Archaeologists Discover 22 Greek Shipwrecks, Uncover Ancient Mediterranean Trade Network

PHOTO: Archaeologists discovered 22 shipwrecks in the Greek islands of Fourni over the course of two weeks at the end of September.Vasilis Mentogiannis
Archaeologists discovered 22 shipwrecks in the Greek islands of Fourni over the course of two weeks at the end of September.

Archaeologists have discovered 22 shipwrecks in what they are calling the shipwreck capital of the world.

In a 13-day expedition to the Fourni archipelago, a collection of 13 Greek islands and islets in the eastern Aegean Sea, archaeologists found wreckage from 22 shipwrecks, a news release provided by Peter Campbell, a director of the project, said.

The wrecks “bring to light ancient trade networks that once connected the entire Mediterranean,” according to the news release.

PHOTO: Archaeologists discovered 22 shipwrecks in the Greek islands of Fourni over the course of two weeks at the end of September.Vasilis Mentogiannis
Archaeologists discovered 22 shipwrecks in the Greek islands of Fourni over the course of two weeks at the end of September.

"This is what is so interesting and unique: most big shipwreck collections we have are from harbors," Campbell told ABC News today. "But Fourni is a collection of ships that were on their way rather than in a destination, so it tells us how they navigated."

The expedition, which took place at the end of September and was launched and funded by the Greek Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities and the Honor Frost Foundation, spanned 17 square miles, Jeffrey Royal, archaeological director at RPM Nautical Foundation and a director of the project, told ABC News today.

PHOTO: Archaeologists discovered 22 shipwrecks in the Greek islands of Fourni over the course of two weeks at the end of September.Vasilis Mentogiannis
Archaeologists discovered 22 shipwrecks in the Greek islands of Fourni over the course of two weeks at the end of September.

He added that archaeologists uncovered wrecks from the Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic, Roman, Late Roman and Late Medieval periods, an expanse of over 1,000 years.

“The dates are derived from the amphoras -- large clay jars that were containers for the cargo being shipped,” Royal said. “The consumable cargo was primarily wine, olive oil and fish products, but also likely included fruits, nuts, specialty wines and sauces."

PHOTO: Archaeologists discovered 22 shipwrecks in the Greek islands of Fourni over the course of two weeks at the end of September.Vasilis Mentogiannis
Archaeologists discovered 22 shipwrecks in the Greek islands of Fourni over the course of two weeks at the end of September.

The findings are undergoing conservation at the Greek Ephorates laboratory, Royal said, and further studies will reveal more information about the cargo and help narrow the date ranges.

Campbell added: "Our success came from our combination of working with local fishermen and sponge divers together with traditional archaeological survey and high-tech methods. We expected three to four wrecks and would have been happy; 22 wrecks blew us away."

PHOTO: Archaeologists discovered 22 shipwrecks in the Greek islands of Fourni over the course of two weeks at the end of September.Vasilis Mentogiannis
Archaeologists discovered 22 shipwrecks in the Greek islands of Fourni over the course of two weeks at the end of September.

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