Ten ancient wrecks investigated in ten days

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Dimitris Kourkoumelis, Theotokis Theodoulou, and Brendan Foley with the Chios Strait and Aggios Stephanos islet in the background. Oinousses island is in the right background of the fram, and adjacent to Aggios Stephanos are sea bream aquaculture fish pens. (B. Foley)

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Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities Diving Officer Manolis Tzefronis swims over a Late Roman wreck near Chios, Greece. (Dimitris Kourkoumelis)

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Late Roman amphoras remain on a remarkably intact shipwreck in the Chios Strait. (Fred Dion)

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Chios shipwreck survey, 2008
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EUA-WHOI collaboration, Chios 2008

In 2008, the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities invited WHOI to return to the island of Chios, to participate in a shallow water archaeological survey. The Ephorate had received infromation from fishermen and other sources about several ancient shipwrecks in the vicinity of the island. The team was allowed ten days to locate and investigate these sites.

Chios is well-known to the team, as we conducted AUV operations there in 2005.

Over ten days in 2008, the team dived on ten acient shipwrecks around Chios and nearby Oinousses, using standard scuba gear. The wrecks dated from as long ago as the 7th century B.C., with the most recent from the Late Roman/Ottoman period (circa 6th century A.D.). A notable site is very shallow water on the north coast of Oinousses, a 5th century B.C. vessel carrying the typical bulging-neck amphoras from neighboring Chios. The vessel wedged between rock outcroppings. Over time, the wood of the hull was comsumed by marine organisms, and the jumble of amphoras and sherds concreted together. Sand underneath the wreck eroded, leaving the turn of the bilge evident in the cermic deposit, suspended between the ledges.

Another notable site appears to be the remains of a small coastal vessel, carrying a cargo of 4th century B.C. Chian amphoras. The wreck sits only a few meters off the eastern coast of Chios, in very shallow water. We intrept this as a local boat ferrying a small number of jars between villages on the island.

Many of the wrecks investigated in 2008 were badly disturbed, as is common with shallow sites. However, one of the wrecks was remarkably intact. It contained a cargo of Late Roman amphoras (see image to right).

Full publication of the survey is still in process.


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Last updated June 14, 2012
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