Ancient Shipwrecks


The Dokos site is an Early Helladic III (avaa. 2200 BCE) cargo site located off the island of Dokos in the Argo-Saronic Gulf in Greece and is considered to be the oldest shipwreck site in the world. It was discovered at a depth of between 15 and 20 metres by Peter Throckmorton in August 1975 and surveyed by the Hellenic Institute of Marine Archaeology (HIMA) in the same year and again in 1977. HIMA then excavated the site between 1989 and 1992. Although no remains of the ship’s hull were found its cargo of amphorae and other ceramics is evidence of the shipwreck and its variety is impressive as it consists of amphorae, basins, bowls, braziers, baking trays, sauceboats. Archaeologists also found two stone anchors on the site. The finds are on display in the Museum of Spetses. For bibliography click here.


The Uluburun wreck is a Late Bronze Age (ca. 1400 BCE) shipwreck discovered at a depth of between 44 to 52 metres by sponge diver Mehmet Cakir southeast of Kas in southwestern Turkey in 1982 and excavated by Cemir Pulak of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology between 1984 and 1994. Results of the excavation showed that the vessel dated to around 1400 BCE, was built using the shell-first technique, and was about 15-metres long to about 20 tons. The ship was transporting a diverse cargo consisting of amphorae, bowls, copper ingots, lamps, pithoi, foodstuffs and luxury goods. Weapons, tools and other personal belongings of the crew were also found in the wreck. In all, 18,000 artifacts were catalogued and many are now on display at the Bodrum Museum. A number of reports and articles have been written about the Ulu Burun shipwreck (see bibliography here).

Cape Gelidonya

The Cape Gelidonya wreck is a 13th c. BCE vessel discovered at a depth of 27 metres off Cape Gelidonya in southwestern Turkey in 1954 and first excavated by George Bass and Peter Throckmorton in 1960. This was the first shipwreck excavation to be completed by a diver-archaeologist following standard archaeological methods. Most of the ship’s hull had disappeared but the little wood that remained allowed archaeologists to conclude that the vessel had been built using shell-first technique with mortise-and-tenon joints. The bulk of the cargo consisted of metals such as copper, bronze and tin from Cyprus, some of which was scrap and most likely destined for recycling. Some of the crews or passengers personal belongings including a razor, four scarabs and a scarab-shaped plaque, an oil lamp, stone mortars, a merchant’s cylinder seal and more than 60 stone pan-balance weights, all apparently of Syrian, or Canaanite, origin, were also found in the wreck. A stone anchor was also found. See biliography here.

Point Iria

The Point Iria wreck site is located at a depth of 12 to 27 metres just 15 metres off Point Iria in the Argolic Gulf in Greece. It was discovered in 1962 by the then director of HIMA, Nikos Tsouchlos, and excavated between 1991 and 1994. The results of the excavation showed that the wreck was most likely that of a small ten-metre-long vessel built using the shell-first technique and sunk sometime around 1200 BCE. At the time of its sinking it was transporting a cargo of amphorae and pithoi of diverse origin in the Eastern Mediterranean including Crete, Cyprus and mainland Greece. Archaeologists also found decorated Mycenaean vases in fine ware (a deep bowl krater and one or two deep bowls) as well as cooking pots and juglets that may have belonged to the crew. Two small stone anchors were also found. The results of the excavation were presented at an international conference organized by HIMA on the island of Spetses in September 1998, and later published (see bibliography here). The cargo of the ship is on display in the Spetses Museum.

Bajo de la Campana

This 7th c. BCE shipwreck discovered off the coast of Cartagena, Spain, is the first Phoenician shipwreck to have been excavated by underwater archaeologists. Under the direction of INA research associates, the project logged almost 4000 dives equaling over 300 hours over four field seasons. During the excavations archaeologists recovered fragments of the hull and a wide and rich variety of artefacts including objects which had likely belonged to the crew. Amongst the finds were broken pieces of amphoras, bowls, plates, and other ceramic vessels, 28 small tin ingots and two more of copper, 10 elephant tusks, hundreds of galena (lead ore) nuggets, pine cones, nodules of amber from the Baltic region of northern Europe, a number of large, round ballast stones, a tiny stone cube that may be a gaming piece, and a stone rod that appears to be a whetstone, several double-sided wooden combs; these however seem to be part of the cargo rather than grooming items used by the crew. In addition, several nuts and seeds, including an acorn, a hazelnut, and an olive pit, give some idea of the provisions carried on board. See bibliography.


