10 Shipwrecks Dated Between 3000 BC to WWII Found Off the Coast of Greece

Samantha Franco
Photo Credit: Ministry of Education
Photo Credit: Ministry of Education

Greece has always been a place rich in history and culture. Exploring the area around the Greek island of Kasos has proven to be no different. Researchers uncovered an incredible hoard of shipwrecks off its coast, dating across several millennia and providing invaluable knowledge to our understanding of the area.

It’s been a four-year-long project

A diver swimming over a shipwreck.
The team carried out a four-year exploration around Kasos. (Photo Credit: Ministry of Education)

Beginning in 2019, a team of interdisciplinary researchers began a four-year exploration of the waters surrounding Kasos, a small Greek island in the Aegean Sea. Through the Kasos Maritime Archaeological Project, the team of historians, architects, diving archaeologists, geologists, post-graduate students, and other specialists took over 20,000 photographs and made maps of the Kasos-Karpathos reef using side-scanning sonar.

“This island has long been overlooked in historical narratives, and we aimed to uncover its significance in ancient maritime networks,” said Xanthie Argiris, a marine archaeologist on the project. Kasos has long served as a trading hub in the area, and the team was eager to unlock its secrets hidden below the water. The team even used Homer’s Iliad, the 8th-century BC epic, and other historical sources to help in their study of the area.

“It is the first systematic research on the seabed of Kasos with the main objective of locating, recording and studying the antiquities of an area at the crossroads of cultures and once a center of navigation,” the survey’s website reads.

Finding the 10 ships

Two divers study a shipwreck.
They found 10 shipwrecks with dates spanning over several millennia. (Photo Credit: Ministry of Education)

Throughout the four years, the team identified 10 shipwrecks that all vary in age. The oldest is believed to be from around 3,000 BC, making it over 5,000 years old. In contrast, the youngest ship discovered appears to be from around the Second World War. Made from wood, the WWII-era ship measures between 82 and 98 feet long.

All of the ships discovered were found at depths ranging between 65 and 155 feet, and they all sank at various points in history. These include ships from the Classical period (460 BC), the Hellenistic period (100 BC to 100 AD), and the Byzantine period (800 – 900 AD).

Other artifacts were discovered as well

A diver studies pottery underwater.
The area revealed a rich collection of artifacts. (Photo Credit: Ministry of Education)

Alongside the shipwrecks, the team discovered a plethora of artifacts that also dated throughout various times in history, including items from classical antiquity as well as from the medieval and Ottoman periods. It was determined that some of these ships carried valuable goods from places like Spain, Italy, Africa, and Asia, with items such as Spanish amphoras and African flasks being identified. Within the trove, a stone anchor was discovered and dated to the Archaic Period, which spanned from the 8th to 5th century BC.

The timeline of these items proves that Kasos was not only a valuable trading hub in ancient history but that it has maintained its importance throughout the centuries. The island has served as a “maritime crossroads throughout the ages.”

The project has been recorded in an 11-minute documentary film called Diving in the History of the Aegean.

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Moving forward, the team plans to explore the area surrounding the neighboring island of Karpathos.