Saudi shipwreck excavation reveals hundreds of 18th century artefacts

There are around 50 shipwrecks off the coast of Saudi Arabia

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Divers from Saudi Arabia's Heritage Authority have discovered a shipwreck in the Red Sea from the 18th century filled with hundreds of artefacts.

The discovery was made 300 metres off the coast of Al Haql governorate, close to the border with Jordan. Archaeologists believe it may have collided with coral reefs, leading to the ship breaking up and its contents being spread around.

The pottery pieces, SPA reported, are from amphora manufactured in the Mediterranean basin.

Experts estimate there are more than 50 shipwrecks along the coast, which are slowly being discovered by teams sponsored by The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC). The company estimates this maritime heritage could bring seven million more visitors to the area, Arab News reported in November.

A multibillion-dollar project being built on more than 90 islands off the coast of Saudi Arabia features conservation efforts to attract wildlife, a new airport and luxury hotels.

“The Red Sea coast of Saudi Arabia is rich in history, positioned at the heart of global trading routes for centuries,” John Pagano, chief executive of TRSDC said last year.

“Partnering with the Heritage and Museums Commission allows us to both explore the historical significance of this unique region and ensure the preservation of our discoveries. TRSDC is committed to responsibly developing the extraordinary natural beauty and historical value of the Red Sea and we look forward to close collaboration to advance the kingdom’s heritage conservation efforts.”

The new shipwreck discovery comes hot on the heels of another Red Sea find in November 2021.

Archaeologists from the University of Napoli found the largest and most complete wooden shipwreck in the Red Sea. It contained jars, porcelain and spices, having sunk between 1725 and 1750 in Al Wajh lagoon. The team are still curating and cataloguing the finds, which will be split between the Red Sea Museum in Jeddah and the Red Sea Project.

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