The Study and Documentation of Shipwreck No15 from the Early Byzantine Period (2021)

The sixth research mission of the Ephorate of Marine Antiquities in the Fournoi archipelago focused on the study and documentation of a shipwreck from the early Byzantine period.

Location and Significance of the Wreck

The shipwreck was located despite Cape Fygou (Aspros Kavos), north of the Kamari settlement, on the eastern coast of Fournoi, in a steeply sloping, sandy bottom at a depth of 43-48 meters, in one of the steepest and most inaccessible areas of Fournoi, which is affected by strong winds during most of the year.

Surveying the Wreck: Uncovering History

Out of a total of 58 shipwrecks identified in the Fournoi archipelago, it was chosen as the most scientifically interesting, both because of its integrity and coherence and because of the heterogeneous load it carries, from six different types of amphorae, originating from the Crimean region and Heraklion of the Pontus of the Black Sea. The main load is flanked by a complementary load of table pottery, originating from the region of Phocaea in northwestern Asia Minor.

The 2021 survey focused on the perimeter cleaning of part of the western, shallower side of the wreck from sand deposits and the opening of a test section, extending to its northwest corner, to diagnose the wreck’s stratigraphy. About 15 buried amphorae were discovered, including a type of amphora attributed to the Black Sea city of Sinope, a quantity of table pottery and wood fragments attributed to the skeleton of the hull, which probably survived in the anoxic sand layer below the cargo of the wreck.

Dating the Shipwreck: Clues from Pottery

The raised table pottery was particularly enlightening regarding the more precise chronological inclusion of this wreck, which can now be safely dated between 480 and 520 AD, probably during the years of Emperor Anastasios I (491 – 518 AD). BC), of the Leon dynasty, known from historiographical sources mainly for his fiscal and monetary reforms, which strengthened the state’s coffers and enabled the expansionist policy of the emperors of the 6th century.

Beyond the Excavated Wreck: Documenting Fournoi’s Maritime Past

In parallel with the test sections on the wreck, actions were taken to document other wrecks in Fournoi within the framework of the European Cross-Border Cooperation Program Interreg VA Greece – Cyprus 2014-2020, “Diving Routes in Marine Protected Areas of the Eastern Mediterranean – Development of a Diving Tourism Network (An.Di.Ka.T.).”

Research Team and Collaborations

The research’s general direction was the Ephorate of Marine Antiquities archaeologist Dr. George Koutsouflakis. The research was framed by a staff of 25 divers from different specialties (archaeologists, architects, antiquities conservators, professional divers, photographers, filmmakers, undergraduate and postgraduate students).

Diving Deep: The Research Effort

As part of the research, 292 individual dives were carried out, corresponding to approximately 220 hours of work on the seabed. The research data collected are considered extremely important for organizing the systematic excavation of the wreck in the near future.

Acknowledgements and Support

The Municipality of Fournoi Korseai financially and logistically supported the research, the European Program “Interreg Greece – Cyprus 2014-2020 An.Di.Ka.T.”, the “Korseai” Foundation, the Explorers Club Foundation and the companies Hellenic Seaways, Blue Star Ferries, Seiko Japan and Scubapro USA. Warm thanks are due to the Mayor of Fournoi-Korseai, Mr. Dimitrios Karydis, the staff of the Port of Fournoi and Alexandros Schwarzenberg.

Korseai Institute of Historical & Archaeological Research

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