Greek divers have plunged 162 feet beneath the Aegean Sea and back into history, finding a treasure-laden Turkish warship sunk by Greek revolutionaries in 1822.
The remains of the wooden sailing ship were found near the island of Chios in the eastern Aegean at a point where historical accounts place the sinking of the Ottoman ship, according to Peter Nicolaides, a diver and salvage expert.The Bourloti Seimaz - or "Explosives Invincible" - was set afire and sunk by Greek Admiral Constantine Kanaris in revenge for Turkish killing and looting on Chios.
Thousands of islanders died in the Turkish raids, which shocked other nations and swung Western European countries behind the Greek struggle for independence from the Ottoman Empire. Greece won independence in 1830.
The French painter Eugene Delacroix produced a famous picture, "The Massacre of Chios," based on the raids.
"It's an incredible discovery, straight out of the history book we used to read in school about the War of Independence," Nicolaides said in an interview Friday with The Associated Press.
Nicolaides, who heard about the wreck while teaching an underwater archaeology course to local divers last winter, started querying fishermen about where their nets snagged on seabed obstacles.
He pinpointed the wreck on May 3, he said.
"When I dived, I found ships' timbers sticking out of the muddy seabed and dozens of objects - Islamic cooking pots, cannon balls, a candlestick, even a chalice from a Greek Orthodox church," he said.
"The ship was obviously crammed with loot from Chios. I think there may be gold and silver items as well," he said. "I also saw what I recognized as human bones," he added.
According to historians, more than 1,000 people - including 400 Greek captives - were aboard the ship when Kanaris staged his attack in the early hours of June 7, 1822.
Papathanassopoulos said the 162-foot water depth at the site will make investigation difficult since underwater archaeology rarely is attempted at depths over 113 feet, but he said, "This is a ship that must be explored."