Skip to comments.Greek Shipwreck from 350 BC Revealed
Posted on 02/02/2006 3:53:32 PM PST by NormsRevenge
The remains of an ancient Greek cargo ship that sank more than 2,300 years ago have been uncovered with a deep-sea robot, archaeologists announced today.
The ship was carrying hundreds of ceramic jars of wine and olive oil and went down off Chios and the Oinoussai islands in the eastern Aegean Sea sometime around 350 B.C.
Archeologists speculate that a fire or rough weather may have sunk the ship. The wreckage was found submerged beneath 200 feet (60 meters) of water.
The researchers hope that the shipwreck will provide clues about the trade network that existed between the ancient Greek and their trading partners.
The wreck is "like a buried UPS truck," said David Mindell of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). "It provides a wealth of information that helps us figure out networks based on the contents of the truck."
The shipwreck was located using sonar scans performed by the Greek Ministry of Culture in 2004. In July of 2005, researchers returned to the site with the underwater robot, called SeaBed.
The robot scanned the shipwreck and scattered cargo and created a topographical sonar map of the region. It also took more than 7,500 images over of the site over the course of four dives. The researchers have assembled those images into a mosaic.
The study of the Chios shipwreck is part of a 10-year project that aims to examine ancient trade in the Mediterranean during the Bronze age (2500-1200 B.C.). In particular, the project will focus on the Minoan and Mycenaean cultures and their trading partners.
The investigating team also includes researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI), the Greek Ministry of Culture and the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR).
A photomosaic strip of a section of the Chios shipwreck. Most of the visible remains are ceramic storage jugs, called "amphoras," most of which carried wine. credit: WHOI, Hellenic Ministry of Culture, Hellenic Center for Marine Research
Fish swim by and a sponge grows among amphora from a 4th century B.C. Greek merchant shipwreck found off Chios in the Aegean Sea. credit: WHOI, Hellenic Ministry of Culture, Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities, and Hellenic Center for Marine Research
Any idea how the jugs with the pointed bottoms worked? Did they have wicker holders?
Greek-American Scientific collaboration
Chios July 2005
Survey of Classical Greek shipwreck, carried out by the Ephorate of Underwater Activities, HCMR and WHOI
Chios shipwreck ping
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The jugs with pointed bottoms were for bulk shipping. They were set upright into racks on board ship or tied together at the neck and slung across a donkeys back.
Once at the merchant's shop it would be poured out in smaller quantities for end sale.
Sorta like the 55 gallon drum of the eastern Mediterranean.
I have some coins from a Greek shipwreck of about the same vintage. They are not in great shape but they are still neat to have nonetheless.
Wow, great find.
This is really fascinating!
Too absolutely cool!
Makes sense. Shipping containers would have to be tied down somehow, so if they had holed planks already installed on cargo ships they would save handling and time. The pointed jugs could also be tied together in freestanding masses of three or more that would be perfectly stable.
The pointed jars were used for wine transportation. Since the Aegean sea is extremely rough, they pointed the bases so that they could easily be staked in sand, which would help prevent the jars from breaking during transportation.
That's some seriously aged wine!
Sand also for ballast, which the hulls might need anyway.
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