The wreckage of 11 ancient Greek ships, which are believed to date back to the 3rd century B.C., have been found off the southern Lebanese coast by divers from the Sidon Diving Academy, The Daily Star newspaper reported.
“The ships were probably involved in the campaign of Alexander the Great, who tried to enter and occupy the city of Tyre in 322 B.C. by building a road extending from the beach to the city walls of the island,” head of the Lebanese Union of Professional Divers and director of the Sidon Diving Academy, Mohammad al-Sarji, said in a statement.
“It is known that Alexander the Great besieged the island for several months, trying to storm it in many ways but without merit,” Sarji reiterated, pointing out that the ships might have been sunk due to the overload of stones on board aimed at building a bridge so Alexander the Great could breach the fortifications.
“In the end, he built a road from the mainland to the island which arrived on the [city’s] southeast side. He broke down the walls, entered and destroyed the city completely and took its inhabitants captive,” he explained.
Sarji has contacted the Directorate General of Antiquities to start excavations in the site.
“The spread of broken pottery on the seafloor suggests that the goods were aboard a group of Greek ships on their way to the city of Tyre ... when a storm destroyed the boats and scattered their contents across the ocean floor,” Professor of archaeology at the Lebanese University Jaafar Fadlallah told the Daily Star.
Fadlallah, who has been conducting research on the site, explained that remnants can reveal the circumstances of the 2,000-year-old boats’ destruction.
“We know that the Greek ships traveled in groups of 11, and the quantity of pottery suggests this was a full group of ships,” he said.
“On land you can work whenever you want. But underwater, you can only work for periods of two hours at a time, so this work will take a long time,” Fadlallah noted.