Unveiling the Depths: Fournoi Underwater Archaeological Survey Concludes Successful 2018 Season

The fourth season of the Fournoi Underwater Survey, a collaboration between the Hellenic Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities and RPM Nautical Foundation, has been completed. From 7-29 September, the project continued to survey, document, and study the ancient, medieval, and post-medieval shipwrecks of the Fournoi archipelago in the eastern Aegean Sea.

A Wealth of Wrecks: Discoveries from the Eastern Aegean

Ancient Trade Routes Revealed: Shipwrecks Spanning Centuries

New wrecks dating from the Hellenistic and Roman periods through modern times were found during the season. The total number of known wrecks, including those from the campaigns 2015-2017, amounts to 58. In addition to the wreck sites, many isolated finds, such as anchors, were documented. These findings are helping to reveal maritime trade and navigation networks in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Discoveries during the 2018 season include:

  • A 2nd century BC shipwreck carrying a cargo of Knidian amphorae.
  • A 4th century BC shipwreck with a mixed cargo of Aegean and Phoenician amphorae.
  • A 5th-6th century AD shipwreck with a cargo of Late Roman 01 amphorae.

A Bustling Harbor Unearthed: Anchors Hint at a Thriving Settlement

Another important find was the location of a large and extended anchorage off the coast of the modern village Kamari on the eastern side of Fournoi. More than 25 individual anchors were identified dating from the Roman period to the 18th century AD, some of which belong to ships of considerable size. Their location, in such large quantity, indicates the presence of a prosperous settlement in Kamari that thrived during the Roman and Byzantine periods, for which we lack mention from the historians and writers of that period.

Everyday Life Illuminated: Lamp Assembly Offers Glimpse into Ancient Corinthian Workshops

Among the most impressive finds of the 2018 campaign was the location of an assemblage of 18 clay lamps dating to the 2nd century AD and decorated with images of ancient sculpture, scenes of gladiators, and geometrical designs. All were products of well-known workshops in ancient Corinth. The bases of the lamps were inscribed with the names of Loucios and Octavios, probably freed ex-slaves who were named after their former owners and became active artisans establishing their workshops in Corinth.

Preserving the Past for the Future: Next Steps and Acknowledgements

The primary focus of the 2018 season was documenting and raising artifacts for further study. This work will allow for the proper publication of the findings and protection of the underwater sites.

Local Knowledge: Community Collaboration for Archaeological Success

Key to the project’s success was the assistance of the local population and the fishermen community, who provided information on the location of the new sites.The research was conducted under the directorship of Dr. George Koutsouflakis (Hellenic Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities) and Dr. Peter Campbell (RPM Nautical Foundation).
The 2018 campaign has been supported and financed by the Municipality of Fournoi, the Korseai Institute of Historical and Archaeological Research, the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, and private donors from Greece and the United States.

Looking Ahead: New Research Program for Fournoi

With the completion of the 2018 campaign, the first cycle of the archaeological research in Fournoi has been completed. Over the next few months, a new five-year program (2019-2023) will be submitted to the Hellenic Ministry of Culture.

Korseai Institute of Historical & Archaeological Research

Our mission is to advance the understanding of the past through rigorous research and innovative approaches.