Classical shipwreck probed near Polyaigos island

Marine archaeologists from the Greek Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities were on the move again in November, 2010, investigating reports of an ancient shipwreck near the small Cycladic island of Polyaigos just east of Milos and Kimolos islands.

This initial, weeklong campaign (November 13-19) involved preliminary survey and trial excavation of the underwater site, which lies on a slope at a depth of 25-49 meters, according to a statement last month by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Led by archaeologists Elias Spondylis, Georgios Koutsouflakis and Athanasios Stathis, the investigative team found one main concentration and four smaller scatterings of pottery that represent a Classical-era cargo of transport amphorae likely once containing wine.

At least three different types of amphorae made up the lost cargo, Koutsouflakis further disclosed to Athens Plus, which dates mainly to the first half of the 4th century BC. One of these types has been traced typologically to ancient Peparithos (present-day Skopelos), whose wine was well known in antiquity. The two other types appear related to ceramics workshops in the northern Aegean, but may also be from Peparithos. Four complete transport amphorae with funnel-shaped lower bodies ending in a distinctive knob or ?toe? and two smaller table amphorae with flat bases were recovered during the 2009 season, along with three lead bars once used as weights inside the horizontal stocks of two wooden anchors. Such wooden anchors, today recognized as a transitional type falling chronologically between earlier stone anchors and subsequent anchors made of iron, were characteristic of the Classical period.

The Polyaigos wreck, recorded by means of a high-definition photographic mosaic and individual drawings and photographs, is now to be listed as an official, protected archaeological site. Further documentation will take place this year. Already, the discovery of the Polyaigos cargo has shed further light on commercial maritime routes and the circulation of trade goods in the southwestern Cyclades some 2,400 years ago.

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