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Ancient Salamis Reveals More Long-Lost Secrets

View of the sea walls of ancient Salamina unearthed in 2020. Credit: Hellenic Ministry of Culture
View of the sea walls of ancient Salamis, unearthed in 2020. Credit: Hellenic Ministry of Culture

The latest archaeological discoveries on the historic island of Salamis, off the coast of Attica, Greece, shed new light on the life in the ancient city of the same name from the Classical era onward.

The Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities and the Institute of Marine Archaeology of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture shared impressive photographical evidence of the new findings, centered around a large part of the ancient city walls.

Directed by Dr. Angeliki Simossi and Professor Yannos G. Lolos, the research was successfully carried out by a team of 15 experts, despite the difficult conditions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, due to the generalized uncertainty and the inability to completely plan out their objectives, the project was limited to a smaller area, on Ampelakia Bay, which is has been excavated since 2016.

Inside the walls of ancient Salamis

The latest excavations revealed a large part of the submerged sea walls running alongside the ancient city’s harbor, where the Greek fleet gathered for the epic Battle of Salamis against the Persians in 480 BC.

Methods of both land and marine archaeology have been used to excavate through five layers down from ground level.

Two distinct construction periods of the city walls were identified by the researchers, both dating back to the Classical era, starting from the 4th century BC.

The images from before and after the excavation on the site show the extent of the works carried out by the archaeologists this past year.

The excavation site before the works started. Credit: Hellenic Ministry of Culture
The excavation site at Salamis before the works started. Credit: Hellenic Ministry of Culture
The excavation site before around the end of the works. Credit: Hellenic Ministry of Culture
The excavation site near the end of the research period. Credit: Hellenic Ministry of Culture

Other findings from the excavation have included various pottery and marble fragments as well as an unidentified copper coin.

The marine excavation activities took place in September and October of 2020. This was the fifth consecutive year of research in the area, with the current three-year project scheduled to conclude in 2022.

Fragmented lower part of a crater found in ancient Salamina. Credit: Hellenic Ministry of Culture
Fragmented lower part of a crater, or clay vessel, found in ancient Salamis during the 2020 excavations. Credit: Hellenic Ministry of Culture
Ceramic fragment inscribed "NAN", found in ancient Salamina in 2020. Credit: Hellenic Ministry of Culture
Ceramic fragment inscribed with the letters “NAN”, found in ancient Salamis in 2020. Credit: Hellenic Ministry of Culture
Embossed handles of commercial amphores found in ancient Salamina in 2020. Credit: Hellenic Ministry of Culture
Embossed handles of commercial amphorae found in ancient Salamis in 2020. Credit: Hellenic Ministry of Culture

A Place of Universal Significance

The Battle of Salamis, fought between the Persians and a vastly outnumbered Greek force in September of 480 BC, is considered by many historians to be one of the most decisive in history.

Had the Greeks not won the battle, many believe that the Persian invasion of Greece would have been successful, altering the course of history as we know it.

Much like the earlier Battle at Thermopylae, the heroics at the Battle of Salamis have risen to legendary status, as the allied Greek city-states used approximately 370 trireme ships in the fight, and the Persians had over 1,000, according to ancient sources.

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