2,000-Year-Old Shipwrecks With Cargo Discovered Off Greek Island

In what is being hailed as an “important find,” five ancient, cargo-laden shipwrecks — one dating back to the 3rd century — have been discovered off a Greek islet.

Archaeologists also found a large anchor and amphorae, ancient containers used to transport goods such as wine, along with the shipwrecks, according to a statement from the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sport.

A diver inspects an amphora, or ancient jar, found with one of the wrecks off Levitha, Greece. (Photo Credit: Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities / Greek Ministry of Culture and Sport)

While some of the amphorae came from Greek Aegean islands such as Knidos Kos and Rhodes, others came from the ancient Phoenician civilization and its city of Carthage in North Africa. They were dated to the 3rd century BC, during the era of the Ptolemaic Kingdom, which ended with the deaths of Cleopatra and her son.

The archaeological mission was conducted in June near the island of Levitha, a small Greek island in the Aegean Sea between Amorgos and Leros, by the Greek Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities.

A diver brings up one of the amphorae found with the wreck. (Photo Credit: Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities / Greek Ministry of Culture and Sport)

The granite anchor pole, which dates back to the 6th century BC, was found 147 feet down and weighs 881 pounds, Euronews reported. It is believed to have been used on a “colossal-sized ship.” Archaeologists say it may be the largest stone pillar from the Archaic Period ever found in the Aegean.

The mission that resulted in the discovery is part of a three-year project that runs through 2021 and aims to identify and document ancient shipwrecks near the islands of Levitha, Mauria, Glaros and Kinaros. The area “played a key role in ancient and modern navigation,” the Greek Culture Ministry said.

A giant anchor pole, which dates back to the 6th century BC and weighs more than 880 pounds, was also found. (Photo Credit: Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities / Greek Ministry of Culture and Sport)

A total of 57 group dives with 92 hours of seabed survey work were carried out so far this year. Remnants of eight total wrecks were found, dating mainly to the Hellenistic and Roman periods.

“In addition to the wrecks, a number of other discoveries, notably pottery discharges and anchors, documented a continued use of this sea route from the Archaic to the Ottoman period,” officials said in the statement.

In June, archaeologists discovered an ancient, Roman-era wooden ship, also complete with cargo, off the eastern coast of Cyprus. It was believed to be the “first undisturbed Roman shipwreck” found in the Mediterranean island nation’s waters.

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