Site of a major fortress and port during the Roman period
It turns out that the ancient Mediterranean port of Triport in Albania, which had been the site of a major fortress and port during the Roman period before it became submerged underwater, was much larger than previously thought.
This discovery, made by a 14-strong team of Albanian and international archaeologists and researchers, has now added as much as eight acres to the site, which was previously believed to cover 12 acres. The site had been explored twice, once in the 20th century, and then in the early 2000s.
Based on the findings, the team envisions that Triport was a harbour that might have been associated with Aulon (now Vlora or Vlorës), offering safe anchorage from the sea and Narta Lagoon. Major Roman roads would have connected it with ancient cities like Aulon and Apollonia.
“We found indicators of ancient sea level change, Greek and Roman trade (4th BC – 7th AD), and contemporary environmental data. But one of the most significant discoveries was the larger submerged remains – prompting us to rethink the importance of Triport as a Roman harbour;” said Peter Campbell, from the University of Southampton and Albania’s National Coastal Agency (Agjencia Kombëtare e Bregdetit). He, together with Neritan Ceka of the Albanian Institute of Archaeology, had directed the expedition.
Besides Triport, the expedition also explored other submerged cities and harbour structures along the Albanian coast in Butrint and Orikum. In addition, the team worked with the government, navy and local stakeholders like fishermen, divers and businesses to survey threatened areas of the lake surrounding the Burint UNESCO World Heritage site in southern Albania to Sazan Island and Vlora Bay.
In the course of the expedition, the team came across artefacts of the maritime trade from the past. These items included anchors made of stone, lead and iron, amphoras (large jug-like containers) from the Hellenistic Period to the early Middle Ages, roof tiles (called tegulae and imbreces) for houses, plates and water jugs.
Evidence of the ecological impact of pollution and coastal development – like microplastics, heavy metals from industry and invasive species – was also found and documented.
Commenting on the site, Campbell said, “The Albanian coast is incredibly dynamic and we have found excellent indicators of sea-level change such as tidal notches to sunken cities and harbours. This lets us reconstruct the coast in the past, which tells us how different parts are changing through time and may change in the future.”
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