Famed Greek Naval Battle Site Found

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March 20, 2017

Archaeologists have discovered the location of the gathering of Greek naval forces before the pivotal Battle of Salamis.

Accounts of the famous battle, the one that finally turned the tide in the Greeks' favor for good in the Greco-Persian Wars, list many details, including the number of triremes that the Greeks were able to bring to bear, but the exact place in the Saronic Gulf at which the Greek triremes assembled has not identified, until now.

A team of 20 archaeologists began the work in November 2016. Underwater research turned up port structures and ancient artifacts submerged beneath the waves of the Bay of Ambelakia, off the eastern coast of the island of Salamis.

It would have been there, the archaeologists say, that the Greeks would have come together to execute their naval battle plan, which included what is regarded by many historians as one of the most famous feints in military history.

Following their success at Thermopylae, the Persian army poured into mainland Greece and wreaked havoc, including burning Athens to the ground. The people and army of Athens, however, had escaped to the island of Salamis in the ships that far-sighted generals had insisted on building several years before.

The Persian fleet followed the retreating Greeks to Salamis, where another surprise awaited. With the Persian Emperor Xerxes watching on his throne from high up on a mountaintop overlooking the Bay of Salamis, the Greek ships first sailed away from shore, pretending to flee the island, then turned around quickly and began ramming the larger, slower-moving, more difficult-to-manuever Persian ships. Before Xerxes knew what had hit him, half his fleet was on the ocean floor. In frustration as great as his father's 10 years earlier, Xerxes led his army back home.

The 2016-2017 research came in the wake of a July 2016 announcement of the discovery of a nearby shipyard that housed ships connected with the Battle of Salamis.

Making the latest announcement was the Ministry of Culture and Sport, whose Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities cooperated with the Institute of Marine Archaeology on the project, which had financial backing from the British Honor Frost Foundation.

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