapolis.
How did Neaoplis get lost and why wasn’t it found until now? The original settlement was founded in the 9th century BCE by the Phoenicians but came into its own as a trade port established by the Greeks in the 5th century BCE. “New City” was a common name used by the Greeks – it’s also the root of Naples. Due to various wars, it changed hands from Greek to Carthaginian, Roman and eventually Tunisian rule, where its name was changed to Nabuel. According to historical records, Nabuel was hit by a tsunami on July 21, 365 AD, that destroyed some of the city and submerged the rest. The wave also destroyed part of Alexandria in Egypt the Greek island of Crete.
Hopefully new discovery will shed light on history of mysterious ancient city.
Source: AFP news agency
All Photos © University of Sassari / AFP