Greek archaeologist describes finds
(Mar. 1, 1994)
The photo of an oblong underwater mound of clay jars and stones look like a trash dump, but a Greek archaeologist who is visiting East Carolina University sees the debris pile as treasure from classical Greece.
Dr. Elpida Hadjidaki of Athens, Greece, the curator of antiquities for the Ministry of Culture, said the mound is the remains of a merchant ship. The ship sailed the Mediterranean 400 years before Christ—during the time of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.
Adding to the ship’s importance is another fact too. The vessel is almost twice as big as any other ship found from this period.
The ship was 85 feet in length and 35 feet wide, Hadjidaki told the graduate students in the ECU program in Maritime History and Nautical Archaeology. Other ships studied from this period have measured only about 50 feet.
The ship sank in the Aegean Sea near the island of Alonisos in about 90 feet of water. Some artifacts brought to the surface have enabled experts to date the wreck between 409 and 380 B.C.
She said the ship carried a cargo of wine. In the first excavation at the site last summer, divers counted about 1,000 clay jars or amphoras on top of the debris heap.
She said most of the amphoras in the wreck were intact although their clay stoppers were gone. Many of the jars were from the Macedonian port of Mende while others are from the island Skopelos or Peparethos. The ship’s destination is not known.
Beneath the layers of Amphoras, the archaeologists uncovered an assortment of other artifacts by digging an exploratory trench. They retrieved glazed ceramic cups and bowls, a wine jar known as a kyathion, a cooking pot and a bronze bucket and ladle.
Hadjidaki said the finely made ceramic vessels may have originated in Macedonia. She said the bronze pieces resemble artifacts from the tomb of Philip II, the fourth-century king of Macedonia and father of Alexander the Great.
Hadjidaki plans to continue work at the site this summer.
She came to ECU from Austin, Texas to give presentations on her work and to meet with faculty and students in the Maritime History and Nautical Archaeology Program. Hadjidaki’s husband is a physics professor at the University of Texas. One of her friends and colleagues from Greece, Eleftheria Mantzouka, is an ECU graduate student in maritime history.
The ECU program is one of only a few like it in the country.