Taormina – Wreck of the Columns


Discover the voyage of a Roman lapidary ship that transported precious marble from quarries in the eastern Mediterranean to Rome.

In the 2nd century BC, Rome was at the centre of a vast empire that stretched across the Mediterranean, increasing the demand for marble from conquered territories such as Greece, Egypt and Asia Minor. Sicily, with its eastern part, became a crucial trading centre for this traffic of materials.

In the 1970s, the remains of a lapidary ship from the imperial era (2nd century A.D.) were discovered off Capo Taormina. The incredibly intact cargo included 37 columns and 2 rectangular blocks, revealing the wealth of materials transported.

Thanks to the analysis of marble samples taken from the wreck, it was possible to trace the probable route followed by the ship, from Greece to Urbe. Materials such as the “breach of Scyros” and the “green porphyry” of Larissa indicate that the marble may have been extracted from quarries in the Greek localities of the same name.

Immerse yourself in this compelling story and follow this ship’s path across the Mediterranean, until the tragic moment when it encountered a storm and broke up on the cliffs of Cape Taormina, where it still lies today, a silent witness to a glorious era.

Find out more on the website of the Superintendence of the Sea.

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