new search is under way to find the wreckage of
an ancient Iranian fleet on the seabed off the
coast of Greece.
cooperation with the Center for Maritime
Research that has found over 30 wrecks within
five years, the Ephorate of Coastal Antiquities,
with the help of American and Canadian experts,
will resume their search in June in the areas of
Kili and Artemisio, off Evia’s northern tip.
Despite the ephorate’s modest budget (this
year’s is unchanged from last year’s at
400,000 euros), exploration will be expanded to
cover the seabed off the coast of Inousses
island in a pilot program on the 3D imaging of
an ancient wreck.
Archaeological maritime exploration has
contributed to the development of technology for
preserving wrecks found in the sea and to
methods of preserving antiquities.
For example, for the first time ever an
archaeologist has been able to dive to a depth
of 480 meters in the Aegean. Paraskevi Micha
made the dive recently with the operator of the
bathyscape near the island of Kythnos, where a
few months ago an impressive, headless bronze
statue had been recovered, possibly dating from
the fourth century BC. They remained for two
hours on the seabed, filming the area. Later the
operator went down again in the bathyscape and
brought up amphorae using two mechanical claws.
A conference on the subject was held in late
March by the Culture Ministry for Greek and
foreign experts. Traditional techniques and
materials such as camphor and silicon have
helped preserve antiquities found on the seabed,
according to Wayne Smith, a professor at the
University of Texas.
Sakellariou of the Center for Maritime Research
explained how sediment accumulates on the seabed
in Greek waters, and how sound waves can trace
the presence of wrecks. These sound waves help
date the findings and enable conclusions to be
drawn on the amount of damage caused by, for
Another effect on wrecks is the action of
microorganisms, the most dangerous of which is
the Terendo navalis worm that sticks to the
timber of old ships and is capable of reducing
it to the consistency of soap. Thousands of
microorganisms thrive in Greek waters, not only
because of its geographical position but its
water temperatures. Another way to protect
wrecks is by the use of geofibers. Anastasia
Pournou of the Technical Institute of Athens
described the use of this material, which was
first used in Greece in 1995 on a 16th century
wreck near the island of Zakynthos.
Archaeologists found the hull, cannon parts,
coins and pottery from this Spanish ship, which
had been carrying a cargo of hazelnuts.
Two years later, it appeared that the decision
to cover the hull with geofiber had been
correct. In 2000 experts repeated the
experiment, but the results have not yet been
Preserving an ancient artifact is something like
looking after a sick patient, explained ephor
Katerina Delaporta, and methods are constantly
being revised, as with a Viking ship in
Stockholm. For years it was thought that the
methods being used were the best, but 30 years
later it was found that they harmed other parts
of the ship.
Greece’s seas are scattered with ancient
wrecks. Mapping carried out for years by the
Ephorate of Marine Antiquities, according to
sources, recommendations and ancient traditions,
and with bibliographic help, show over 1,000 of
them lying on the Greek seabed.