This undated handout photo provided by the Greek Culture Ministry on Monday, Oct. 15 , 2018, shows a man holding a 2nd-century A.D. terracotta lamp with the incised name of its maker, the Corinthian artisan Octavius, on the base, one of a group found on the seabed off the island of Fourni. Greece's culture ministry says a Greek-U.S. team has located traces of five more ancient shipwrecks in the eastern Aegean Sea, raising to 58 the number of wrecks located since 2015 around Fourni, a notoriously dangerous point on the ancient shipping route. (Greek Culture Ministry via AP)

Greece: Ancient wrecks, pottery found at ships' 'graveyard'

October 16, 2018 - 7:12 am

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — A Greek-U.S. team of marine archaeologists has located three more ancient shipwrecks with pottery cargoes, including 1,900-year-old branded designer lamps, and two from much later times in a rich graveyard of ships in the eastern Aegean Sea, a project official said Tuesday.

All were found last month off Fourni island and its surrounding islets that lie at the junction of two main ancient shipping routes, in notoriously treacherous waters between the larger islands of Ikaria and Samos.

The older wrecks date to the 4th and 2nd centuries B.C. and the 5th-6th centuries A.D., while the more recent ones are from the 18th or 19th century, said archaeologist George Koutsouflakis, joint leader of the project.

He said they were discovered at depths of 10-40 meters (33-130 feet). Because that is relatively shallow, the wrecks bore traces of looting by illegal antiquities hunters or of damage by fishing nets.

The five new finds, all trading ships, raise to 58 the total number of ancient, mediaeval and more recent wrecks located since 2015 around the lobster-shaped Fourni complex. Two of its 13 islets bear the ominous name Anthropofas, or Man-eater, in reference to the seamen who drowned off them.

The project started in 2015, in cooperation with the U.S.-based RPM Nautical Foundation, a non-profit organization involved in several Mediterranean underwater projects. Archaeologists received significant help from local fishermen, who provided information on wreck sites.

Apart from the cargoes of amphorae — jars that contained wine, oil and foodstuffs — found in September, divers also recovered a group of 2nd-century A.D. terracotta lamps, incised with the names of the Corinthian artisans who made them, Octavius and Lucius.

They may have been slave workers who later gained their freedom and set up their own pottery workshops, a Greek Culture Ministry statement said.

The project is planned to continue over the next five years, the ministry said.