10 Shipwrecks Spanning 5,000 Years Of History Discovered Off The Coast Of Greece

Published March 18, 2024
Updated March 20, 2024

The shipwrecks found off the coast of Kasos range from a ship that sank in 3000 B.C.E. to one that went down during World War II.

Kasos Strait Shipwrecks

GMinistry of Culture, photo by N. KoukoulasThis stone anchor from the Greek Archaic period (8th century B.C.E. through the 5th century B.C.E.) was just one of the many incredible finds.

Using a copy of the Iliad as a guide, an underwater archaeological team in Greece made an astounding discovery: a shipwreck graveyard off the coast of Kasos in the Aegean Sea that contains 10 vessels.

The shipwrecks found in Kasos Strait range from boats that sank thousands of years ago to ships that went down in modern times.

Discovering 5,000 Years Of Shipwrecks In The Kasos Strait

According to a statement from the Greek Ministry of Culture, a research team from the Hellenic National Research Foundation, in tandem with the Ministry of Culture, began their survey of Kasos Strait in 2019. They used a number of historical sources to inform their search, including the Iliad, an epic poem by Homer.

“The Catalogue of Ships from Homer’s ‘Iliad’ served as a crucial starting point for our exploration into Kasos’ maritime past,” Xanthie Argiris, the director of the Kasos Maritime Archaeological Project told All That’s Interesting in an email. “Despite its small size and isolation, Kasos’s mention in the epic, specifically in the lists detailing the Achaean army’s forces during the Trojan War, intrigued us. The fact that Kasos contributed ships to this legendary expedition underscored its historical importance and maritime prowess.”

Following Homer’s trail, the research team mapped the Kasos-Karpathos reef for the first time — and discovered a shipwreck graveyard. It contains 10 vessels that sank between 3000 B.C.E. and World War II.

Greek Shipwrecks Research Team

Ministry of Culture, photo by N. KoukoulasBy using historical sources like the Iliad as a guide, the research team found 10 vessels that sank across a period of 5,000 years.

“We were both surprised and delighted by the breadth of our findings,” Argiris told All That’s Interesting. “While we anticipated uncovering evidence of maritime activity, the sheer number and diversity of shipwrecks and artifacts exceeded our expectations.”

The ships were discovered at depths of between 65 and 155 feet and represent an impressive range of human history. They include vessels from the Classical period (460 B.C.E.), the Hellenistic period (100 B.C.E. to 100 C.E.), the Roman period (200 B.C.E. to 300 C.E.), the Byzantine period (800 C.E. to 900 C.E.) and even a ship from more modern times: a wooden World War II vessel.

In addition to the wreckage, the research team also documented a number of thrilling historical objects that went down with their respective ships.

The Historical Treasures Under The Sea Near Greece

None of the shipwrecks found in Kasos Strait, of course, meant to sink. As such, the underwater research team found the seabed strewn with treasures from 5,000 years of human history. These “unique finds” came from far-flung places like Spain, Italy, Africa, and Asia Minor.

Divers Examining Artifacts Near Greece

Ministry of Culture, photo by N. KoukoulasDivers examine an object on the sea floor, one of the many “unique finds” that they documented during four years of research.

According to the Greek Ministry of Culture, the research team found a Spanish amphora with a seal on its handle from between 150 and 170 C.E., drinking vessels, African terra sigillata flasks from the Roman era, a stone anchor from ancient Greece, and other items. The team also took some 20,000 underwater photos before their research concluded in October 2023.

Next, the Greek Ministry of Culture reports that the information gleaned from the four-year survey of Kasos Strait — alongside original studies from historians, archaeologists, conservators, and other scientists — will be put together in a collective volume set to be published later this year. And starting in June, research of the area will also expand to nearby Karpathos.

And Argiris is confident that they will continue to make new discoveries.

“We believe there are still numerous shipwrecks waiting to be discovered in the waters surrounding Kasos,” she told All That’s Interesting. “Our initial findings represent just a fraction of the maritime history that lies beneath the surface… we believe that further exploration will unveil additional shipwrecks and artifacts, each with its own story to tell.”

After reading about the 10 shipwrecks discovered off the coast of Greece, discover the stories behind some of the world’s most famous shipwrecks. Or, learn about some of the world’s most impressive sunken ships. Then, read about the Antikythera Mechanism, the ancient “computer” found in a Greek shipwreck.

Kaleena Fraga
A staff writer for All That's Interesting, Kaleena Fraga has also had her work featured in The Washington Post and Gastro Obscura, and she published a book on the Seattle food scene for the Eat Like A Local series. She graduated from Oberlin College, where she earned a dual degree in American History and French.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.