Storms, War and Shipwrecks: Treasures from the Sicilian Seas tells the incredible story of this Mediterranean island through finds rescued from the sea by underwater archaeologists. For over 2000 years foreign powers such Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs and Normans, sailed to the island to take control and take advantage of Sicily’s natural resources. However due to battle, stormy weather and the island’s rocky shores, many ships sank thus leaving a treasure trove for future underwater archaeologists. Showcasing finds from Sicily’s shores and the information they have formulated, this brilliant exhibition is definitely worth the trip.
The most exciting part, in my opinion, are the rams from the ships of the Battle of the Egadi Islands that were found in 2004. They were found in the exact area where historians speculated the battle took place near Levanzo. The rams, from both the Romans and the Carthaginians, are incredibly impressive and are worth the entrance fee on their own!
There is something for everyone at this exhibition. Including details on Honor Frost (1917-2010), one of the founders of underwater archaeology, who was vital to establishing this new field as an academic discipline, incredible finds such as anchors and amphorae covered in coral from the Levanzo shipwreck (approx. 400BC), and the remains of a church that was lost at sea after a ship carrying an entire church sunk due to stormy weather.
The exhibition explains the details on individual shipwrecks such as why they sank, what their cargo was, the route they took and when the wreck was found. They discuss the Panarea shipwreck, Gela shipwreck, Capistello shipwreck and the Camarina shipwreck just to name a few.
This amazing showcase is also suitable for the children. A Shipworm Family Trail is available for free and the exhibition is a feast for all the senses, keeping children (and young at heart adults) entertained. The Ashmolean have given you the chance to touch pieces of stone, terracotta and wood that have been underwater for a long time, to smell everyday products used in Sicily 2000 years ago and to watch a great film with impressive graphics on the Battle of the Egadi Islands.
Trying not to give too much away, I thoroughly recommend visiting the exhibition if you live in Oxford or are visiting. It’s interesting, stunning and either makes you want to explore Sicily or become an underwater archaeologist!
It is open Tuesday to Sunday until 25th September and tickets can be found on their website.
Whist you’re at it you could drop in to see us and browse our showroom packed full of archaeology books on the way home!
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