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Scientists use clues from Homer's Iliad to find shipwrecks that were lost thousands of years ago

Scientists use clues from Homer's Iliad to find shipwrecks that were lost thousands of years ago

The ancient poem provided clues that helped researchers discover as many as 10 shipwrecks

Scientists have been able to piece together clues from Homer's Iliad to help them with an epic mission to locate shipwrecks that were lost to the ocean thousands of years ago.

Who needs computers anyway?

If the only Homer you're familiar with is the Patriarch of the Simpsons family, then allow me to explain a bit further.

The research took place on the coast of Kasos.
Ministry of Education

Born in 8th century BC, Homer was a Greek poet who has earned recognition as one of the most influential authors in history.

He's been credited as the author of two poems which are considered foundational works of ancient Greek literature - the Odyssey, and the Iliad.

The latter was written in 800 BCE, and featured references which researchers from Greece's National Research Foundation and the Ministry of Culture found useful when they attempted to locate numerous ships which had sunk around the island of Kasos.

In a statement, the Greek Ministry of Culture explained that the researchers began carrying out their research missions in 'areas of special interest' in 2019.

Homer's poem contained clues useful in the research.
Ministry of Education

Over the course of four years, ending in October 2023, the researchers were able to locate 10 ships as well as 'important individual finds' dating from 3000BC, up to 900 AD and the medieval and Ottoman periods.

Findings include drinking vessels, terra sigillata flasks which belong to the Roman period of African origin and a stone anchor of the Archaic period.

The most recently sunken ship discovered is thought to be from the time of WWII. It measured approximately 25m-30m and was made of wood with metal elements.

The ministry explained that researchers relied on a range of sources, including 'archaeological and historical evidence [and] testimonies and references on the island of Kasos'.

Researchers are now planning to widen the search.
Ministry of Education

Among the sources was Homer's Iliad, which references the Greek island as a trading hub which joined the fight against Troy during the The Trojan War.

Combining the skills of professors, diving archaeologists, historians, architects, biologists and other specialists, the team were able to bring to light the remains of ships from Spain, Italy, Africa and the coasts of Asia Minor.

The team captured more than 20,000 underwater photos, which were then used to study and synthesize digital images of the wrecks.

The results offer up a wealth of data to the scientific community across the globe, with more details on the finds set to be released in the future - but the work isn't done yet.

This June, the team plan to expand the research to the marine area of ​​Karpathos, hopefully uncovering more historic finds.

Featured Image Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture