Middle East

Major Roman ruins discovered underwater in Tunisia

Streets, monuments and about 100 fermentation tanks found in the Mediterranean, confirming a theory about Neapolis.

The expedition started work in 2010 [National Heritage Institute Tunisia/University of Sassari/AFP]

Roman ruins stretching over 20 hectares have been discovered off the coast of northeastern Tunisia, confirming "with certainty" a theory that the city of Neapolis was partly submerged by a tsunami in the 4th century AD.

"It's a major discovery," Mounir Fantar, the head of a Tunisian-Italian archaeological mission which made the find off the coast of Nabeul, told AFP news agency on Thursday.

He said that an underwater expedition had found streets, monuments and about 100 tanks used to produce garum, a fermented fish-based condiment that was a favourite of ancient Rome.

"This 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 centre in the Roman world," said Fantar.

"Probably the notables of Neapolis owed their fortune to garum."

Fantar's team started work in 2010 in search of the port of Neapolis but only made the breakthrough find of the ruins this summer thanks to favourable weather conditions.

The discovery also proved that Neapolis had been partly submerged by a tsunami on July 21 in 365 AD that badly damaged Alexandria in Egypt and the Greek island of Crete, as recorded by historian Ammien Marcellin.

This summer's favourable weather conditions helped the archaeologists to make the breakthrough find [National Heritage Institute Tunisia/University of Sassari/AFP]

Source: AFP news agency