16th-century Zakynthos shipwreck – see the haul (photos)

Archaeologists stayed on Zakynthos for almost a month and were pleased to find that the hull was well-preserved giving people a better understanding of shipping of the 15th-16th century

The systematic underwater excavation of a 16th-century Spanish shipwreck off the coast of Zakynthos in the Ionian sea was completed earlier in October. The study of the wreck was conducted by the General Directorate of Antiquities & Cultural Heritage under the supervision of archeologist Katerina Dellaporta, head of the 2nd Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities.


The Ministry of Culture announced on monday that this year’s excavation showed that the ships’s hull is still preserved to a considerable degree, which is rare considering the Mediterranean ecosystem. Noteworthy is the fact that part of its hull, salvaged from the sea, was covered by a geotextile to protect it from further corrosion within a framework of an innovative method created by the Athens Technical Educational Institutes (TEI).


The hull’s preservation allows archaeologist to study the shipbuilding techniques of the 15th and the 16th century.


The shipwreck that dates back to the 16th century, during the reign of King Philip II of Spain, occured shortly after the Nafpaktos Naval Battle according to the silver coins and the engraved handle of a weapon with a cross that have been recovered. It is the only shipwreck of the period of the Spanish domination of the seas under Philip II that has been discovered in Greek territorial waters.


Findings from the wreck include shipbuilding structural elements and ship equipment used by seamen in their daily lives, while the large quantity of hazelnuts found scattered at the bottom of the sea as part of the ship’s cargo is preserved in an excellent condition.


A three dimensional prototype profiling method for a 3D reflection of the sea bottom has been applied on the shipwreck on a trial basis.


The underwater excavation took place from mid-September to October 6. It was financed by the Piraeus Pot Authority and had the technical support of the Zakynthos Coastguard and the contribution of City of Piraeus and Piraeus Museum personnel.



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