22 shipwrecks found is one of the largest discoveries of 2015

  • A large Hellenistic pithos. Image credit: V Mentogianis
  • Amphoras spill down a slope. Image credit: V Mentogianis
  • An archaeologist measure the mouth of a pithos. Image credit: V Mentogianis
  • An archaeologist searches around amphoras encrusted in the reef. Image credit: V Mentogianis
  • An archaeologist takes notes on ancient amphoras. Image credit: V Mentogianis
  • Archaeologists survey the scatter of a late Roman shipwreck. Image credit: V Mentogianis
  • Archaic amphora. Image credit: V Mentogianis
  • An Archaic shipwreck. Image credit: V Mentogianis
  • Directors George Koutsouflakis (right) and Peter Campbell discuss the research plan while diver Anastasis Agathos looks on. Image credit: V Mentogianis
  • Divers create a photomosaic of a Late Roman shipwreck. Image credit: V Mentogianis
  • Field conservation of an amphora. Image credit: V Mentogianis
  • Large amphoras orginating from the Black Sea lay scattered among a wreck. Image credit: V Mentogianis
Date:4 November 2015 Author: Nikky Knijf Tags:, , , , ,

A Greek-American collaborative archaeological expedition found 22 shipwrecks from varying periods throughout history in the Fourni archipelago Greek islands, and this discovery is one of the largest and most significant this year.

The expedition is the first to research the Fourni archipelago: a collection of thirteen islands and islets on the Turkish side of the Aegean sea. What they found were shipwrecks ranging from the Archaic Period (700-480 BC) to the Late Medieval Period (16th century), along with their cargo.

This discovery is significant because of the amount of shipwrecks found, as well as the types of cargo discovered.

“In a typical survey we locate four or five shipwrecks per season in the best cases,” says the expedition’s Greek director George Koutsouflakis. “We expected a successful season, but no one was prepared for this. Shipwrecks were found literally everywhere.” Koutsouflakis also said that at least three of the shipwreck sites have cargo that has never been found on shipwrecks before. This cargo comes from a variety of places in the Black Sea, Aegean Sea, Cyprus, the Levant, and Egypt throughout various periods.

“The concentration of ancient shipwrecks is unprecedented,” says Peter Campbell, co-director from US based RPM Nautical Foundation. “The volume of shipwrecks in Fourni, an island that had no major cities or harbors, speaks to its role in navigation as well as the perils of sailing the eastern Aegean.”

Each shipwreck has been mapped using photogrammetry to create 3D site plans, and representative artifacts were excavated and raised from each wreck site for scientific analysis. The artifacts are undergoing conservation the the Greek Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities’ laboratory in Athens.

The images above illustrate some of the expedition’s findings. For more information about the expedition and the discoveries, visit the RPMNF’s website here and the website of the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities, here.

Images and captions: Supplied by the Fourni Underwater Survey expedition.

Check out the latest update here, the team have made more discoveries.