Expedition Finds 'Ancient Shipwreck Capital of the World'

Archaeologists find 22 shipwrecks in less than two weeks
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 29, 2015 4:51 PM CDT
Expedition Finds 'Ancient Shipwreck Capital of the World'
Archaeologists just made a massive discovery of ancient jars from 22 shipwrecks in Greece. These similar jars come from a 2009 find in Italy.   (AP Photo/Courtesy of the Italian Culture Ministry and the Aurora Trust, ho)

Teams from Greece and the US have made one of the biggest archaeological finds of the year, Discovery reports. While exploring Greece's Fourni archipelago, the Greek Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities and RPM Nautical Foundation stumbled across what Smithsonian describes as an "artifact jackpot" and what Discovery says could be "the ancient shipwreck capital of the world." "Over only 13 days we added 12% to the total of known ancient shipwrecks in Greek territorial waters," RPM's Peter Campbell tells Discovery. "No one was prepared for this," a Greek team director says. "Shipwrecks were found literally everywhere." All told, the teams found 22 shipwrecks in just 17 square miles of islands and islets in the Aegean Sea. "I think we were all shocked," Campbell tells LiveScience. "We were expecting three or four wrecks, and we would have been very happy."

The underwater archaeological expedition was the first to the Fourni area—thought to be part of a major ancient shipping corridor—and the teams pretty much couldn't help but find shipwrecks, Smithsonian reports. "If we hadn’t stopped, we would have hit 30 or 40 in a few weeks,” Campbell says. They found wrecks and cargo dating back as far as 700 BC. And ancient jars—called amphoras—from at least three of the sites have never been found in shipwrecks before. Campbell says these finds could help historians get a better grasp of the scope of ancient Greece's trade, noting that the large number of shipwrecks in the area is likely thanks to how busy the corridor was, rather than it being particularly dangerous. Discovery reports the teams only examined 5% of the Fourni coastlines. And according to LiveScience, they plan on going back with underwater robots soon. (In addition to shipwrecks, ancient Greece also had a fear of zombies.)

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