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Expedition finds 22 ancient shipwrecks

Fourni shipwreck

Waters around the Greek Islands have long been noted for ancient underwater shipwrecks.

The recent relaxation of restrictions on scuba diving has also meant that amateur divers can explore some of the most fascinating finds in the Mediterranean.

Now scuba diving archaeologists have discovered a total of 22 shipwrecks near the Fourni archipelago that many experts are now rating as one of the top discoveries of 2015.

The ancient wrecks were discovered during a joint Greek-American expedition in the Fourni archipelago, a group of 13 tiny islands found between the islands of Samos, Patmos and Ikaria.

Fourni was once in the centre of a several major sea ship routes that linked the Aegean to the Levant.

Ancient ships sailing between the Greek mainland and Asia Minor often stopped off at Fourni, which had deep water anchorages.

The first underwater archaeological expedition to the area has unearthed an astounding number of wrecks.

More than half of the wrecks date to the Late Roman Period, 300-600 A.D. but range from the Greek Archaic to the Classical periods between 600 and 1,200 years earlier while some date from the 16th century.

Even more astonishing is the range of cargo that was unearthed during the expedition including examples of rare amphorae from Egypt and the Black Sea.

The shipments show that long distance trade between the Black Sea, the Aegean, Cyprus, the Levant, and Egypt was far greater than first thought.

Artefacts raised from each wreck site will go for scientific analysis before going on display in museums across Greece.

Archaeologists are confident of finding even more wrecks in the area as they have so far surveyed only about five per cent of the Fourni coastline.

The expedition plans to return to Fourni next year to continue the survey.

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