In September 2023, the eighth season of underwater archaeological research in the Fourni archipelago, conducted by the University of Thessaly and the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities of the Greek Ministry of Culture, was completed. The research focused on the excavation of an early Byzantine period (5th-6th century AD) shipwreck located at the Aspros Kavos cape, in one of the most inaccessible areas of Fourni, on a steep, sandy seabed at a depth of 43-49 meters.

This shipwreck has been systematically excavated since 2021 and has been selected for intensive investigation due to the exceptionally heterogeneous cargo it carries.

To date, eight different types of amphorae have been recorded, originating from the Crimea, Sinope and Heraclea Pontica in the Black Sea, as well as from the Aegean, along with a complementary cargo of table ceramics from the Phocaea region in Asia Minor.

The 2023 campaign focused on the perimeter cleaning of the western, shallower side of the shipwreck, in order to address the issue of landslides at the site due to the steep slope of the seabed.

During the research, which had to face multiple difficulties due to adverse weather conditions, in the first fortnight of September, 170 group dives were carried out and approximately 15 cubic meters of fill were removed, revealing a wide dispersal of the cargo on the shallow side of the shipwreck, mainly from sets of plates.

The recovered tableware proved to be particularly informative for a more precise dating of the shipwreck, which can now be dated with certainty between 480 and 520 AD, most likely during the reign of Emperor Anastasius I (491-518 AD), known mainly for his fiscal and monetary reforms that strengthened state revenues and enabled the expansionist policy of the 6th century emperors.

Parallel to the excavation of this shipwreck, finds have been recovered from three other shipwrecks in the Fourni archipelago, destined for future exhibition in the under-construction Fourni Archaeological Museum. These finds include a giant archaic anchor stock and amphorae from 6th century BC and 7th-8th century AD shipwrecks.

Another equally important aspect of the research was the training of nine undergraduate and graduate students from the University of Thessaly in the methods and practices of underwater archaeology, gaining significant experience for their subsequent professional development.

The overall direction of the research was led by the assistant professor of underwater archaeology at the University of Thessaly, Giorgos Koutsouflakis, and the archaeologist of the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities, Dionysios Evangelistis. The research was supported by a team of 30 divers from different specialties (archaeologists, architects, antiquities conservators, professional divers, photographers, students).


Sources

Greek Ministry of Culture


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