Archeologists Keen on Finding Ancient Greek Shipwrecks

Greek-shipwrecksFinding modern ships lost at sea can be a difficult task, even with the help of radars, sonar and satellites. Trying though, to find a ship that sank thousands of years ago, is an even harder task.

Today, archaeologists are still searching for lost ships, especially in Greek seas, since finding one of those wrecks can provide the explorers with endless information on how ancient people built their ships, where they traveled and with which civilizations they had business relations.

Some of the most popular shipwrecks are those lying hidden in the depths of the seas surrounding Greece and create a focus point for many maritime archeologists. “Finding a ship like that would definitely shed light on the ancient economies,” James Delgado, Director of Marine Heritage at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), says.

Some of the most popular Greek shipwrecks include the ones dating to the times of the Minoan civilization (7000-1100 BC). “A ship belonging to the Minoan civilization would be an amazing finding,” explains an archaeologist, and adds, “Little is known about the shipping of the time. We know, however, that Minoans were the great explorers of the Bronze Age and their traces have been scattered around the Mediterranean through paintings and frescoes.”

Other shipwrecks that fire up the imagination of archeologists all around the world are the ancient Greek triremes. These ancient warships are best known for their role in the Battle of Salamis, where the Greeks repelled the invading Persian forces led by Xerxes in 480 BC. Although archaeologists have over the years gathered many drawings, written descriptions and samples recovered from ancient shipyards, until today an actual trireme has yet to be found.

It seems, however, that finding ancient shipwrecks is almost impossible, as most of the ancient ships were made of wood, which becomes a great food source for the so-called “marine worms,” that have slowly eaten away the ancient ships.


  1. Wood does not hold up well in the Mediterranean as it is quickly attacked by wood borers and aerobic decay. All that is generally found are earthenware like amphora, precious and nonferrous metals and a suggestion of the vessel’s construction. A far better location to find the wrecks of ancient times is the Black Sea that is primarily fresh water with a deep anaerobic oxygen free layer preventing decay. A ship from the Minoan civilization would indeed be a great discovery however the chance of finding one is best on land entombed in a grave or buried deep in oxygen free clay.