Shipwreck Capital Of The World – Ancient

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Discovery Of Ancient Shipwreck Capital Of The World

Shipwreck

A joint Greek-American archaeological expedition in small Fourni archipelago discovered 22 shipwrecks, revealing what may be the ancient shipwreck capital of the world.  This is hailed as one of the top archaeological finds of 2015.

The Fourni archipelago is an area of just 17 square miles.  This is a collection of 13 islands and islets located between the eastern Aegean islands of Samos and Icaria.

Day 1: The team found the remains of a late Roman-period wreck strewn with sea grass in shallow water.

Day 5: The researchers had discovered evidence of nine more sunken ships.

Day 6: They found another six.

Day 13: Survey completed.  They found 22 shipwrecks.

Peter Campbell, of the University of Southampton and co-director from US-based RPM Nautical Foundation, commented: “Surpassing all expectations, over only 13 days we added 12 percent to the total of known ancient shipwrecks in Greek territorial waters.”

Ships traveling from the Greek mainland to Asia Minor, or ships leaving the Aegean for the Levant had to pass by Fourni as it lies right in the middle of the major east-west crossing route, as well as the north-south route that connected the Aegean to the Levant.

Campbell further added: “Ikaria and the west coast of Samos have no harbors or anchorages, so Fourni is the safest place that ships could stop in the area.”

This is the first underwater expedition.  Archaeologists from the Greek Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities and RPM Nautical Foundation worked with local sponge divers, fishermen and free divers in this expedition.  And of course, the results are astonishing.  Honor Frost Foundation, a UK charity that supports research in the eastern Mediterranean, funded this expedition.

Greek director George Koutsouflakis said, “In a typical survey we locate four or five shipwrecks per season in the best cases. We expected a successful season, but no one was prepared for this. Shipwrecks were found literally everywhere.”

The shipwrecks span from the Archaic Period (700-480 B.C.) to the Classical (480-323 B.C.) and Hellenistic (323-31 B.C.) through the Late Medieval Period (16th century).  Over half of the wrecks date to the Late Roman Period (circa 300-600 A.D.).

“What is astonishing is not only the number of the shipwrecks but also the diversity of the cargoes, some of which have been found for the first time,” he added.

The Cargo found reveals the long distance trade between the Black Sea, Aegean Sea, Cyprus, the Levant and Egypt.  The wreck of three ships contained a cargo of amphoras, or jars, that have not been found previously on shipwrecks.  These are Archaic period (700-480 B.C.) Samian amphoras, Late Roman (3rd-7th centuries A.D.) Sinopean (carrot-shaped) amphoras and large 2nd century A.D. Black Sea amphoras that carried fish sauce.

Scientific analysis will be done on the representative artifacts raised from each wreck site.  Once the conservation is over, it may be displayed at the museum.

Campbell said, “Given the 22 wrecks and the date spread of the finds, it equals about one wreck per century — a pretty safe bet for sailors. These wrecks were likely caught by a sudden storm or equipment failure, such as a broken rudder that prevented to control the ship.”

The archaeologists reveal that only 5 percent of the archipelago’s coastline has been examined.  They are confident that many more wrecks will be discovered.

He added, “We plan to return to Fourni next year to continue the survey.”

Source: Discovery News

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