Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Ancient Naval Bases Discovered in Athens' Piraeus Harbor

Massive fortifications and sunken ship-sheds thousands of years old have been found in Piraeus, the harbor city of Athens.

The discoveries are part of the partially sunken port that played a pivotal role in the famous Battle of Salamis, against the Persian Empire, a naval conflict that saved Greece in 480 BCE.
Researchers identified, for the first time, the 5th century BC naval bases of Piraeus – the ship-sheds, the slipways and the harbor fortifications.

The naval victory in the Battle of Salamis liberated the Greeks from the Persian yoke.
The Battle of Salamis was a naval battle fought between an alliance of Greek city-states under Themistocles and the Persian Empire under King Xerxes in 480 BC which resulted in a decisive victory for the outnumbered Greeks. The battle was fought in the straits between the mainland and Salamis, an island in the Saronic Gulf near Athens.

The battles of Salamis and Plataea marked a turning point in the course of Greco-Persian wars. Historians believe that a Persian victory would have hamstrung the development of Ancient Greece, and western civilization, and this makes Salamis one of the most significant battles in human history.

King Xerxes watches his defeat
With the Persian ships gone from the Aegean, the nature of the allied Greek states changed from defensive to expansive. Athens was freed to deploy large fleets throughout the Mediterranean, which it used to carve out the great Greek empire. To preserve its empire and secure its wealth, Athens maintained a large war fleet. At its peak, Piraeus hosted about 400 triremes requiring crews of 80,000 sailors and soldiers.

Athenian triremes patrolled the Black Sea in the North, the Israelite coast in the east, and the Nile delta of Egypt in the south.