Underwater surveys at the site of the ancient sea battle of Salamis
During November-December 2016, an exploratory underwater survey was conducted in the framework of a 3-year-project, in the area of Ambelaki-Kynosoura of the eastern coast of Salamina where the Greek naval forces had gathered before the historic sea battle of Salamis against Persians in 480 BC.
|Salamis. Circular tower (7m diameter), belonging to the fortification of the Classical period harbour, |
in the Ambelaki Bay [Credit: V. Mentogiannis]
This is the first systematic underwater survey conducted by Greek institutions (with a 20-member scientific team) in a burdened marine environment, at a site of major historical importance.
|Long wall (arm), of 160m length, at the NW part of the Ambelaki Bay [Credit: V. Mentogiannis]|
This place is in immediate vicinity of the most important victory monuments: the polyandreion (tumulus) of the Greek warriors who fought in the Battle of Salamis, and the Tropaion on Kynosoura. We find references to the ancient harbour of Salamis in the writings of the geographer Scylax (4th c. BC), of the geographer Strabo (1st c. BC-1st c. AD) and the traveler Pausanias (2nd c. AD).
|Disposition of the Greek and Persian fleets [Credit: WikiCommons]|
Among the ancient remains identified on the shore and in shallow waters are harbour structures, fortification constructions and various building facilities. After the aerial photography, the photogrammetric recording and topographic and architectural documentation of all visible elements, the first underwater map of the area was created. The map will function as a basis for the continuation of the surveys during the next years.
|Salamis. Part of the foundation of a strong building (?) structure of Classical times, next to a pier built later |
with ancient building material, at the north side of the Ambelaki Bay [Credit: Chr. Marabea]
Also interesting is the sea (partly marshy) area at the northwestern side of the Bay, which seems to be a protected area. It is defined, on the south, by a long wall (arm) of impressive length (about 160 m), at the end of which there is a circular defensive tower of 7m diameter (its type is known from other fortified harbours), and on the east by a pier (of 48m length), which was constructed later with the use of ancient building material, possibly upon ancient structures.
|Salamis, view of the Ambelaki Bay from SE [Credit: Chr. Marabea]|
Among the remains located on the south side of the Bay, breakwaters, a pier of 40m length and a long wall (of about 30m) running parallel to the shore, with an adjacent tower-like structure, measuring 6x6m are standing out.
Finally, this preliminary survey comprised the retrieval of surface characteristic finds on the north and west side of the Bay. The survey rendered an abundance of transport (pointed) amphorae fragments and other pottery of various periods, a Bronze Corinthian coin of the 4th c. BC and other small objects. The biggest part of the surface pottery dates to the Classical and Hellenistic period and is definitely linked to the operation of the main harbor facilities of Salamina during the most thriving periods of Athenian history.
Source: Archaiologia Online [March 17, 2017]