The circa 600-BCE shipwreck was found off the island of Giglio in Italy in 1961 and was unfortunately looted before being excavated later in the 1980s. Archaeologists believe that this ship was Etruscan the planks of the hull were sewn together and Phoenician and Etruscan amphoras and Etruscan bucchero pottery were found in her. However Corinthian wares were also found. Archaeologist also discovered a helmet in the wreck. See biliography here.

Bon Porté

The Bon Porté shipwreck is located at a depth of 48 metres just off Saint Tropez in France. It was discovered in 1971 and after investigation by Jean-Pierre Joncheray was dated to around 530 to 525 BCE. The site covered an area of 4 m x 10 m. The excavation allowed archaeologists to determine that the small hull of the ship was sewn together and that the vessel was carrying a cargo of Etruscan and Greek amphorae. Archaeologists found a variety of other objects including a mortar, an oinochoe, lamps, a spearhead, and lead in the wreck. See bibliography here.

Pointe Lequin (1A)

The late 6th c. BCE ship sunk off Pointe Lequin on the north side of the island of Porquerelle in the south of France. The ship was carrying a cargo of wine and tablewares from the Aegean including Attic black-figure cups and oil lamps and some bronze statuettes. Ionic bowls were found stacked among the tablewares. In all, over 600 pieces of Attic pottery were recovered from the wreck. Evidence would suggest that the ship was sailing to Marseille from Greece when she sank.

Pabuc Burnu

This 20-metre-long 6th c. BCE merchantman was found at Pabuc Burnu 25 kilometres southeast of Bodrum in Turkey in 2001 and excavated by INA from 2002. The main cargo of the vessel was 240 amphorae, most of which were from Halicarnassus and nearby Rhodes. Some of the original amphorae stoppers, made of bark, were found inside the amphorae. Grape resin and food remains such as olive pits, nut shells and grape seeds were also found in amphorae. Among ceramics found in the wreck were bowls, cups, oinochoi, and mortars. Archaeologists also recovered a large (115 kg)  and a small (7.3 kg) stone anchor.


In 1988, divers found and reported an early 5th c. BCE (ca. 500-480) shipwreck at Gela off the coast of western Sicily, in 5 or 6 metres of water and about 800 metres from the coast. The vessel was about 20 metres long and had been transporting a mixed cargo when she sank, including amphorae from Attica, Corinth, Chios, Etruria, Lesbos, Massalia, and Phoenicia. A variety of other ceramic objects of diverse origin were also found in the wreck including askoi, bowls, cups, dishes, an oinochoe, three olpai, Attic black figured pottery, a Corinthian skyphos, and salt cellars, Archaeologists also found a small terracotta boar, four altars, part of a pipe, a bronze tripod, a straw basket, two loom weights, a spindle whorl, a bone stylus, a sounding lead, and a fishing hook. Parts of the planking of the hull of the vessel were intact and there was about six tons of ballast stones in several partitions. See bibliography here.

Knidos C

A 5th c. BCE wreck found at Knidos in southwestern Turkey with a cargo of amphorae from Chios. A coin, a lekythos and olive pits were also found in the wreck. See bibliography here.

Punta Bracetto

A 5th c. BCE wreck found at Punta Bracetto in Sicily with a cargo of Corinthian amphorae. An askos, a lamp, and a Corinthian helmet were also found in the wreck. See bibliography here.

Plane B

A 5th c. BCE wreck discovered at l’ïle Plane with a cargo of Greek, Punic and Massaliot amphorae as well as copper ingots. Fishing net weights were also found.


A 5th c. BCE merchantman was discovered off Porticello in the Straits of Messina, Italy by fishermen in 1969 and was excavated the following year in 1970, and later, by INA. Several studies of the wreck have been published since, notably by Mark L. Lawell and Cynthia J. Eiseman. The wreck was found in 35 metres of water and appeared to have been previously looted. The hull was constructed using shell-firsttechnique and mortise-and-tenon joints and the vessel was estimated to be about 17 metres long for a capacity of 30 tons. The cargo consisted of about 100 amphorae of Greek and Punic origin and is one of the the largest assemblages of Greeks and Punic amphoras from a shipwreck site. It also provides the earliest evidence for maritime trade in ink and the export of Athenian lead to the Mediterranean. The bearded head of a bronze statue was one of the most significant finds of the wreck. Some of these finds are displayed at the Museo Nazionale, at Reggio. See bibliography here.

