An ancient shipwreck dating back 1,500 years has been discovered off the coast of a group of Greek islands.
Resting on the seabed in the Fourni archipelago of islands in Greece, the shipwreck is located at a depth of around 150 feet. The wreck and its cargo is believed to come from the early Byzantine period, between 480 and 520, probably during the years of the emperor Anastasius I Dicorus.
The Fourni archipelago is home to one of the largest concentrations of old shipwrecks in the world.
Composed of 13 small islands, Fourni was important due to its location along routes that connected the Black and Aegean seas to Cyprus, the Levant, and Egypt, according to the non-profit research organization RPM Nautical.
A number of underwater surveys have been carried out in the area, uncovering dozens of shipwrecks. The findings reveal trade and technological changes across different time periods.
One particular shipwreck out of a total of 58 was selected as the most scientifically interesting due to its integrity and the fact that it was carrying a varied cargo. This wreck was on the east coast of Fourni and sat in one of the most inaccessible points of the region, which is affected by strong winds for much of the year.
In 2021 a research team visited the wreck, cleaning it of sand deposits and discovering table pottery, which helped them to accurately date the ship to between the years 480 and 520, images from which can be seen below.
Other items found at the site of the wreck include 15 different types of amphorae, a type of storage container. One of the amphora was attributed to the city of Sinop, also called Sinope historically, which is located on the southern coast of the Black Sea. Other containers were from the regions of Crimea and Heraklion.
At the time of the ship’s operation, Greece was reaching the end stages of the Leonid dynasty of which Anastasius I was the last emperor, before the Justinian dynasty began.
The Leonid dynasty was known for its tax and monetary reforms which allowed for expansionist ambitions in the following century.
Twenty five divers from different specialties, including archaeologists, conservationists, students and photographers performed a total of 292 dives were performed over 220 working hours on the seabed.
It is hoped that the data collected will aid in the excavation of the wreck in the near future.