Ten Shipwrecks Found Off the Coast of Greek Island

The sunken vessels range in age from 3,000 B.C.E to the 1940s

Underwater divers holding large anchor
During the four-year project, researchers identified shipwrecks dated as far back as 3,000 B.C.E. Greek Ministry of Culture

Using Homer’s Iliad and other historical texts as their guide, researchers have identified ten shipwrecks off the coast of Kasos, a small Greek island in the Aegean Sea.

Through the Kasos Maritime Archaeological Project, an interdisciplinary team of researchers spent four years exploring the waters around the island at depths of roughly 65 to 154 feet. The group finished its field work in October, and the Greek Ministry of Culture announced the findings last week.

The discoveries offer new information and archaeological data on the history of Kasos, as well as the rich cultural heritage of the Mediterranean, according to the statement.

Underwater archaeologist scrubbing artifact with brush
Underwater archaeologists took more than 20,000 photos. Greek Ministry of Culture

“This island has long been overlooked in historical narratives, and we aimed to uncover its significance in ancient maritime networks,” Xanthie Argiris, a marine archaeologist involved with the project, tells Newsweek’s Aristos Georgiou.

The ten shipwrecks vary greatly in age: The oldest dates to around 3000 B.C.E., while the youngest—a wooden boat with metal elements that measure between 82 and 98 feet long—likely sank during World War II.

The team also found ships and artifacts spanning classical antiquity (from around the year 460 B.C.E), the Byzantine era (from 800 to 900 C.E.), and the medieval and Ottoman periods.

Underwater diver
Beginning in June, the project aims to explore the neighboring island of Karpathos. Greek Ministry of Culture

The wide timeline represented by the ships reflects the significance of Kasos as a “maritime crossroads throughout the ages,” Argiris tells Newsweek.

Some of the ships were carrying goods from as far away as Spain, Italy, Africa and Asia, the researchers report. The items include a Spanish amphora that dates to between 150 and 170 C.E., as well as drinking vessels and flasks from Africa that date to the Roman period. The researchers also found a stone anchor from the Archaic Period, which lasted from roughly 700 to 500 B.C.E.

Beginning in 2019, the team carried out four separate research missions around the island, which spans 19 square miles. It’s the southernmost island in the Dodecanese complex in the southeastern Aegean and served as a major trade hub for centuries. According to the Iliad, Homer’s epic eighth century B.C.E. poem, Kasos sent ships to fight in the Trojan War, writes Artnet’s Vittoria Benzine.

Diving in Aegean Ηistory

The researchers took more than 20,000 underwater photographs, brought sunken artifacts to the surface and made maps of the Kasos-Karpathos reef using side-scanning sonar.

The project is the focus of an 11-minute documentary film called Diving in the History of the Aegean, available in both Greek and English, that is being shown at international archaeological film festivals.

Next, the team will explore the waters surrounding the neighboring island of Karpathos.

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