|Greek experts find Roman-era shipwrecks nearly a mile deep off an island|
Broken ancient pottery from the wreck of a 3rd century AD Roman-era ship found 1.2 kilometers deep off the western coast of Greece is seen in this undated photo issued by Greek Culture Ministry on Tuesday, May 29, 2012. Greece's culture ministry says an undersea survey ahead of the sinking of a Greek-Italian gas pipe has discovered the deepest-known shipwrecks in the Mediterranean. A ministry statement Tuesday said the two Roman-era wrecks found far offshore also disprove the generally accepted theory that ancient shipmasters stuck to coastal waters rather than risking open-sea routes. AP Photo/Greek Culture Ministry.
By: Nicholas Paphitis, Associated Press
ATHENS (AP).- Two Roman-era shipwrecks have been found in deep water off a western Greek island, challenging the conventional theory that ancient shipmasters stuck to coastal routes rather than risking the open sea, an official said Tuesday.
Greece's culture ministry said the two third-century wrecks were discovered earlier this month during a survey of an area where a Greek-Italian gas pipeline is to be sunk. They lay between 1.2 and 1.4 kilometers (0.7-0.9 miles) deep in the sea between Corfu and Italy.
That would place them among the deepest known ancient wrecks in the Mediterranean, apart from remains found in 1999 of an older vessel some 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) deep off Cyprus.
Angeliki Simossi, head of Greece's underwater antiquities department, said sunken ancient ships are generally found 30-40 meters (100-130 feet) deep.
Most scholars believe that ancient traders were unwilling to veer far offshore, unlike warships which were unburdened by ballast and cargo.
"There are many Roman shipwrecks, but these are in deep waters. They were not sailing close to the coast," Simossi said.
"The conventional theory was that, as these were small vessels up to 25 meters (80 feet) long, they did not have the capacity to navigate far from the coast, so that if there was a wreck they would be close enough to the coast to save the crew," she said.
U.S. archaeologist Brendan Foley, who was not involved in the project, said a series of ancient wrecks located far from land over the past 15 years has forced experts to reconsider the coast-hugging theory.
"The Ministry of Culture's latest discoveries are crucial hard data showing the actual patterns of ancient seafaring and commerce," said Foley, a deep water archaeology expert at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts.
Jeffrey Royal, director of the Key West, Florida, based RPM Nautical Foundation, said that in many cases as when winds threatened to push ships onto rocks ancient mariners made a conscious effort to avoid coastal waters.
Royal, whose foundation has carried out a series of Mediterranean underwater projects, said the depth of such finds is immaterial from an archaeological standpoint.
"In antiquity ships didn't sail around with depth finders and keep track of how deep they were," he said. "It was more how far they were on the surface in relation to land. After 30 meters of depth the boat's safe, so if it's 30 meters (100 feet) or 3,000 meters it's a little irrelevant."
The remains were located during an investigation that covered 200 square kilometers (77 square miles) of seabed off the islands of Corfu and Paxoi.
A Greek oceanographic vessel using side-scan radar and robot submarines took footage of scattered cargo storage jars, or amphorae, used to carry foodstuffs and wine cooking utensils for the crew, anchors, ballast stones and what could be remains of the wooden ships.
The team also raised samples of pottery and a marble vase.
The one ship was carrying the kind of amphorae produced in north Africa, and Simossi said it might have sailed from there and headed for Greece after a stop in Italy.
Foley said deep wrecks are very important because they are almost always more intact than those found in shallow water.
"So they contain far more archaeological and historical information than other sites," he said in an email. "As a result, the deep sea floor of the Mediterranean is the world's greatest repository for information about the earliest civilizations."
The discovery comes amid Greece's acute financial crisis, which has also taken a toll on funding for archaeology.
Simossi said her department, which monitors a vast area rich in ancient wrecks and sunken settlements, had its staff reduced by half because of non-renewed contracts and retirees who were not replaced.
"There were 89 of us and there are 45 left," she said. "We are fighting tooth and claw to keep afloat."
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.
May 30, 2012
Frieder Burda's collection on view for the first time in France at Musée Granet
First exhibition on the work of eighteenth-century court goldsmith opens at the Frick Collection
Baroness Carmen Thyssen Bornemisza to sell "The Lock" by John Constable at Christie's
Greek experts find Roman-era shipwrecks nearly a mile deep off an island
Archaeologists discover One thousand years of history in a Sicilian farmland estate
1,600-year-old mosaic at Israeli city of Tiberias synagogue damaged by vandals
Sotheby's to offer a fully functioning Apple I; First Apple Computer made by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak
Scottish auctioneers to sell the collection of a U.S. media family in Edinburgh
China Guardian Auctions Co.'s 2012 Spring Auctions season yields over $337mm USD in sales
Andy Warhol's take on the Queen, from the Reigning Queens series, for sale at Bonhams
Christie's Hong Kong Spring Sales of Chinese Paintings achieve HK$782,284,000/US$100,758,179
South Africa's Goodman Gallery to remove painting from website after thousands protest
"Goin' Home, Goin Home": Mike Kelley's mobile homestead to be built in Detroit
Susanne Ghez steps down at The Renaissance Society after 40 years
Fundacion Mapfre presents the exhibition Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938)
Historic New England awards prize for collecting works on paper
Author's son seeks Malcolm X letter at Syracuse
Julien's Auctions to resent Sports Legends/Music Icons Auction on June 23rd and 24th
Galleri Lars Olsen presents two video works by Swiss artist Jessica Faiss
1908 Summer Games set the stage for other Olympics
Most Popular Last Seven Days
1.- Mexican archaeologists study cave paintings found in the northeast part of Argentina
2.- Exhibition of nude photography around 1900 on view at Berlin's Photography Museum
3.- Top of the bill: Giant rubber duck by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman sails into Hong Kong
4.- Researchers say first permanent English settlers in America resorted to cannibalism
5.- Russia's great museums feud over revival plan of Moscow museum of Western art
6.- Dartmouth's Hood Museum appoints first African Art Curator
7.- Survey exhibition of American artist Ellen Gallagher's work opens at Tate Modern
8.- Exhibition of nude photography around 1900 on view at Berlin's Photography Museum
9.- Paris Photo Los Angeles concludes a successful first edition with over 13,500 visitors
10.- Excavation unearths evidence of Thessaloniki's urban life between 4th and 9th centuries AD
Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .
|Royalville Communications, Inc|