Divers explored a 2,000-year-old shipwreck submerged in 400 feet of water and found stunning artifacts such as a sacrificial altar.
The artifact could help researchers gain insight into ancient commerce routes that were sailed as far back as the third century B.C, Global Underwater Explorers (GUE) reported.
The ship, called Panarea III, was discovered off the Aeolian island of Panarea in 2010 by American researchers, but is difficult to access because of its depth, the Associated Press reported.
"It felt very much like a ghost ship awaiting the boarding of ancient mariners," Jarrod Jablonski, one of the divers with the exploration group based in the Florida community of High Springs told the Associated Press.
The ship is about 50 feet long and made of wood; it is believed to have carried cargo for a wealthy merchant.
"This shipwreck is a very important occasion to understand more about the daily life on the ancient ship, as well as the real dynamics of ancient trade,"Sebastiano Tusa, an Italian archaeologist who is studying the site told the Associated Press. "Of course, there are other similar shipwrecks that can offer similar study cases. But this has the peculiarity to be in a very good preservation condition."
The explorers were able to identify and recover 16 artifacts that the Sicilian government requested for study and preservation. The divers are part of a non-profit initiative called Project Baseline, which works to document cultural and environmental resources.
GUE President Jarrod Jablonski called the Sacrificial Altar a "remarkable piece of history." The artifact boasts inscriptions such as Greek letters and an intricate wave pattern as well as metal supports imbedded in the base.
The fascinating expedition started in the Bahamas in February of this year and moved through "Florida, The Azores, Portugal, France, Spain and Italy. The team consisted of international archaeology experts and divers.