Friday, 12 October 2018

Collection-Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record Damages Sites Even Underwater

In the Fournoi survey project (directed by Dr. Peter Campbell of the RPM Nautical Foundation and Dr. George Koutsouflakis from the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities) :
Archaeologists in Greece have discovered at least 58 shipwrecks, many laden with antiquities, in what they say may be the largest concentration of ancient wrecks ever found in the Aegean and possibly the whole of the Mediterranean. The wrecks lie in the small island archipelago of Fournoi, in the Eastern Aegean, and span a huge period from ancient Greece right through to the 20th century. Most are dated to the Greek, Roman and Byzantine eras. 
[Reuters Ancient shipwrecks found in Greek waters tell tale of trade routes October 11, 2018]  The survey team discovered the shipwrecks from sightings by local sponge divers and fishermen. The objects found in the wrecks, and documenting their relations with each other is providing information about the navigational routes that connected the ancient Mediterranean,
The vessels and their contents paint a picture of ships carrying goods on routes from the Black Sea, Greece, Asia Minor, Italy, Spain, Sicily, Cyprus, the Levant, Egypt and north Africa. The team has raised more than 300 antiquities from the shipwrecks, particularly amphorae, giving archaeologists rare insight into where goods were being transported around the Mediterranean. 
 Unfortunately, the archaeologists are hampered in understanding some of the sites as surface evidence has been removed .
The condition of the shipwrecks vary. Some are well preserved, others are in pieces after the ships crashed on the rocks. “We have wrecks that are completely virgin. We feel we were the first ones to find them, but they are in very deep waters – at a depth of 60 meters. Usually from 40 meters and below we have wrecks in good condition. Anything above 40 meters has either lost its consistency or has been badly looted in the past,” said Koutsouflakis.

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