The 2003 Season consisted of a two-week project surveying the seas
off the Mt. Athos peninsula in search of remains of a Persian fleet
which sank there in about 492 B.C. during Darius’ first attempt
to invade Greece. According to Herodotus (VI: 44), nearly 300 ships
were lost and over 20,000 men perished in a storm.
The research was conducted on the R/V Aegaeo of the Hellenic
Centre for Marine Research (HCMR) using its sidescan sonar, Thetis
submersible and Achilles remote-operated vehicle (ROV). An extensive
sidescan sonar survey in the waters to the east and south of the Athos
peninsula was carried out and covered approximately 170 square kilometers
of seabed. We also visually examined the southwestern area near Cape
Selected targets were then searched using the submersible and ROV.
The expedition discovered an amphora-carrying wreck in the Gulf of
Ierissos, tentatively dated to the Classical or early Hellenistic
period and, with information supplied by a local fisherman, relocated
the potential wreck site of a weapon-bearing Classical-period ship.
Examining the seabed in this area with an ROV, the team located a
jar at 96 meters of depth into which a resident octopus had sequestered
a pointed object. When raised this proved to be a bronze spear-butt
spike (Gk. sauroter) with remains of the wooden shaft still contained
within its socket.
These positive results lead to plans for a second season of research