This is a reading comprehension exercise for children. It is written by Susan Fineman, a reading specialist in the New Haven, Conn., school district.
TEL AVIV, Israel--Using the same techniques he used to locate the Titanic, American explorer Bob Ballard has found what he says is the oldest known deep-water shipwrecks: a pair of wine-laden ships dragged to the depths of the Mediterranean Sea during a fierce storm more than 2,500 years ago.
The Phoenician cargo ships were found using an underwater robot and deep-water tracking equipment, Ballard told reporters at a Tel Aviv hotel overlooking the Mediterranean.
"A lot of history books will be rewritten from what we are finding in the deep seas," Ballard said.
The content of the ships indicates that they set sail from the Phoenician port of Tyre--now a city in Lebanon--about 750 B.C. Both vessels were transporting hundreds of amphorae, large ceramic containers filled with wine. Although the amphorae were found intact, the wine had seeped out, and sand had filled the containers.
The ships were headed either for Carthage--in modern-day Tunisia--or Egypt. The vessels are positioned upright on the ocean floor, about 1,500 feet under water and 30 miles off the shores of Israel. The route was not previously known as one used by Phoenician sailors.
One ship is about 60 feet long, the largest pre-classical ship ever discovered, Ballard said. The smaller ship, which is about 45 feet long, is about two miles away.
The ships are almost perfectly preserved--a result of the cold water and the relative absence of sediment at such depths.
Stone anchors were found, as well as crockery, a wine decanter and incense stands for offering prayers to the weather gods.
The ships were believed to have been part of a fleet of cargo carriers. They probably went down in a violent storm, and each likely carried a crew of six, said Lawrence Stager, an archaeologist from Harvard University.
Phoenicians were a seafaring people who lived along the Levantine coast for about 2,000 years beginning in 2300 B.C.
The search was sponsored by the National Geographic Society, the U.S. Office of Naval Research and an Israeli archaeological institute.
True or False?
1. More than 2,500 years ago, weather gods destroyed Phoenician vessels traveling to Egypt.
2. American explorer Bob Ballard found two sunken ships on the floor of the Mediterranean.
3. The wrecks were two miles off the coast of Israel.
4. The pair of Phoenician ships are the world's oldest known deep-water sea wrecks.
5. Ballard reports that the larger vessel is about 25 feet longer than the smaller ship.
6. The shipwrecks were equipped with underwater robots and tracking devices.
7. It was discovered that both cargo ships were carrying amphorae, ceramic jugs filled with wine.
8. No wine was left in the amphorae because the containers cracked when the ships were caught in a violent storm.
9. Other items found aboard the pre-classic vessels were anchors and pottery.
10. Cold, deep ocean water that was free of sediment (dirt) kept the wine-filled ships in almost perfect condition.
BONUS: The deep-sea discovery will probably help us to better understand the history of the Phoenician people.
Answer key: 1. False, 2. True, 3. False, 4. True, 5. False, 6. False, 7. True, 8. False, 9. True, 10. True, Bonus: True