Shipwrecks in Greece and other news

In a survey carried out last month, 22 shipwrecks have been found in the sea near a small archipelago in Greece (13 islands and islets between the islands of Samos and Icaria in the Aegean Sea). The shipwrecks occupy in total an area of 44 square meters, mostly around the coast of Fourni, a harbour that in antiquity was a strategic point for the ships going both north-south and east-west, travelling back and forth between Greece and Asia Minor.

More than half of these shipwrecks are dated to the Late Roman Period (ca. AD 300–600), but some of them date to the Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic periods.  More modern shipwrecks, from the sixteenth century, are present as well. The material from the shipwrecks consist largely of amphorae and jars, and are evidence of contacts between the Black Sea, the Aegean Sea, Cyprus, the Levant, and Egypt.

Three special cargos from the shipwrecks are worth mentioning: a group of Archaic vessels from Samos that were probably destined to Cyprus; a group of huge amphorae of the second century AD from the region around the Black Sea, containing fish sauce, and finally; a group of Late Roman carrot-shaped amphorae from Sinop in Turkey. Nice image galleries can be seen on the websites of both Discovery and LiveScience.

In Jerusalem, excavators working at the City of David archaeological site unearthed what they interpret as the remains of the Acra, a fortress constructed by Antiochus IV Epiphanes (215–164 BC) to control access to the Temple Mount, and run by mercenary soldiers and Hellenized Jews. The existence of the fortress is known from some written sources, such as the Book of Maccabees and the work by Flavius Josephus, but its location was – or perhaps still is – a matter of debate. Finds discovered around the unearthed structure include lead slingshots, bronze arrowheads, and ballista stones dated to Antiochus Epiphanes’ reign. Coins were also recovered at the site, which show the continued use of the structure from the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes until the reign of Antiochus VII (139–129 BC).

On the acropolis at the ancient site Feneos, a temple dedicated to Asclepius, discovered around a century ago, has now been the subject of excavations. According to the excavators, the temple was first build in the fourth century BC, and reconstructed and enlarged in the second century BC. To this second phase belong the main room, which contained the statues of the god Asclepius and his daughter Hygeia and was decorated by a nice geometric floor mosaic. Another two rooms, as well as a P-shaped courtyard with coloured mortar and gutters shaped like lion-heads, were also found. The temple was probably destroyed by an earthquake in the first century AD and, once reconstructed, dedicated to the cult of the emperor.

In southern Bulgaria, at the ancient site of Plovdiv, remains from wooden homes have been unearthed that date to the Middle Bronze Age. The site has yielded also remains from other periods, including the Hellenistic period and Late Antiquity.

To conclude, a nice article on the ancient site of Doliche, part of Syria during the Roman period, but today located in modern Turkey, shows the structures and the finds, such as the noteworthy mosaics, that have been unearthed there. The site is remarkable not only for the nice finds, but also because it can considerably help in reconstructing the cultural history of Syria during the Hellenistic-Roman period.

Picture credit: thumbnail for this post taken from this article on the shipwrecks.

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