The Discovery That Could Rewrite Greek History

Archaeologists have found 22 ancient shipwrecks in just one small area of Greece

In what will likely be one of 2015’s biggest archaeological finds, experts have announced a major discovery in Greece.

Underwater archaeologists have stumbled upon 22 shipwrecks near a Greek archipelago between the islands of Samos and Icaria.

Working with local divers and fishermen, archaeologists Greece and America added 12 percent to the total number of known shipwrecks in Greek waters.

"In a survey, you don't really choose what you're going to find, you just dive," George Koutsouflakis, the Greek director of the survey, tells Live Science. "We knew already that Fourni was a hub in navigation in the Aegean, so we had some expectations, but the results surprised us. The importance of this place was underestimated."

Image: V. Mentogianis

Most of the wrecks are from the Late Roman Period from 300 to 600 AD, but there are also ships spanning from the Archaic Period (700-480 BC) right through to the 16th century’s Late Medieval Period.

What’s most astonishing about the find is not just the number of shipwrecks, but the sheer diversity of their cargos.

Image: V. Mentogianis

Looking at the contents of each ship, experts learned there had been long-distance trading between the Levant, Egypt and Cyprus throughout all those eras. 

Within the newly-discovered wrecks, archaeologists found three cargos that have never been found in Mediterranean shipwrecks – Archaic pots from Samos, a large amount of second-century amphora containers and “Sinopian carrots”, which are amphora containers from the Black Sea coast of Turkey. 

Image: V. Mentogianis

While the sheer quantity of shipwrecks seems to suggest the islands are a treacherous area for ships, archaeologists say this is probably not the case. The wrecks are spread out over a large period of time, equaling only about one wreck per century. 

Already a stunning find, the number of discovered wrecks is likely to increase when the team return to the islands next year to continue their examination.

Discuss this article


Never miss a Nat Geo moment

Your email address
We use our own and third-party cookies to improve our services, personalise your advertising and remember your preferences. If you continue browsing, or click on the accept button on this banner, we understand that you accept the use of cookies on our website. For more information visit our Cookies Policy AcceptClose cookie policy overlay