Dive into the intriguing world of ancient shipwrecks as we explore the Fourni archipelago, the shipwreck capital of the world. Discover the secrets of long-distance trade routes and the cargo that was found beneath the waves in this tiny Greek archipelago.
With an astounding 58 shipwrecks found among the 13 islands and islets, the small Fourni archipelago has earned itself the title of the ancient shipwreck capital of the world! Underwater archaeologists are thrilled by the hidden secrets in this area, which have revealed valuable information about long-distance trade routes between the Black Sea, Aegean Sea, Cyprus, the Levant, and Egypt throughout the ages.
The experts were not only surprised by the number of shipwrecks spanning various centuries but also by the diverse cargoes they carried, some of which were found for the first time. The multitude of wrecks is likely evidence of the significant traffic in the area rather than the area being unsafe.
Out of the 58 shipwrecks identified in the Fourni archipelago, one in particular stands out the most due to its structural integrity and diverse cargo. This shipwreck carries six different types of amphorae, originating from the Crimea and Heraclea Pontica regions, along with domestic pottery from the Phocaea region in northwestern Asia Minor.
During the 2021 and 2022 surveys, researchers cleared sand deposits and opened a test trench, revealing the wreck's stratigraphy. Around 15 buried amphorae were uncovered, including one type attributed to the city of Sinope on the Black Sea.
In addition, table wares and wooden parts believed to be from the vessel's hull were retrieved. These findings allowed scientists to date the wreck quite accurately between 480 and 520 AD, likely during Emperor Anastasius I Dicorus' reign (491-518 AD), who is known for his fiscal and monetary reforms that fueled the expansionist policies of 6th-century emperors.
The Fourni archipelago's astounding shipwrecks offer a unique window into the past. These artifacts continue to provide invaluable insights into ancient maritime trade and the history of the Mediterranean region. As underwater archaeologists continue to unravel the mysteries hidden in these sunken vessels, we are reminded of the incredible stories that lie beneath the sea, waiting to be discovered and shared with the world.
KORSEAI - INSTITUTE OF HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL RESEARCH