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Archaeologists have discovered 23 ancient wrecks during an expedition lasting 22 days!

Underwater archaeologists have come across a veritable graveyard of ancient shipwrecks near the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea. In a 22-day search, the remains of 23 vessels were found, bringing the total number of wrecks found during the two expeditions to 45 in just 9 months! A combined team of researchers from Greece and
Published: July 12, 2016 - 17:57
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 13:41
Archaeologists have discovered 23 ancient wrecks during an expedition lasting 22 days!

Underwater archaeologists have come across a veritable graveyard of ancient shipwrecks near the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea. In a 22-day search, the remains of 23 vessels were found, bringing the total number of wrecks found during the two expeditions to 45 in just 9 months! A combined team of researchers from Greece and the USA conducted the search in waters near Greece’s Fourni Archipelago.

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The expedition planned between 8 June and 2 July 2016 was a huge success. Its results only confirmed that the explored region is a true capital of wrecks dating back to ancient and medieval times. The combined research teams of Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities and RPM Nautical Foundation, not only repeated the success of the search conducted in September 2015, but improved it by finding one more wreck.

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The search, exploration and documentation were carried out in water depths of up to 65 metres. Within three weeks it was possible to locate and preliminarily examine 23 wrecks, which date from antiquity to the 19th century.

In total, 45 wrecks were found in the region, as well as many individual finds such as pottery and anchors. On the one hand, all this shows how important this region used to be on the map of trade routes of the ancient world. On the other hand, it gives it the status of one of the most abundant in similar finds in the entire Mediterranean region.

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“The discovered wrecks demonstrate the absolutely unique importance of this region and at the same time show that the ongoing project is one of the most exciting investigations currently underway in the world of underwater archaeology,” said Peter Campbell of the University of Southampton, co-director of the US RPM Nautical Foundation’s efforts.

The expedition summary states that this year’s most valuable finds include a wreck with amphorae from the mid-Hellenistic period 323-31 BC, a wreck from the Archaic period 700-480 BC with a cargo of amphorae from the eastern Aegean Islands, a wreck from Roman times 300-600 BC with a cargo of amphorae from Sinop located on the Black Sea, another wreck from Roman times sailing with a cargo of amphorae from North Africa and a wreck with a cargo of pottery dating to the early Christian period and also heading from North African territory.

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“The small islands of the Fourni Archipelago were not too dangerous for the sailors of the time. On the contrary. They were a great place to wait out bad weather and probably had many moorings used by travellers on the trade routes of the eastern Aegean”. – explained Campbell.

Archaeologists plan to continue their work until 2018 to prove that the explored region represents the largest concentration of ancient wrecks in the world. So far, only 15% of the waters near the coastline of the Fourni Archipelago have been surveyed. The archaeologists expect just as spectacular a success in the coming years as they did during the two completed expeditions.

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“For comparison, we can contrast the study area and the Great Lakes region in the US. The sanctuary created in the waters of Lake Michigan is supposed to protect 39 known sunken wrecks in an area of 875 square miles. Here, on the other hand, we are dealing with 45 wrecks in an area of about 17 square miles” – illustrates the scale of the find to Peter Campbell.

All the wrecks will be mapped using photogrammetry so that 3D models can be created from the data obtained.

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As the project participants themselves emphasise, such great results were only possible thanks to the support of the local community, fishermen and divers who provided a lot of valuable and detailed information about interesting locations.

Source: seeker.com, yppo.gr

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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