2003 SEASON: Mt. Athos

PERSIAN WAR SHIPWRECK SURVEY


 

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SUMMARY

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 Phonias.

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 in 2004.

 

               
     
MAP OF NORTHERN AEGEAN COAST WITH THE ATHOS PENINSULA HIGHLIGHTED
       
               
   
               

 
THE R/V AEGAEO
     
THE ROV SUPER ACHILLES
         
JAR CONTAINING SAUROTER
   
     
               
                                   

   
 

TEAM MEMBERS

The expedition was a collaborative project of the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities (EEA), the Canadian Institute in Greece (CIG), and HCMR. The project leaders were Ms. Katerina Dellaporta, Ephor of the EEA, Dr. Shelley Wachsmann of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology (INA) at Texas A&M University, and Mr. Anastasios Mitrousis (Chief Scientist) of HCMR. The EEA team included Mr. Dionisis Evangelistis, Ms. Paraskevi Micha, and Dr. Michael Wedde. The CIG team included Dr. John Hale, Dr. William Haxby, Dr. Robert Hohlfelder, Dr. Dana Yoerger and Dr. Hanumant Singh, Mr. Dan Davis, and Dr. Stefanie Kennell. The HCMR team included Cmdr. Spyridon Volonakis (Head of Underwater and Submersible Operations), Mr. John Pambidis, Mr. Prokopis Madopoulos, Mr. Kostas Katsaros, Mr. Theodoros Fotopoulos, Mr. Angelos Mallios, Mr. Vasilis Babas, Mr. Vasilis Stasinos and Mr. Vangelis Fotiou. The R/V Aegaeo was under the command of Captain Konstantinos M. Chandras.

 
 

All text and images are property of the Persian Wars Shipwreck Survey Project Team. Please contact Dr. Shelley Wachsmann (swachsmann@tamu.edu) and gain permission prior to use.

2006