THE TRANSPORT OF AMPHORAS FROM A FIFTH CENTURY SHIPWRECK FOUND OFF THE ISLAND OF ALONNES0S, NORTHERN SPORADES, GREECE
Under the direction of Dr. Timothy Runyan, Department of History, April 2004.
This thesis is the study of the Mendaian and Solokha II transport amphoras recovered from a shipwreck dated to the end of 5th century B.C. The wreck site, lying 30 meters underwater, was discovered southwest off the islet of Peristera and due east of the modern island of Alonnesos. Both islands belong to the group known as the Northern Sporades, which are strategically located off the northeastern seaboard of Greece filtering the north-south maritime traffic during ancient times.
Personnel from the Department of Marine Antiquities, an official agent of the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sciences, excavated the shipwreck during the summers of 1992 and 1993. Dr. Elpida Hadjidaki, then Director of the Department, is the primary investigator of the excavation, under whose direction the site was mapped, measured, photographed and excavated according to current archaeological standards. Besides the amphoras, a number of tableware, bowls, oil lamps and other utilitarian artifacts were also recovered from the site. They were properly conserved and are currently in the care of the Department of Athens.
The author worked for the Department as a trainee underwater archaeologist during the 1993 summer excavation season, and subsequently was granted permission to study the amphoras. The present research focuses on 142 transport amphoras recovered from the Alonnesas shipwreck site, which were recorded and studied according to standard archaeological methods and procedures. An attempt was made to determine -- by combining the present archaeological data with earlier historical sources and other artifactual evidence from terrestrial and underwater excavations -- the provenance, chronology, typology, possible content(s), capacity, and place(s) of distribution of these amphoras. The data collected are also used to calculate the approximate capacity of the 'Alonnesos' merchant ship, estimated to have been loaded with more than 3,000 amphoras. Finally, the author highlights the role of the amphora cargo in maritime trade during the late 5th century, focusing mainly on the wine-producing region of Mende in the Chalkidian peninsula, and the Northern Sporades, which were the cross-roads of trade along the eastern coast of Greece and the final resting place of this 2,500-year-old ship.