Ma’agan Mikhael

This 5th c. BCE Phoenician merchant ship was discovered in August 1985 by Ami Eshel in 1.5 metres of water off the Kibbutz Ma’agan Mikhael about 30 km south of Haifa, Israel. The excavation of the wreck site was carried out by the Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies (University of Haifa) in 1988 and 1989. Because of it being covered in sand a large part of the ship’s hull was found intact which later allowed for the construction of a replica. The vessel was estimated to be 12 or 13 metres long and 4 meters in width. The timbers of the ship were preserved using PEG and its hull reconstructed displayed at the Hecht Museum of the University of Haifa. A number of studies have been published, notably by Elisher Linder and Yak Kahanov. Archaeologists found 70 ceramic items of Greek and Cypriot origin as well as local, including jugs, plates, lamps, cooking pots and storage jars. Also among the artefacts were lead ingots, carpenter tools, and manufactured goods such as olivewood box in the shape of a heart or leaf and with a swivel top and a pair of violin-shaped boxes. Archaeologist also found ropes and a unique one-armed wooden anchor. Food remains including grape, fig, olive and barley.  See bibliography here.

Tektas Burnu

During the Institute of Nautical Archaeology’s 1996 survey of the Turkish coast a wreck was located at Tektas Burnu at a depth of 35-42 metres not from far from the rocky coast. It was excavated between 1999 and 2001 by INA’s George Bass and Deborah Carlson along with a number of student volunteers. The area of the wreck site was about 12 metres by 10 metres. During the excavations, archaeologists found 200 pseudo-Samian amphorae, 60 Mendean amphorae, and two Chian amphorae, a dozen table amphorae, an askos, cups, cooking pots, kantharoi, oil lamps. Copper nails, pieces of wood, and 14 lead anchor stocks, were also recovered. The most significant find, however, was a pair of marble ophthalmoi, or ‘ship’s eyes’ indicating the direction the ship was travelling when she sank. A variety of other smaller artefacts were recovered from he site including fishing hooks and weights, bronze buckets, lamps, astragales, plates, jugs, mortars, cooking pots, and so on. See bibliography here.


What would turn out to be the largest classical shipwreck known was discovered in 30 metres of water between the islands of Alonissos and Peristera off the coast of eastern Greece by fisherman Kostas Mavrikis. Excavations were organised by The Greek Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities as of 1991.  The extent of the wreck was quite large measuring 22 metres by 8 metres and about 1000 amphoras were visible on the top of the wreck. No hull remains were found, apart from some burnt wood, but an array of artefacts allowed archaeologists to date the wreck to between 425 and 415 BCE and identify it as most likely being an Athenian merchantman. A large part of the cargo consisted of wine amphorae from Mendi and Skopelos. It is estimated that the vessel was transporting up to 4000 amphorae along with its other cargo, making it quite a large vessel of over 100 tons or more. Other artefacts included cooking pots, bowls, bronze ladle, lamps, plates, a bucket and a lead anchor stock. See bibliography here.


A late 4th c. BCE shipwreck was discovered off the island of  Antidragonera in Greece and partially excavated by Dr. Dimitris Kourkoumelis and HIMA. Archaeologists found three pithoi, a jug, plates, a fish plate, three lamps, part of a bronze bucket, and fishing tackle in the wreck. They also recovered nine stone anchors. See bibliography here.

Anse du Dattier

A 4th c. BCE wreck was located in 37 metres of water at Anse du Dattier west of Cap Cavaliere in the south of France in 1971 but had previously been looted. The wreck contained Greek and Campanian ceramics, a grindstone, oil lamps and a spearhead, and an anchor stone. See bibliography here.


A 4th c. BCE shipwreck with a cargo of ceramics including cups, bowls and plates as well as lamps was discovered at Datillo, Italy. See bibliography here.

