Archaeologists have used drones and an old cold war spy boat to identify three shipwrecks on the Mediterranean seabed. One contains artefacts dating back over 2000 years, hinting at a vast network of trade during the rise of ancient Greek city states like Athens.

“If our dates are correct, this is just as Alexander the Great is beginning his conquest,” says team leader Ben Ballard at the Ocean Exploration Trust (OET), whose father Robert discovered the wreck of the Titanic.

In 2010 and 2012, Ben Ballard and his colleagues explored the Eratosthenes seamount, an underwater plateau south of Cyprus, on expeditions supported by the OET. They scanned the seamount using the OET’s Nautilus vessel, which was originally a spy boat built by East Germany in the 1970s, plus other technology such as underwater drones.


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