Ancient Greek Naval Base “Ship Sheds” Uncovered

Credit: Bjørn Lovén / The Zea Harbour Project

Credit: Bjørn Lovén / The Zea Harbour Project

(Piraeus, Greece) – An ancient naval base located underground in Piraeus, Greece, has been successfully uncovered by archaeologists and those involved with the Zea Harbour Project, whose goal it is to investigate the ancient harbors of Zea and Mounichia, which are located near present-day Piraeus. The naval base, which was discovered about a decade ago, took years to successfully uncover due to the challenges that performing underwater excavations present.

This structure, which is thought to have housed thousands of ancient ships called triremes, is currently one of the largest ancient structures that we know of. The underwater archaeologists believe they have successfully uncovered the “ship sheds” that were used to hold the boats. A trireme is an ancient boat that was made up of three rows of oars, and each oar was manned by one person.

Divers who were part of the excavation of the site found a total of six sheds. Bjørn Lovén, the lead archaeologist of the site, described this find as “monumental.” The sheds measure at 23 to 25 feet, or 7 to 8 meters, high, and 164 feet, or 50 meters, long. One of the problems that the people had back then was that the ships were susceptible to ship worm, which burrowed into the vessels and caused them considerable damage. Structures such as the ones that were uncovered help protect against that.

The fact that the dig site was located in the water caused the team considerable challenges. The water at the harbor is contaminated, which means that the team had to wear special suits and masks when they entered into the water to prevent the pollution from harming them. Archaeologists proficient in working in the challenging environment also need to be excellent divers who could work on excavating in that environment. Despite the callenges, the team has successfully uncovered things like the shed structures, shards of pottery, and other artifacts that can help lead to a greater understanding of what an ancient naval yard was like.

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