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Treasure Trove of Discoveries Unearthed from Ancient Shipwrecks near Greek Island of Evitha

The Ministry of Culture and Sports has reported significant discoveries from the first period of underwater archaeological research conducted by the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities off the coast of Levitha Island. The research, which took place from June 15 to 29, 2019, was led by archaeologist Dr. Georgios Koutsouflakis.

One of the most noteworthy findings from the 2019 survey is a collection of amphorae originating from various cities, including Knidos, Kos, Rhodes, Phoenicia, and Carthage. These vases were dated to the period just before the mid-3rd century BC, a time when the Ptolemies and Antigonids held significant control over maritime affairs in the Aegean region.

The Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities is currently investigating a total of five shipwrecks discovered near Levitha Island. In addition to these wrecks, there were several others of archaeological interest. One of them carried a cargo of Knidos amphorae, dating back to the same period as the aforementioned findings. Three other shipwrecks contained cargoes of Kos amphorae, which were from the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, as well as the 2nd century AD.

Another shipwreck was found to have been carrying amphorae from the North Aegean, dating back to the 1st century BC, while another wreck contained a cargo of Rhodes amphorae from the 1st century AD. The final shipwreck studied by the Ephorate featured amphorae dating back to the early Christian period.

Among the significant discoveries, a granite anchor pole stands out. It was retrieved from a depth of 45 meters, weighing 400 kg (882 pounds). The anchor is believed to date back to the 6th century BC and is the largest stone pillar from the Archaic period ever found in the Aegean. Its size indicates that it belonged to a colossal ship for its time.

Dr. Koutsouflakis’ research in the summer of 2019 is part of a three-year project that commenced in 2019 and will conclude in 2021. The project aims to identify and document ancient shipwrecks in the coastal zone of this archipelago, which played a significant role in ancient navigation in the Aegean region.

Levitha, known as “Lebinthus” or “Lebinthos” in Ancient Greek, is the easternmost island among a cluster of four isolated islands, including Mavria, Glaros, and Kinaros. These islands serve as a bridge between the Cyclades and the Dodecanese island chains, located along the 37th parallel between Leros and Amorgos.

As part of the 2019 Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities study, intact ancient amphorae were successfully brought to the surface, representing a remarkable achievement in the field of underwater archaeology.