Interesting story about the hunt for Greek ships, such as the ones used to attack Troy. And that film will be out in May. The article seems to have been edited badly, it cuts off at the end.
The Persian Wars may be famed in history, but few artifacts and material remains have emerged to shed light on how the ancient Greeks defeated the Asian invaders and saved Europe in what scholars call one of the first great victories of freedom over tyranny.
It is well known that a deadly warship of antiquity, the trireme, a fast galley powered by three banks of rowers pulling up to 200 oars, played a crucial role in the fierce battles. Its bronze ram could smash enemy ships, and armed soldiers could leap aboard a foe’s vessel in hand-to-hand combat with swords and spears, an innovation that merged land and sea tactics in a bloody new form of combat.
Yet no wreck of a trireme has ever come to light, and questions abound about the ship’s design and operation, leaving much room for scholarly debate and wishful thinking.
Now, the first big expedition has gotten under way to look for the lost fleets of the Persian Wars, seeking to bring triremes back to life and retrieve some of the vast treasure of arms and armor believed to have gone down with the warships.
A team of more than two dozen Greek, Canadian and American experts is seeking the remains of 1,000 or so triremes, Greek and Persian, as well as hundreds of support vessels. The hunt is alluring, they say, because the sea is far more likely than land to have preserved artifacts from the Persian Wars. The victorious Greeks, who named them, saw the series of battles as a defining moment – the defeat of a ruthless state that had enslaved much of the known world from the Balkans to the Himalayas.
The team hopes to illuminate the battles and solve trireme mysteries. For instance, modern experts built a 37-meter, or 120-foot, copy, but neither it nor recent theorizing and experimentation have explained how the ancient warships moved so rapidly.
“That means somewhere there is a mistake,” said Katerina Dellaporta, director of underwater antiquities for Greece and a leader of the project. “They were very, very steady in naval battles and very fast.”
Last year, the team, working off Mount Athos in the northern Aegean, found tantalizing hints of what may be the first of five sunken fleets. Next month, the experts plan to return to the site and survey the seabed for the remains of ancient sips, arms and armor. Especially, they hope to find the bronze rams from trireme bows, which are considered more likely than wood to have survived ages of neglect.
“This is the most exciting underwater archaeology project I could imagine,” said Robert Hohlfelder, a team member who is a historian at the University of Colorado. “The potential is so great. This is the big prize in the Mediterranean.”
The venture, a collaboration between the Greek government and the Canadian Archaeological Institute at Athens, has attracted top investigators from some of the best American undersea groups, including the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University and the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M.
Experts see the work as challenging because of strong currents, recovery uncertainties and fierce storms in the Aegean that can strike unexpectedly. In fact, gales rather than enemy action destroyed three of the five ancient fleets.
“We’re playing for high stakes,” said Shelley Wachsmann of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, who heads the project along with Dellaporta. “We may come back with nothing or we may find the remains of a major historical event described by the father of history.”
The Persian empire, originating in present-day Iran, acquired its vast armadas by conquering maritime powers, including Asiatic Greeks, Phoenicians, and Egyptians. Any find could throw