El Sec

A middle to late 4th c. BCE Punic shipwreck found off the south coast of Majorca was carrying Punic coarse ware and bronze objects of Italo-Etruscan origin as well as Attic pottery and 474 Greek amphorae, a third of which were Samian wine amphorae, the others being from Corinth, Chios, Mendi, Thasos, and Sinope. A gold ring, a needle, a bronze statuette and lead sling bullets were among the artefact and food remains included almonds, olives, and nuts (hazelnuts and pistachio). See bibliography here.


This 4th century BCE merchantman was located about 1 nm from the village of Mazotos in southern Cyprus at a depth of around 45 meters and excavated from 2010 to 2012 by Stella Demesticha of the Archaeological Research Unit (ARU) at the University of Cyprus . The wreck site covered an area of 16 x 6 metres and about 500-800 Chian (and some Samian) amphorae were visible on the top of the site. Some of the hull planking of the ship and two lead anchor-stock cores were also found on the site. Some fine ware pottery was recovered from the stern area of the wreck and is thought to have belonged to crew or passengers (one of them bears two inscribed letters, most likely the owner’s initials). A large number of olive pits were also discovered in a number of the amphorae. See bibliography here.


The Kyrenia shipwreck is among one of the most well known wrecks of the Mediterranean. It was discovered off the town of Kyrenia on the north coast of Cyprus in 1965 by a local council man, Andreas Carlolou, while he was sponge diving at a depth of 27 to 30 metres. Two years later, Carlolou showed the wreck site to Michael and Susan Katzev who excavated it in 1968 and 1969. The wreck covered an area of 14 m x 4.2 m and contained about 400 amphorae, mostly from Rhodes. Archaeologists found an array of kitchen utensils in the wreck including cooking pots, jugs and mortars. Four wooden spoons, four oil jugs, four salt dishes and four drinking cups recovered suggest the number of the crew on the last voyage. Three hundred lead net weights recovered from the wreck suggest that the crew fished and ate fish while on board. Remains of foodstuff found, including 9000 almonds, figs, olives, raisins, lentils, herbs, and nuts, give us an idea of what the crew’s diet was like. Other artefacts such as lamps, lead sheets, a sounding lead, and a ink pot provide clues to the ships seaworthiness and life aboard. Arrow heads stuck in the hull suggest that the ship had been attacked, perhaps by pirates. The excavation allowed experts to date the wreck to between 295 or 285 BCE, to show that she was built in the “shell-first” manner, and would eventually lead to a part of the hull being preserved in the Kyrenia Shipwreck Museum and a replica being built and used for experimental voyages (video here). See bibliography here.

La Madonnina

La Madonnini is a late 4th c. BCE shipwreck discovered off the coast of Taranto in southern Italy. The vessel was carrying amphorae from Corinth and Attica when she sank. Among the artefacts recovered were lamps, two sounding leads, and fishing tackle. See bibliography here.

Marzamemi E

A 4th c. BCE shipwreck was discovered off Marzamemi near Syracuse, Italy. The main cargo was probably Corinthian amphorae and tiles. Archaeologist also found fishing net weights and a sounding lead.

Ognina D

Archaeologists investigated a 4th c. BCE shipwreck near Ognina in eastern Sicily in Italy, which had been carrying a cargo of Greek amphorae at the time of sinking. Two pithoi and two louteria were also found in the wreck.

Pointe Bacon

A 4th c. BCE wreck with a cargo of amphorae from Corinth and Massalia was found at Pointe Bacon near Antibes in France. A buchero was also found in the wreck. See bibliography here.


A 4th c. BCE shipwreck with a cargo of Corinthian amphorae found at Stentinello near Syracuse in Italy. Among the artefacts were  cooking pots (including a bronze one), bowls, and a louterion. See bibliography here.


A late 4th c. BCE shipwreck carrying Italo-Greek amphorae found near Terrasini in northern Sicily, Italy. Archaeologists also found a louterion and a sounding lead in the wreck.


While surveying in 1964 and 1965 the Institute of Archaeology of the Soviet Academy of Sciences discovered a wreck scattered over an area of 140 m x 90 m in shallow water near Donuzlav, on the Crimean Peninsula (this is in the Black Sea and not the Mediterranean Sea but the wreck is worth including). After investigation the wreck proved to be a late 4th or early 3rd c. BCE vessel carrying a cargo of Heraclean wine amphorae. Other artefacts recovered included a jug, and carpenter’s axe. Part of the ship’s planking, lead sheathing and bronze nails were also found. See bibliography here.


