What ill-fated ships can teach us

In 2003 we realized that the ship once carried amphorae, possibly for wine. I wonder how it entered the Pagasitic Gulf? Did the big cities of the time buy wine from somewhere else? Or did they depart from the area loaded with domestic wine, intending to take it somewhere else? Where could it have been going and from where could it have come? With what areas did the ports from which these ships originated have trade relations and through which sea trade paths did they travel? How was this particular network of product transported in this system of sea trade, with Constantinople as its center? Answers to these questions were sure to take time, but we had to start somewhere. The amphorae and other ceramic objects we found will help us decipher the story of «Shipwreck 7.» Before the 2003 research, we tried to gather as many details as possible about the amphorae we brought up from the shipwreck in 2000. We didn’t manage to locate similar amphorae in the bibliography, so we could at least hypothesize about their identity. So, in essence, the cargo of «Shipwreck 7» will not only give us information about the history and economy of the area and time, but will also provide a valuable chapter in the general history of amphorae of this period. Today, we know the amphorae held wine, since during the team’s conservation we realized they were covered in resin, a substance very close to today’s retsina, which they layered on the inside of the amphorae carrying wine to make them airtight. We also hypothesize that these Type 2 amphorae come from southern Greece, probably the Peloponnese, and the amphorae that are types 3, 4 and 5 are from the southeastern Aegean. So we could envision an initial scenario plotting the path of the ship until the time of the shipwreck. Considering that Thessaly produced a good-sized supply of grain, we could imagine that, if the ship had arrived at its destination, it would have left the Pagasitic Gulf in a few days, after leaving the amphorae of wine and loading the grain, which was destined for Thessaloniki, Constantinople and the Black Sea. This probably happened within the framework of food and beverage provisions of big cities and the military, who likely had first dibs on the goods. This whole movement would have likely required centralized administration, with the mobilization of available sources in these kinds of items in the Aegean and the use of the existing merchant network. (1) Stella Demestiha is an archaeologist.