London, July 14 (IANS) Researchers carrying out an expedition in the Fourni archipelago in Greece have found 23 new shipwrecks dating from around 1,000 BC to the 19th century AD.
“The Fourni Underwater Survey,” which was conducted during June and early July this year, explored Fourni — a collection of 13 islands that lies along a major east-west crossing route, east of mainland Greece.
The research which consists primarily of scuba diving along the coastline to depths of up to 65 meters, was conducted to identify and document ancient, medieval, and post-medieval shipwrecks in the Greek archipelago.
“Fourni has 45 known shipwrecks around its 17 square mile territory – which puts our discoveries into perspective,” said Peter Campbell, Archaeologist from the University of Southampton in Britain.
The most significant shipwrecks of the latest expedition includes a late Archaic-early Classical wreck with amphorae (large jug like container) from the eastern Aegean, a Hellenistic cargo of amphoras from Kos, three Roman cargos of Sinopean amphorae, a wreck of North African amphorae of the 3rd- 4th century AD, and a cargo of Late Roman tableware.
The ships span the late Archaic Period (c. 525-480 BC) to the Early Modern Period (c. 1750-1850), the researchers said.
“The concentration of the shipwrecks and the large area remaining to be explored leaves every indication that there are many more sites to discover,” Campbell added.
Beside shipwrecks, jettisoned pottery and ancient anchors were also found.
Among these are two massive stone-stocks of ancient anchors dating to the Archaic Period – the largest found in the Aegean so far.
Previously, the team found 22 wrecks in the same area, bringing the total number of findings in nine month period to 45.
“The data we have recorded offers great insight into ancient navigation and trade”,” Campbell noted.
The expedition revealed the importance of eastern Mediterranean trade networks passing by Fourni in every time period, connecting the Black Sea and Aegean to Cyprus, the Levant and Egypt.
Some shipwrecks even carried goods from North Africa, Spain, and Italy.The Fourni Underwater Survey is a collaboration between the Greek Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities and RPM Nautical Foundation.