A 3rd c. BCE shipwreck was found at Capistello, Lipari and investigated. The wreck is thought to have been about 20 metres in length. It was transporting a cargo of Italo-Greek amphorae and Campanian ceramics. Archaeologists also recovered fishing weights, jugs, lamps, and an anchor from the wreck site. See bibliography here.

Capo Graziano

The  3rd c.BCE Capo Graziano shipwreck (island off the north of Sicily) was transporting a cargo of Corinthian amphorae and Italo-Greek amphorae when it sunk. During investigations archaeologists also found cups and other common wares, the foot of a louterion, tiles, and a lead core of an anchor stock.

Serce Limani

This 3rd c. BCE Hellenistic shipwreck was discovered by the INA at Serce Limani, 24 nm west of Marmaris in Turkey in 1973 and is among the important wrecks of its time. The wreck was excavated between 1978 and 1980. The area of the site covered 11 m x 9 m and contained a number of Greek amphorae dating to about 275 BCE. Other ceramic including a kantharos, and bowls were recovered from the site. Among the other artefacts were ink pots, two astragales, a grind stone, a lead ring, a marble ring, and part of a bilge pump hose. See bibliography here.


An early 3rd c. BCE wreck located at Vulpiglia in Sicily. The main cargo consists of amphorae from Corinth and Attica.  Archaeologists found a variety of artefacts in the wreck including cooking pots, an alabaster toilet-box, the head of a clay statue of Silenus, the iron blade of a sword, over forty bone and teeth of cow, sheep and goats and some human bones. A couple of the planks of the hull were also found. See bibliography here.

La Tour Fondue

This 3rd c. BCE wreck and its cargo of amphorae from Greece and Massalia were discovered off La Tour Fondue in the south of France. The site covered an area of 10 m x 2 m. Excavation allowed the recovery of some of the amphorae,  cooking pots, oinochoe, a coin. Some of the planks of the hull were also found  See bibliography here.

Grand Congloué

The 3rd c. BCE wreck of the Grand Congloué was found off the island of Riou, south of Marseille in France and investigated by Jacques Cousteau and Fernand Benoit between 1951 and 1957, and then by Yves Girault from 1961. The site was located on a slope at a depth of 28 m to 44 m and covered an area of about 23 m x 8 m. The cargo consisted of 3000 Italo-Greek amphorae, and amphorae from Rhodes, Chios and Knidus. A sounding lead was also recovered from the wreck.  It is thought that the vessels had a capacity of over 100 tons. However, investigators believed that the site may actually be two different wrecks, one superposed on the other. This was the first ancient wreck site that was investigated using SCUBA. See bibliography here.

Lastovo B

A 2nd c. BCE shipwreck found off Lastovo in Croatia. The site covered an area of 23 m x 17 m and the main cargo was Italo-Greek amphorae. Two jugs and a louterion were also found in the wreck. See bibliography here.


This 2nd c. BCE shipwreck was found in the entrance to the Carry-le-Rouet harbour west of Marseille in the south of France. The main cargo consisted of building materials in the form of 24 monoliths weighing close to a ton each. The stones were raised and studied in 1983 and 1984 and turned out to be from quarries at nearby Martigues. Several of the stones bear the Greek inscriptions ‘ΑΡ’ and ‘ΓΑΡ’ (also found on the ramparts of ancient Massalia) and can be seen at the Roman Docks Museum in Marseille.

Punta Scaletta

A 2nd c. BCE shipwreck found at Punta Scaletta off the coast of Tuscany in Italy with a cargo of Italo-Greek ceramics. A dagger, a coin, a lead horn, and tiles were also found in the wreck. See bibliography here.

La Chrétienne C

La Chrétienne C shipwreck was found near Saint-Raphaël in the south of France and investigated by Jean Pierre Joncheray in the early seventies. The main cargo consisted of about 500 amphorae from Rhodes and Knidus dated to between 175 and 150 BCE. Archaeologists found an array of other artefacts in the wreck. Ceramic finds included cooking pots, vases, a mortar and common wares. Two lamps and some tiles were also found. Tools and other equipment recovered from the site included carpenter tools such as a hammer, a billhook and a nail-puller.  A knife, a dagger and a spearhead were also found as well as a needle made from bone. Archaeologists also recovered fishing weights, a sounding lead, and a coin as well as remans of nuts. The vessel is thought to have been about 13 to 15 ton in capacity. See bibliography here.


