Ancient sunken ships are generally found in shallow water 100 or so, but two Roman-era shipwrecks have been found almost a mile deep in waters off the islands of Corfu and Paxoi, the Ionian Sea between western Greece and Italy.

The wrecks are from the third century A.D. and lend more evidence to the idea that bolder ancient shipmasters did not just stick to coastal routes and ventured into the open sea. Of course, since they are wrecks it also explains why more cautious trade captains absolutely did stick to coastal routes when they could.  Smaller vessels such as this, 80 feet long and usually loaded with cargo and not built for open water navigation, liked to be closer to land to save the crew if things went wrong.

How were they found? Thank evil fossil fuels.  The wrecks were discovered earlier this month while surveying the route where a Greek-Italian gas pipeline is to be sunk.  The Greek surveyor was examining a 77 square mile patch of seabed and their radar and robot submarines discovered amphorae (storage jars for food and drink), anchors, stones used for ballast and what looked like remains of wooden ships. They raised a marble vase and samples of pottery.

Pottery from the wreck of a 3rd century A.D. Roman-era ship found deep off the western coast of Greece in the photo issued by Greek Culture Ministry Tuesday, May 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Greek Culture Ministry)

Angeliki Simossi, head of Greece's underwater antiquities department, told Nicholas Paphitis of the  Associated Press that one ship was amphorae usually produced in north Africa, so it might have sailed from there and headed for Greece after a stop in Italy.