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No. 28: Jul-Aug 1983

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Romans in rio?

In 1976, diver Jose Roberto Texeira salvaged two intact amphorae from the bottom of Guanabara Bay, 15 kilometers from Rio de Janeiro. Six years later, archeologist Robert Marx found thousands of pottery fragments in the same locality, including 200 necks from amphorae.

Amphorae are tall storage vessels that were used widely throughout ancient Europe. These particular amphorae are of Roman manufacture, circa the second century B.C. Much controversy erupted around the finds because Spain and Portugal both claim to have discovered Brazil around 1500 A.D. Roman artifacts were distinctly unwelcome. More objectively, the thought of an ancient Roman crossing of the Atlantic is not so farfetched. Roman wrecks have been discovered in the Azores; and the shortest way across the Atlantic is from Africa to Brazil -- only 18 days using modern sailing vessels.

(Sheckley, Robert; "Romans in Rio," Omni, 5:43, June 1983.)

From Science Frontiers #28, JUL-AUG 1983. 1983-2000 William R. Corliss