The Spargi wreck is located off Sardinia in Italy. It lies in about 15 metres of water and is about 30 metres long. This wreck suffered from looting over the decades. It was first investigated by Nino Lamboglia in 1958 and 1959 and dated to the late 2nd c. BCE. The main cargo was found to be wine amphorae, pottery and furniture. Later in the 1970s, 400 amphoras were recovered. Among the other finds were two ladles, a bronze lamp, a louterion, a statuette and parts of an altar. Archaeologists also found a knife, a spearhead, a cuirass, and a bronze helmet with a skull still inside, which could indicate that the vessel was attacked and scuttled. The finds recovered during the excavation are now exhibited at Museo Nino Lamboglia, La Maddalena, in Sardinia. See bibliography here.


This late second century or early 1st c. BCE shipwreck was found by sponge divers in 1907 off Madhia on the east the coast of Tunisia. It lay at a depth of 39 metres and was about 40 metres long. The wreck was first investigated from 1908 and 1913, then again from 1948 to 1954 by Jacques Cousteau, and again more recently. The main cargo of the vessel consisted of 70 marble pillars and a number of impressive works of art including marble and bronze sculptures. Some of the objects recovered are displayed at the Musée le Bardo in Tunis. See bibliography here.

Fourmigue C

The 1st c. BCE Fourmigue C wreck was located in the Gulf of Juan between Cannes and Antibes (in the south of France) at a depth of 58 metres and a distance of 200 metres from a dangerous surface reef known as Fourmigue. The wreck was known to local divers and had been looted shortly before being declared to the authorities in 1980. In 1981, DRASSM lead an expedition to investigate the wreck and due to the depth were assisted by navy divers. Dressel 1 amphorae, Campanian ceramics, and Greek bronze objects were recovered. Kitchen ware included plates cups and a grindstone. Among the tools and equipment found were two touchstones, fishing line weights, fishing net weights, a bucket, and discs from a bilge pump. Food remains included beef and pork bones. See bibliography here.


The wreck of this 40-m-long merchantman dating to about 100-90 BCE was found off Albenga in northwest Italy at a depth of 42 metres and was first investigated in 1950. This site appeared as a two-metre high mound and covered an area of 10 m x 30 m. The cargo consisted mostly of wine amphorae, many of which are Dressel 1, but also Lamboglia 2 type. About 1200 amphorae were raised and it is estimated that the vessel may have been carrying or have been capable of carrying up to 10,000 amphorae or about 400 tons. A variety of pottery including black-gloss ware, Campanian A plates and ‘imitation Campanian’ bowls were found stacked between the amphorae. Other ceramic finds included cooking ware and jugs, black-gloss plates and jugs, grey ware. Archaeologists also found seven bronze helmets of different types. See bibliography here.


Undoubtedly the most famous ancient shipwreck in the world thanks to the Antikythera Mechanism, this 1st c. BCE wreck was found by chance in 1900 by Greek sponge divers from the island of Symi who were waiting out a storm on the east coast of the island of Antikythera south of Cythera island and half way between the southern coast of Peloponnese and Crete. While there, the divers decided to dive and came across artefacts including a bronze arm at depths of between 42 and 50 metres. In November the same year, the boat captain Dimitrios Kontos notified the authorities in Athens who launched a recovery operation with the help of the Hellenic Royal Navy.  On the first day of the expedition, a bronze head and two 5th century statuettes were brought to the surface. More were to come including the famous 1.94-metre-high bronze statue dated to the 4th century BCE and now known as The Youth Of Antikythera (on display at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens). The main cargo was found to be amphorae from Rhodes and Kos and a number of other ceramics including cups, bowls, and jugs were found. Oil lamps and an alabaster flask used for carrying perfumed oil were among the smaller finds. Divers also recovered a large lump of encrusted material which would later turn out to be the famous Antikythera Mechanism. Remains of the hull planking were  recovered and would be carbon dated to about 220 BCE much later in 1964. A new expedition was authorized in 2012 and some artefacts were recovered from the site including a large bronze spear believed to have been attached to a warrior statue. A new expedition named ‘Return to Antikythera’ begun in 2014 with the use of a new robotic dive suit and work has been continuing since … See bibliography here.


