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The author is happy to answer any questions about ancient shipwrecks and connect the public or press to experts in the field of ancient ships and underwater archaeology. Feel free to use the form below to contact me with any questions or comments.

 

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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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