Fourni‘s popularity has risen lately, thanks to the many shipwrecks discovered underwater in recent years. Fourni is now considered the capital of maritime research, watched closely by the global scientific community.
Over the weekend of 17-18th September, we met with the Maritime Antiquities Tax Office, and Marianna Markaki met archaeologist Dr. Yiorgos Koutsouflakis, General Director of Research, as well as PE Archaeologist Dionisis Evaggelistis.
The sixth research mission of the maritime archaeological research concerns the study and documentation of a shipwreck that dates back to the early Byzantine period in the sea of Fourni. The shipwreck in question is located near Cape Figou, north of the Kamari settlement (east of Fourni) at a depth of 43-58 meters, in a steep and inaccessible area, where strong winds blow almost all year round. The research was supported by a staff of 25 divers from different specialties (archaeologists, architects, antiquities conservators, professional divers, photographers, filmmakers, undergraduate and postgraduate students). As part of the research, a total of 292 individual dives were carried out, which corresponds to approximately 220 hours of work on the seabed.
Dr. Koutsouflakis, native of Ikaria, said the research began on 2015, when the first 21 shipwrecks were discovered, and Manos Mytikas, Vice President of the “Korseai” Foundation, on his own initiative informed the authorities about the existence of the shipwrecks at bottom of the sea of Fourni, and with great effort directed the scientific interest to our waters.
In 2016, the team returned much stronger, and in 2021 the new data from the researches, now listing 58 shipwrecks in the Fourni archipelago, were presented. Of all the newfound shipwrecks, they chose the one that attracted the most scientific interest, both because of their integrity, and because of the cargo carried by the wrecked ship which, according to the research, carried six different types of amphora, which come from the Crimea region (today’s Ukraine) and Herakleia of the Pontus on the Black Sea. The unearthed table pottery was particularly enlightening, in terms of the more precise chronological inclusion of this wreck, which can now be safely dated between 480 and 520 AD, probably during the reign of Emperor Anastasios I (491-518 AD), of the Leon Dynasty, known from historiographical sources mainly for his fiscal and monetary reforms, which strengthened the state coffers and allowed the expansionist policy of the emperors of the 6th century.
Earlier research had focused on the perimeter cleaning of part of the wreck and a test cut, in order to develop the stratigraphy of the shipwreck. 15 buried amphorae were uncovered in that research, including a type of amphora attributed to the city of Sinope on the Black Sea, a number of tableware and wood fragments attributed to the ship skeleton, which probably survived in the sand bed under the wreck’s load.
In parallel with the test sections on the wreck, actions were taken to document other shipwrecks in Fourni, within the framework of the European Cross-Border Cooperation Program “Interreg VA Greece – Cyprus 2014-2020” – “Diving Itineraries in Marine Protected Areas of the Eastern Mediterranean – Development of a Diving Tourism Network (De. Di. Tou. N.) (Αν. Δι. Κα. Τ.)
The collected research data is considered extremely important for organizing the systematic excavation of the wreck in the near future.
The benefits for the local community are equally great, with the further strengthening of tourism, the creation of a school for the training of scuba divers – archaeologists who will participate in the research and practise on the wrecks, and the creation of a coastal land museum, in which the findings of the wrecks will be placed.
The research was financially and logistically supported by the Municipality of Fourni Korseon, the European Program “Interreg Greece – Cyprus 2014-2020 De.Di.Tou.N. (Αν. Δι. Κα. Τ.), the “Korseai” Foundation, the Explorers Club Foundation, and the companies “Hellenic Seaways”, “Blue Star Ferries”, “Seiko Japan” and “Scubapro USA”. The researches were supported by the Mayor of Fourni Korseon, mr Dimitrios Karidis, the staff of the Fourni Port Station, and Alexandros Schwarzenberg, all of which we’d like to thank.
We’d also like to thank Dr. Koutsouflakis, mr Evaggelistis and Vice President of “Korseai” Foundation Manos Mitikas, for the honor of speaking to the Ikarian Radio.