Almost 60 shipwrecks dating from ancient Greece to the 20th century have been found in the Aegean sea.
Thought to be the biggest discovery of its kind in the Mediterranean, divers stumbled upon the find while conducting an underwater survey by the small island archipelago of Fournoi.
The remains of the 58 ships are laden with treasures and antiquities, most spanning the Greek, Roman, and Byzantine eras.
“The excitement is difficult to describe, I mean, it was just incredible. We knew that we had stumbled upon something that was going to change the history books,” said underwater archaeologist and co-director of the Fournoi survey project, Dr Peter Campbell.
“I would call it, probably, one of the top archaeological discoveries of the century,” he added.
Over 300 objects, most of them amphorae (plural of amphora) – ancient Greek or Roman jugs – have been recovered from the shipwrecks.
It is thought the find will give historians a rare insight into ancient trade routes and commerce in the region.
“The amphora is a vessel used mainly for transporting liquids and semi-liquids in antiquity, so the goods it would be transporting were mostly wine, oil, fish sauces, perhaps honey,” said Fournoi survey project co-director Dr George Koutsouflakis.
He added that bad weather was the most likely reason that so many ships sank in the same area.
“There are narrow passages between the islands, a lot of gulfs, and descending winds from the mountains, sudden windstorms are created,” he said. “If there is a sudden change in the wind’s direction, and if the captain was from another area and was not familiar with the peculiarities of the local climate, he could easily end up losing control of the ship and falling upon the rocks.”