More ancient wrecks and pottery discovered in Greek ships’ graveyard

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More ancient wrecks and pottery discovered in Greek ships’ graveyardCargo of late Roman amphorae Photo: Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities / B. Mentogiannis

Greece’s culture ministry says a Greek-US team has located traces of three more ancient shipwrecks with pottery cargoes, and two from later times, in a rich ships’ graveyard in the eastern Aegean Sea, AP reported.

All were discovered last month off Fourni island and its surrounding islets, between the larger islands of Ikaria and Samos. The older ones date to the 4th and 2nd centuries B.C. and the 5th-6th centuries AD.

Labelling works in a Roman wreck Photo: Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities / B. Mentogiannis

 

The new find raises to 58 the number of wrecks located since 2015 around Fourni, a notoriously dangerous point on the ancient shipping route.

Apart from the cargoes of amphorae – jars that contained wine, oil and foodstuffs – divers were also able to recover a group of 2nd-century AD terracotta lamps, incised with the names of the Corinthian artisans who made them. 

Abandoned anchor in front of the village of Kamari Fourni Photo: Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities /G. Koutsouflakis

 

It is the norm to find shipwrecks together in the Aegean, nevertheless, this is the first time so many have been discovered, according to  Reuters which adds:

Experts point out they this reveals a lot about how ships full of cargo travelling through the Aegean, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea met their fate in sudden storms and surrounded by rocky cliffs in the area.

Mechanical detachment from lamps Photo: Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities / G. Koutsouflakis


“The excitement is difficult to describe, I mean, it was just incredible. We knew that we had stumbled upon something that was going to change the history books,” noted underwater archaeologist and co-director of the Fournoi survey project Dr. Peter Campbell of the RPM Nautical Foundation told Reuters.

The foundation is cooperating on the project with Greece’s Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities, which is conducting the research.

Lamp base with the signature of lamp maker Octavius Photo: Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities / G. Koutsouflakis

 

When the international team commenced the underwater survey in 2015, they were astounded to find 22 shipwrecks that year. With their latest discoveries, the number has now climbed to 58, and the team believes there are even more to come.

“I would call it, probably, one of the top archaeological discoveries of the century in that we now have a new story to tell of a navigational route that connected the ancient Mediterranean,” Campbell also told Reuters.

The research team of 2018 Photo: Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities / B. Mentogiannis

The vessels and their contents draw a picture of ships carrying goods on routes from the Black Sea, Greece, Asia Minor, Italy, Spain, Sicily, Cyprus, the Levant, Egypt, and North Africa.

The team has raised more than 300 antiquities from the shipwrecks, mainly amphorae, giving archaeologists rare insight into where goods were being transported around the Mediterranean, with goods which believe were mostly wine, oil, fish sauces, and honey.

The team, which includes archaeologists, architects, conservators, and divers are now determined to create a centre for underwater archaeology in Fournoi for students, as well as a local museum to exhibit their finds.

 

 

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