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Ten Shipwrecks Spanning 5,000 Years of Historical past Noticed off Kasos Island


Underwater archaeologists exploring the ocean backside off the seashores of Greece’s Kasos Island found one thing not completely surprising, however nonetheless fairly stunning. Over the course of 4 years of exploration, they noticed and recognized ruins and artifacts from roughly 10 completely different shipwrecks, with one courting again so far as 3,000 BC.

Whereas they might have been on the lookout for the stays of misplaced ships, the archaeologists by no means anticipated to find such a formidable bounty of maritime wreckage and fantastically preserved objects. These finds will probably be invaluable to scientists and teachers searching for to be taught extra concerning the historical past of economic delivery within the southern Aegean and Mediterranean seas in historical instances, and amongst different issues they reveal the true nature of the risks related to sea journey within the area all through historical past.

The Kasos Maritime Archaeological Mission and its Superb Outcomes

The explorations that produced this outstanding consequence have been launched beneath the auspices of the Kasos Maritime Archaeological Mission, which started in 2019 and concluded in October 2023. The Greek Ministry of Tradition and the nation’s Nationwide Hellenic Analysis Basis collectively sponsored this bold initiative, which was particularly designed to detect historical and/or fashionable shipwrecks and determine their origin and cargoes.

Through the last undersea survey that came about final autumn, greater than 20,000 underwater pictures of the collected wreckage have been taken, which at the moment are being studied intently to create a last stock of the Kasos Mission’s discoveries.

As a result of the ships have been discovered grounded in pretty shallow waters, at depths starting from 65 to 150 toes (20 to 47 meters), it was doable for human divers to analyze and {photograph} the websites of the shipwreck immediately, eliminating the necessity to deploy remote-controlled robotic explorers to hold out such duties. The Kasos Mission researchers did make use of applicable fashionable know-how, nonetheless, deploying a specifically engineered sonar machine to scan the reefs round Kasos for indicators of wrecked particles and artifacts (and in addition to make an in depth map of a beforehand unexamined area).

The chronological vary of the newly found shipwrecks is extraordinary. The Ministry of Tradition just lately launched pictures of the ruins and artifacts, whereas revealing that they dated again to Greece’s prehistory (3,000 BC), Classical Interval (460 BC), Hellenistic Interval (100 BC to 100 AD), and medieval and Ottoman durations (the latter resulted in 1822). The doomed ships have been in-built and launched from Greece, Italy, Spain, Africa and western Asia, and the cargoes they carried have been crammed with priceless and extremely coveted objects.

Researchers taking measurements at one of the wreck sites. (Greek Ministry of Culture)

Researchers taking measurements at one of many wreck websites. (Greek Ministry of Tradition)

Along with the wrecks from these notable historic timeframes, the archaeologists additionally recognized the stays of a sunken ship that may have been crusing the waters round Kasos in the course of the World Battle II period. This was a wood and metallic vessel that measured between 80 and 100 toes (25 and 30 meters) lengthy, and as of but its actual id has not been established.

Researchers will doubtless spend years inspecting the artifacts which have been recovered, and the images of all the pieces that has been left in place to make sure its continued preservation. They hope to realize priceless insights into historical maritime commerce routes and the character of the business exchanges that came about throughout varied historic eras.

A Plethora of Artifacts By the Ages

Whereas a lot work is left to be accomplished, the contributors within the Kasos Maritime Archaeological Mission have already recognized lots of the artifacts they’ve seen or recovered. Among the many extra fascinating discoveries are a number of 1,800-1,900-year-old Spanish amphora, that are tall jugs with skinny necks used to move liquids throughout lengthy distances. The Kasos Mission archaeologists have additionally listed several types of historical consuming vessels, Roman-era pottery of African origin, and a heavy stone anchor courting to the distant Archaic Interval on their rising stock of fascinating finds.

The researchers logged 1000s of finds over the 4 years of the project. (Greek Ministry of Culture)

The researchers logged 1000s of finds over the 4 years of the challenge. (Greek Ministry of Tradition)

A Small Island at a Maritime Crossroads

Kasos Island is situated about 250 miles (400 kilometers) southeast of the Greek mainland, on the watery border the place the southern Aegean Sea merges with the Mediterranean. It at present has a inhabitants of simply over 1,000, however was inhabited by each Minoans from Crete and Mycenaean peoples in historical instances. Sitting at a midpoint between Greece and the lands of the Center East and North Africa, Kasos has been a crossing level for ships shifting backwards and forwards between these two areas for hundreds of years, and in addition for ships touring from farther east headed for Mesopotamia and the Anatolian Peninsula.

Due to its geographical proximity to so many energetic delivery lanes, underwater archaeologists knew it could be fertile floor for a seek for shipwrecks.

Researchers identified ten shipwrecks from as far back as 3,000 BC up to the modern era. (Greek Ministry of Culture)

Researchers recognized ten shipwrecks from way back to 3,000 BC as much as the trendy period. (Greek Ministry of Tradition)

The Kasos Maritime Archaeological Mission that carried out this quest was really an interdisciplinary affair. It included historians, underwater archaeologists, surveyors, conservators, architects, marine biologists, geologists, graduate college students and PhD candidates, and researchers in varied specialties from all all over the world.

Decided to set a template for future underwater exploration initiatives, challenge crew members documented all the pieces they noticed by means of digital pictures and video, whereas transporting artifact samples to the floor for hands-on investigation. They took nice care to make sure the websites of the shipwrecks weren’t disturbed or broken in any method, guaranteeing that future diving groups may have entry to the wreck places they found and mapped.

Now that the Kasos Maritime Archaeological Mission is full, researchers have a wealth of major archaeological and geological information to check and consider. In June 2024, a brand new challenge will probably be launched to discover the underwater areas across the island of Karpathos, which is adjoining to Kasos and in addition a location the place shipwrecks are prone to be present in abundance.

Shortly earlier than the completion of the Kasos Mission in October, the Greek Ministry of Tradition launched a brief documentary movie concerning the initiative and its discoveries known as “Diving into the Historical past of the Aegean.” This movie is at present out there on YouTube in each Greek and English variations.

Prime picture: Researchers logging an anchor at one of many ten shipwreck websites discovered off Kasos. Supply: Greek Ministry of Tradition

By Nathan Falde



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