We are in the last quarter of the 5th century BC, a turbulent period in which Classical Civilization is undergoing great changes.
The Athens of Pericles, after 27 years of war with Sparta, is finally defeated, but despite all its defeat, it still leads the classical world, not only in the arts but also in the economy. Athens was the dominant maritime power in the Mediterranean, and its trade extended as far as Russia and the Black Sea, where it exported some of the finest pottery for everyday use.
Evidence of this commercial superpower was recently discovered at the bottom of the small island of Peristera in Alonissos, with the discovery of a classic merchant ship, much larger than any found to date. The ship lay majestically at a depth of 30 meters and its cargo seemed undisturbed as if someone had carefully placed it on the seabed. Time and sea currents have only slightly affected it. Instead they covered it with sand and kept its secret for about 2,500 years The ship sank between 425 and 415 BC and was carrying a cargo of wine from the wine-producing regions of Northern Greece, such as Mendi in Halkidiki and the Sporades Islands, Skopelos and Alonissos.
From the archaeological research, the findings that emerged were multiple and unique!.. The sunken ship was about 30 m long.. 10 m wide and 1,000 commercial wine amphorae were measured on the surface. After the removal of the surface layer of the amphorae, a second and third layer followed. In the last layer, a large amount of ink-painted pottery was found and excavated, such as goblets with incised and incised decorations, table plates, wine vessels, lamps, copper vessels and many other fragments of everyday vessels. These are banquet ware and are preserved in excellent condition, almost as they were 2,500 years ago. Their superb technique and glossy black color revealed their Athenian identity.
With this finding, the previous opinions about ancient shipbuilding are revised. The particularity of this particular wreck lies in its size, which is almost twice that of the barges known to date. The ships of the same period that have been excavated in Italy, Cyprus and Israel do not exceed 15-16.5m. and did not carry a load of more than 75 tons. This led ship scholars to conclude that large barges were unknown to the ancient Greeks and were only built by the Romans 300 years later.
This ship carried over 4,000 amphorae and had a displacement of over 120 tons.
The ship of Peristera revealed that here we have a different method of shipbuilding, unknown until now, which the Athenians already knew from classical times and which was adopted much later by the Romans.
Editor: Fotini Anastasopoulou