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The Mahdia Shipwreck


Ships sometimes foundered while carrying statuary and luxury goods from the Greek-speaking East to Rome. A remarkable shipwreck occurred off the coast of Tunisia between 100 and 70 BC and was discovered in 1907 by fishermen from the village of Mahdia. Its cargo included marble and bronze sculptures — one of which, a herm with the head of Dionysos, is on view here — along with sixty to seventy marble columns, ornate candelabra, twenty-three bronze beds, and antiques from the fourth century BC, all intended for Roman collectors and patrons of the arts.

Pictured: Herm of Dionysos, Mahdia Herm, 200 – 100 BC; bronze. Lent by the L'Institut National du Patrimoine de la République Tunisienne, Tunis