The early 1st c. BCE Kizilburun shipwreck was discovered southwest of Izmir during an INA survey of the Turkish coast  in 1993 and excavated by Deborah Carlson from 2005 onwards. The cargo of the wreck was 50 tons of white marble in the form of eight massive drums, the capital of a single Doric column, large rectangular stone blocks, and other marble objects including uninscribed grave stones, pedestals for two larger basins, and roughly-finished marble objects such as a small hand basin or louteria. Other finds included late an Egyptian type amphorae, Campanian amphorae, Hellenistic ceramics such as bowls, cooking pots and lamps. Archaeologists also found parts of the hull planking and pieces of the ship’s gear including two lead anchor collars, a lead sounding weight, and 230-pound lead anchor stock on the site. A worn bronze coin, and a terracotta herm figurine were also found in the wreck. This video about the wreck is available on YouTube. See bibliography here.


Discovered at the depth of 43 metres in the entrance to the Baie de la Cavalière in the Var in the south of France in 1972 the Cavalière wreck was excavated between 1974 and 1977 by DRASM. Only about thirty amphorae were found in the wreck; seven Dressel 1A, eight 1C, ten Lamboglia 2, four Punic and two from Cos.  However, a large number of pork bones were found which indicates the transport of either livestock or meat. A number of decorated and non-decorated Campanian ceramics were also found along with cooking pots and oil lamps and bronze coins, which dated the wreck to the 1st c. BCE. See bibliography here.


The 1st c: BCE Titan shipwreck was found off Levant Island (ïle du Levant) in the south of France at a depth of 27 to 29 m by Dr Piroux and excavated from 1954 by Philippe Taillez with the assistance of the French Navy.  The site covered an area of 20 m x 4 m. During the excavation, a complete vertical photographic coverage of the site was undertaken for the first time and the recovered objects were catalogued according to their coordinates. The main cargo consisted of Dressel 10 and Dressel 12 amphorae that had contained dry tuna fish. One of the amphorae had contained almonds. An array of other objects were found, including common wares, grain mills, oil lamps, copper containers, tiles and a the lead core of an anchor stock. A 1st c. BCE coin was also recovered from the wreck (perhaps the votive from the mast step). Parts of the hull recovered allowed archaeologist to determine that it was a double-sided hull assembled with a traditional system of mortise and tenon.

Madrague de Giens

This 1st c. BCE Roman shipwreck was found in the Madrague de Giens bay east of Toulon in the south of France. and excavated between 1972 and 1982 by the Archaeological Institute (run jointly in Aix-en-Provence (France) by the University of Provence and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (National Centre for Scientific Research or CNRS). The main cargo consisted of several hundred (at least 6000) Dressel 1B amphorae and a large amount of pottery, including 1635 fine and common wares from Campania, was also found in the wreck. Many of the amphorae bore the stamp Publius Veveius Papus, an estate owner from the Terracina region in souther Italy. Pine branches placed between the amphorae had served as dunnage. Large parts of the ship’s hull was found in good state of preservation and allowed archaeologists to analyse the ship’s construction and estimate its tonnage (to be about 400 tons). Both shell-first and frame-first techniques were used to construct the hull. See bibliography here.

Saint Jordi I

A roman shipwreck discovered in the Bay of Punta de Campos in Mallorca and excavated in 1977 and 1978. The shipwreck is dated to between 100 and 90 BCE and the cargo consists of three main types of wine amphora; Dressel 1A, 1C and Lamboglia 2. Fine ceramics and common wares were also part of the cargo. A small number of amphorae from Coa and Knidus were also found in the wreck. and may have belonged to the crew. See bibliography here.

Culip IV

The Cala Culip IV shipwreck is the remains of a small merchant ship of about 9 m – 10 m in length discovered in 1984 by Xavier Granollerasat at a depth of about 7 m off Cadaqués, Alt Empordà, Catalonia, in Spain. The wreck was excavated from 1984 to 1988 by AJ Nieto and his team. Finds included 79 Dressel 20 type amphorae as well as 7 other amphorae (two Pélichet 46, a Haltern 70, a Gauloise 4, a Dressel 2/4 from Africa* and a Gauloise 1). Forty-two lamps and thousands of decorated and non-decrated vases were also found. The wreck was dated to between 69 and 89 CE. See bibliography here.

