At a Greek archipelago, archaeologists have discovered 22 different shipwrecks, leading some to call it the “shipwreck capital of the world”.
The discovery was made by a joint archaeological expedition featuring both American and Greek explorers. They were searching in the small Fourni Archipelago, which has an area of just 17 square miles. The archipelago contains a total of 13 islands and islets located between the eastern Aegean islands, Icaria and Samos.
In just a time period of 13 days, the team located 22 individual shipwrecks.
The Fourni Archipelago is located directly in the center of both a major east-west crossing route and a north-south route that connects the Aegean islands to the Levant.
The result is that countless ships had to pass through the area. Some of which apparently did not complete their journeys.
The recent expedition marked the first time that underwater archaeologists embarked on a major search throughout the area. Those involved say that they are extremely pleased with their findings.
Greek archaeologist George Koutsouflakis said, “In a typical survey we locate four or five shipwrecks per season in the best cases. We expected a successful season, but no one was prepared for this. Shipwrecks were found literally everywhere.”
More than half of the shipwrecks that were found have been traced back to the Late Roman Period of 300 to 600 A.D. Some date back even further to the Archaic Period of 700 to 480 B.C. Others were as recent as the Late Medieval Period of the 16th century.
According to Koutsouflakis, the differing aspects of the shipwrecks is particularly amazing.
“What is astonishing is not only the number of the shipwrecks but also the diversity of the cargoes, some of which have been found for first time,” he said.
Based on the findings, the archaeologists have determined that many of the ships traveled very far distances for trading purposes. Areas such as the Black Sea, the Aegean Sea, Cyprus, the Levant and Egypt were all either originating locations, passing points or intended final destinations for the doomed ships.
For now, the archaeologists are working on mapping out each shipwreck in order to create 3D models of their travels before they sank.
Additionally, many of the artifacts that have been recovered may eventually be displayed in Museums.
According to the archaeologists, the area was perfectly safe for travel. The reason why so many shipwrecks were found here is due to the fact that an extraordinarily large number of vessels passed through the area.
American archaeologist Peter Campbell said, “Given the 22 wrecks and the date spread of the finds, it equals about one wreck per century: a pretty safe bet for sailors. These wrecks were likely caught by a sudden storm or equipment failure, such as a broken rudder that prevented to control the ship.”
Still, the archaeologists say that they expect to discover more wrecks in the future. At the present time, they have only examined roughly 5% of the area. According to Campbell, the group plans to return to the area next year to make more amazing discoveries.