Archaeologists have discovered at least 58 shipwrecks filled with ancient objects in the Aegean Sea between Greece and Turkey.
The discovery is believed to be the largest concentration of wrecks ever found in the Mediterranean.
The sunken ships were found near the islands of Fournoi. They gathered there over a long time period, from time of ancient Greece to the 20th century. Most of the ships are from the time of the Greek, Roman and Byzantine civilizations.
Peter Campbell is leading the underwater research of the wrecks for the RPM Nautical Foundation, a group that studies ancient objects. Campbell said, “The excitement is difficult to describe, I mean, it was just incredible. We knew that we had stumbled upon something that was going to change the history books.”
The international team began the underwater study in 2015. They found 22 shipwrecks that year. That number has climbed to 58 with the latest discovery. The team believes there are even more secrets lying on the seabed below.
Campbell called it “one of the top archaeological discoveries of the century.” He told Reuters, “we now have a new story to tell of a navigational route that connected the ancient Mediterranean.”
The wrecks and their contents show ships carrying goods from nearby areas like the Black Sea, Greece, Turkey, Armenia and Italy. Other goods come from places farther away such as Spain, Sicily, Cyprus, Egypt, the Middle East and North Africa.
The team has raised more than 300 ancient objects from the shipwrecks, including many amphorae, tall jars with two handles used by ancient Greek and Roman people to carry liquid.
George Koutsouflakis is with the Greek government’s Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities. He said “The amphora is a vessel used mainly for transporting liquids and semi-liquids in antiquity, so the goods it would be transporting were mostly wine, oil, fish sauces, perhaps honey.” He added that fish sauce from the Black Sea region was an expensive good in ancient times.
How did they get there?
Bad weather is the most likely explanation for why the ships all sank in the same area near Fournoi, a stopover point for ships to spend the night. The region also experiences a lot of sudden, fierce storms and is surrounded by rocky shores. In later times, pirates were also active in the area, attacking ships filled with expensive goods.
Because of the discoveries, researchers want to create a center for underwater archaeology in Fournoi with a museum to show their finds.
I’m Bryan Lynn.
Hai Do adapted this story for VOA Learning English based on a Reuters story. Mario Ritter was the editor.
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Words in This Story
civilizations –n. well-organized and developed societies that have existed through time
stumbled upon –v. to find something unexpectedly
navigational –adj. related to find one’s way by sea, land or air
route –n. a way to get from one place to another
pirates –n. someone who attacks and steals from ships at sea