Port-Vendres II

This 1st c. CE shipwreck was discovered near Port-Vendres in the south of France, not far from the Spanish border. The vessel was transporting a mixed cargo of wine, oil, salted fish, as well as lead and bars of tin. Some of the bars were marked with inscriptions dated to 48, 42 and 41 CE. Some of the other artefacts included common wares, metallic crockery, oil lamps, ink pots, toilet implements and tools, some of which may have belonged to the crew.

Cabrera III

The Cabrera III shipwreck was a Roman merchantman dated to the middle of the third century CE and was found at a depth of 22 metres off the south coast of Mallorca Island in the 1980s and was investigated by Victor Guerrero & Dali Colls. The cargo consisted of six main types of amphorae; Dressel 20, Dressel 23, Almagro 50, Almagro 51c, Beltrán 68 and 72. Inside one a Dressel 23, 967 coins were found including a sesterce of Emperor Valerian which dated the ship to 257 CE. Archaeolgists were also able to identify a galley area at the stern of the ship containing bricks, tiles, pipes, and common wares.  See bibliography here.

Yassi Ada

In 1967, 1968, 1969 and again in 1974, the INA conducted excavations of another now well-known 4th c. CE Roman shipwreck at Yassi Ada island between the Turkish coast and the Greek island of Pserimos. The wreck is located at a depth of between 36 and 42 metres at a distance of 100 metres from the southern side of the island near a dangerous reef. The site was 19 metres long and consisted of around 1100 amphorae, bowls, cooking pots, plates, pitchers, lamps, and storage vessels. A cup was also found. Remains of the cypress hull showed that the vessel was built using the shell-first technique with mortise-and-tenon joints but the joints were place further apart than older wrecks and half frames were used midship. See bibliography here.



See bibliography here.See bibliography here.See bibliography here.See bibliography here.

Ancient History Timeline (approx.)

3300 BCE Early Bronze Age

2000 BCE Middle Bronze Age

1600 BCE Late Bronze Age

1200 BCE Iron Age

800 BCE Archaic Greece

550 BCE Classical Greece

509 BCE Roman Republic

323 BCE Hellenistic Period

27 BCE Roman Empire

284 CE Late Antiquity

476 CE Fall of the Roma Empire

5th C. CE Early Middle Ages begins

4th c. BCE Mazotos shipwreck. ARU, Photo University of Cyprus

4th c. BCE Mazotos shipwreck. ARU, Photo University of Cyprus

Diving on shipwrecks in ancient times

Diving on shipwrecks goes back further than you might expect. Herodotus tells us that around 500 BCE, the Greek sculptor Scyllias and his daughter Cyana were employed as salvage divers for the Persian king Xerxes. In ancient Roman times urinatores dived on shipwrecks to attempt to salvage goods. Salvaging wrecks became very organised in Roman times and fees were regulated. In shallow water where the urinatores could stand, the share was only one-tenth the value of the goods. From 3.6 to 7.6 metres, the share was one-third and in depths of over 7.6 metres the salvor’s share was one-half of all goods recovered. (The name urinatores may come from the fact that the divers urinated a lot due to pressure under water).

Modern Greek stamp showing Alexander the Great diving

Modern Greek stamp showing Alexander the Great diving

close-up of restored hull of Ma'agan Mikhael classical shipwreck, Hecht Museum

close-up of restored hull of Ma'agan Mikhael classical shipwreck, Hecht Museum

Reconstruction of the 4th c. BCE Kyrenia ship, Thalassa Museum, Ayia Napa, Cyprus

Reconstruction of the 4th c. BCE Kyrenia ship, Thalassa Museum, Ayia Napa, Cyprus

Joni Wreck, Albania photo: RPMN/ACMR

Joni Wreck, Albania photo: RPMN/ACMR

SCUBA (or Aqua-Lung)

Did you know that SCUBA (self contained underwater breathing system) was first used on a shipwreck site by Jacques Cousteau and Fernand Benoit when they investigated the 3rd c. BCE shipwreck at Grand Congloué between1951 and 1957.

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