Marine archaeologists have come across a treasure trove of shipwrecks dating back to the time of the Roman Empire off the coast of Greece.
The discovery was made in crystal clear water less than 30 meters (98 feet) deep in a harbor on the South coast of Naxos, a rugged Greek island that’s no stranger to archaeological discoveries.
At least eight shipwrecks were discovered; however, the researchers working on the project are confident there’s more lurking within the waters, reports Haaretz. This is mainly because the eight shipwrecks were found in such close proximity to each other. Four of the shipwrecks have not yet been visited by the team, so they can't confirm their dates yet.
Along with the shipwrecks, the team discovered remnants of building materials, pots, anchors, a pallet used for makeup, and several two-handled amphorae jugs that were most likely once filled with olive oil and wine.
“The vessels would have been loaded with anything profitable enough to justify a long and dangerous sea journey," Sven Ahrens, a marine archaeologist on the project, told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
“We assume that some of the content of amphorae found in anchorage areas was consumed by the crews and the empty amphorae were thrown overboard,” he added.
This area is being explored by the Norwegian Institute at Athens (NIA), the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities, and Norwegian Maritime Museum in an attempt to survey all ancient harbors along the South coast between Panermos and Aliko. These sites are believed to contain archeological evidence ranging from the Classical Greek era (approximately from the 5th to 4th century BCE) right up to end of the Byzantine Empire (1453 CE), also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire.
While their project namely relies on scuba diving to make their discoveries, they often employ the help of technology for some of the more fiddly work.
“The project carries out an extensive search of the seabed with Side-Scan Sonar and visually with free diving and scuba diving,” the NIA say on the Naxos project website. “The main mode of detail measurement is 3D photogrammetry.”
"The chronology of the ceramics is still being evaluated, but some finds indicate the harbour was used both before the settlement but also during its peak in the Byzantine period.”