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2,000-Year-Old Sacrificial Altar Found in Unlikely Place

"It felt very much like a ghost ship."

In this undated photograph provided by Global Underwater Explorers, divers illuminate Greco-Roman artifacts of a ship that sunk during the Punic Wars between 218-201 B.C., in the Mediterranean Sea, off the Aeolian Island of Panarea near Italy. The technical divers, trained in Florida's labyrinth of underwater caves, descended 410 feet to the wreck site to retrieve many of the ancient artifacts. (AP/GUE, Ingemar Lundgren)

A 2,000-year-old sacrificial altar is being called a "remarkable piece of history" in its own right, but where it was found is sure to amaze history enthusiasts as well.

The altar and other artifacts were discovering at an ancient shipwreck in the Mediterranean that required a 400-foot dive to reach. The dive itself was hailed as "likely the deepest ever archaeology accomplished by volunteer technical divers."

"It felt very much like a ghost ship awaiting the boarding of ancient mariners," Jarrod Jablonski, GUE president and one of the divers, said, according to the Associated Press.

In this undated photograph provided by Global Underwater Explorers, divers illuminate Greco-Roman artifacts of a ship that sunk during the Punic Wars between 218-201 B.C., in the Mediterranean Sea, off the Aeolian Island of Panarea near Italy. The technical divers, trained in Florida's labyrinth of underwater caves, descended 410 feet to the wreck site to retrieve many of the ancient artifacts. (AP/GUE, Ingemar Lundgren) In this undated photograph provided by Global Underwater Explorers, divers illuminate Greco-Roman artifacts of a ship that sunk during the Punic Wars between 218-201 B.C., in the Mediterranean Sea, off the Aeolian Island of Panarea near Italy. (AP/GUE, Ingemar Lundgren)

The dive to Panarea III in the Aeolian Islands was spearheaded by the nonprofit Global Underwater Explorers. Its discoveries could have historians rethinking what they knew about trade and commerce in the third century B.C., according to the exploring group.

"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, 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 technical divers, trained in Florida's labyrinth of underwater caves, descended 410 feet to the wreck site to retrieve many of the ancient artifacts.  (AP/GUE, Ingemar Lundgren) The technical divers, trained in Florida's labyrinth of underwater caves, descended 410 feet to the wreck site to retrieve many of the ancient artifacts. (AP/GUE, Ingemar Lundgren)

Divers funded through Project Baseline worked alongside submersible equipment to safely bring more than a dozen artifacts to the surface. In addition to the altar, which according to AP has inscriptions that could provide insight into the ship's origin, divers and archaeologists were interested in the ship's anchor and many amphora jars.

This isn't the only historic shipwreck discovery made this month. Another on the other side of the sea off the coast of a Greek island was called the "Titanic of the ancient world."

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