The fourth season of the underwater archaeological survey of the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities in the archipelagos of Fournoi, was initiated on the 10th of September 2018. It is being conducted in cooperation with the R.P.M. Nautical Foundation and with the support of the KORSEAI Institute. Within the goals of this research period, is the continuation of the underwater survey along the coasts of the island complex of Fournoi as well as the further documentation of the 53 already discovered wrecks.
The survey involves a team of about 30 people and work will be concluded by September 29th. As every year, with the completion of the survey, a presentation will be scheduled, in order to inform the local community about the progress of the project and the future goals of the researchers.
A temporary installation has been set up in the Port of Fournoi to support the undergoing archeological work, open to the public, to get a first glance of the of the results, and become acquainted with the work of the archaeologists, conservationists, photographers and engineers.
The survey is directed by the archaeologist of the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities Dr. George Koutsouflakis and the member of the R.P.M. Nautical Foundation, archaeologist Dr. Peter Campbell.
The KORSEAI - Institute of Historical and Archaeological Research was created in winter 2016/2017 by the leading team that conducted the underwater archaeological research in Fourni (seasons 2015-2016), in partnership with representatives of the Fourni Municipality. The main incentive for the creation of the Institute was the past two years of experience in the archipelagos of Fourni, an experience deeply touching for those involved. The unprecedented richness of underwater archaeological findings, in such a small and isolated island, which rarely appears on any historical documents, changed the way we considered the Aegean sea historically, and demonstrated that the importance of some sites may be much larger from what historical evidence and terrestrial sites indicate. The historical significance of the closed island communities as microcosms, as geographically isolated units, but also as parts of broader networks of naval exchange, and finally as stepping stones for maritime enterprises, has been analyzed in monographs, and collective works in the past. The full extent of understanding of the historical significance of a place, is however not always necessarily in direct order to suggested historical patterns. Whether Fourni is an exception to the rules, or corresponds to the historical models expressed before, is something that only the continuation of the archaeological research can prove.
Meanwhile, the potential of Fourni Islands as an historical and archaeological research field, looks inexhaustible. Having the feeling that the first two underwater archaeological expeditions were just "scraping the tip of the iceberg", we have been continually exploiting ways to ensure the continuity and gradual intensification of the expeditions. All this is taking place in a particularly difficult economical situation in Greece, where the budgets of all field surveys are shrinking, and several projects have been canceled, due to lack of financial resources. If archaeological projects should be viable, the need for openness and extroversion, seems to be more urgent now than any time in the past.
The Korseai Institute hopes to mainly become a communications platform, which will revive the historical and archaeological interest in this region of the Aegean. Its main objectives are the financial and logistical assistance of all projects of the Archaeological Service and other scientific entities, encouraging research, and the general promotion of any studies, which will contribute to the understanding of cultural heritage, and the historical restoration of these islands and their surroundings.
Historically, such Institutes on other island in the Aegean, have successfully survived for remarkably long period of time, and produced important publications, which have left an enduring legacy of scientific research for future scholars. It’s the first time that such an efford is taking place in Fourni, and we would like to believe that it will be successful, for us and for generations to come.
From the founding members
Dr. George Koutsouflakis, Archaeologist, Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities
Director of Fourni Underwater Archaeological Project