Archaeologists Find Underwater Building from Battle of Salamis

FILE - Underwater ruin that could be the remains of a public building situated near the port of Salamis in antiquity. (Photo: Culture Ministry via Eurokinissi)

ATHENS – It was a pivotal moment in world and Greek history – the naval Battle of Salamis in September, 480 B.C. where a Greek fleet destroyed a Persian armada – and now archaeologists said they have found remains underwater at the site of a building.

The monumental structure was found in the shallow waters off the coast of Salamis during excavation work that took place a year ago but the Greek Culture Ministry only now revealed the details.

The structure, in shallow water, was found to be almost 50 feet long and was arranged on a north-south axis. Researchers believe it was a large public building that was used until the late Roman times, in the Third Century, said Newsweek in a feature on the discovery.

The researchers said it would likely have been one of the main public buildings in the area, located at the lowest point of the ancient city—at the port. The team found ceramics, statues, columns or pillars and other features relating to the building, along with marble sculptures, including the head of a statue of an athlete or god the ministry said appeared to be from the Fourth Century B.C.

To look in detail, researchers used a new technique where a flexible barrier was constructed, allowing them to drain the area being excavated, get a better view of the site and to take samples of the sediments, helping them date the building and reconstruct the geography of the region from 2,500 years ago.

The Battle of Salamis was a pivotal event in western civilization as it came after the heroic last stand of the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae, which delayed the Persian advance and gave the Athenians time to regroup.

The Persian army had marched through eastern Greece but the Greek fleet took to Salamis where Themistocles, a General and politician, convinced the Navy to fight, taking advantage of the maneuverability of the Greek ships to pick apart the chaotic mass of Persian ships.

After winning, the Greeks defeated the Persians in several other key battles, ending the period of invasion.