The underwater abyss, where the deepest point of the Mediterranean is located, due to the many shipwrecks that have occurred, can be characterized as the Greek Triangle of Bermuda!
A few miles southwest of Sapienza , opposite Methoni, is the deepest point of the Mediterranean (at 5,121 m.), the Oinoussa Well .
“Nestor” and Frear of Oinoussa
The investigations of the “Nestor” experiment take place from there . Essentially, the name of the pioneering program, in which Greek and foreign research institutions participate, is the acronym NESTOR (Neutrino Extended Submarine Telescope with Oceanographic Research). The aim is, through the depths of the abyss where they can be “trapped” as no sunlight reaches them, to investigate the existence of neutrinos, those tiny particles that are hoped to provide crucial information about the Universe’s past. A huge telescope, larger than the Eiffel Tower, has been set up in the well, while the fiber optic cable that provides information to the researchers’ station which has been installed in the old high school of Pylos was recently installed – with great difficulty.
“Navigare con Sapienza”
This was the advice (” sail with wisdom “) to the sailors of the late Middle Ages recorded on maps by the then world-traveled Venetians. It is said that this phrase was completed near Methoni and the word “Sapienza” fell on an islet in front of its port. That’s why Sapienza was named that way. It is, however, a fitting name for those who sail in the waters of the shipwreck-strewn area. The captains of the two trucks that collided a few miles outside of Sapienza at 5:43 a.m. in April 2013 apparently didn’t heed that advice.
There are many sunken hulls of ships of all times and great loads, which are usually brought to light by the fishermen who dive in these waters. A ship wrecked there with a stolen cargo, the granite columns believed to have come from Herod’s Great Peristyle in Caesarea, Palestine (1st century AD). There the so-called “sarcophagus wreck”, as the cargo was Roman sarcophagi made of titanium stone. According to legend, it was the spot where the Apostle Paul landed when his ship was caught in a storm on his way to Rome. The island was a well-known anchorage as well as an important port in the Mediterranean for anyone who wanted to control the passage to the East. That is why it is not surprising that the Venetians, the sea rulers of the time, took it after the Fourth Crusade, in 1209, with the “Treaty of Sapienza .’
The legend says that in a cove of the island, in a cave that no longer exists, the pirate Manetas was hiding. However, it was an anchorage and base for both the Turks and the Venetians as well as the Greek fleet in 1825.
Ibrahim and the hunt for gold
Opposite, in Methoni, an important geopolitical hub for centuries, Ibrahim’s army landed in 1825, spreading terror among the rebellious Greeks and occupying a large part of Morea. He settled in the city’s Venetian castle, which was built in 1209 to serve the ships and the sea lane controlled by the Venetians, and had been captured by the Ottomans in 1500 where it was recaptured by the Venetian admiral Francesco Morosini in 1686. It is characteristic that the Turks from 1715 when they took control of this strategic city – even from Byzantium – they kept it throughout the revolution of 1821 even though it was besieged many times. Finally, the city will be liberated without a fight in 1828 by Maison with the French expeditionary force.
Among the many shipwrecks around Sapienza and Schiza, they were recently looking for the ship that carried the legendary gold of the Jews of Thessaloniki that had been seized by the Nazis. The German officer Max Merten had managed to amass a huge fortune of gold pounds and jewels. He promised the Jewish population that they would not be sent to concentration camps if they gave him their valuable possessions, but he eventually signed off on their deportation. The hunt for this “lost treasure” began in 2000 to locate what is left of the boat that in 1943 was said to have sunk in the Southwest Peloponnese.
In the end, those involved only got disappointment as the famous sunken ” Merten’s treasure ” was never found. But it was another story about a treasure that the residents of the area have been hearing for many years. Others tell of pirates who stopped there and hid diamonds and pounds. Some fishermen claimed that the sea was washing up gold pounds in certain places. But with such a treasure of shipwrecks, the only thing that is certain is that what is being discussed, the creation of an underwater archaeological park, will somewhat appease the already excited imagination of some.
The Galera with the Granite Columns
The first years of the 10th AD century, when Caesar Octavian or Gaius Octavius or Augustus reigned in the then all-powerful Rome, Herod Philip II, son of Herod the Great and tetrarch of Ituraia and Trachonitida, renamed the city of Paniada, in honor of Augustus, to Caesarea. The ancient city of Palestine at the mouth of the Jordan, which until then owed its name to a cave in the area dedicated to the cloven-footed god Pan, has since been known as Caesarea Philippi. In the renaming of the city, a brilliant peristyle was also rebuilt, with granite columns that arrived there for this purpose from Aswan in Egypt. In the following centuries, during the first crusade and after the capture of Jerusalem in 1099, the peristyle of Caesarea completely destroyed and fled, along with other archaeological treasures, from the Venetians in ships to the West. Something similar was repeated about a hundred years later, in the fourth crusade, when again the cultural treasures of Constantinople fled to brighten the city of the doges. However, at least one of the ships, carrying among other antiquities and twelve granite columns from Caesarea, sank in the “Strait” of Methoni, at a distance of 50-60 meters from the cape
Karsi of Sapienza .
Today, at a depth of 7-8 meters, several pieces of broken granite columns, as well as an intact column, rest on the bottom of the “Stenos”, scattered in a diameter of about thirty meters. A piece of the red granite columns was lifted from the wreck sometime during the 1st Venetian rule. After it was decorated with a Gothic capital (gotico fiorito), it was placed in the forecourt of the palace of the castellano of Methoni . After the column was raised from the sunken galley, the wreck was forgotten.
The four Roman sarcophagi from Troy
Another ancient shipwreck of the 2nd or 3rd AD. century, at least four Roman sarcophagi made of titanium stone and originating from the shores of Troy in Mysia also adorn the bottom of the Strait of Methoni. Of course, their covers are with them. One is broken and the other three intact. On them they bear identical reliefs with garlands. In 1920, local fishermen spotted the wreck of the Roman sarcophagi. Thus, in 1925, the historian-lawyer of Kalamata Dionysios Potaris, who was then serving in Pylos as director of the raisin cooperative, located with the help of the fishermen and recorded the “marbles”. In June and October 1925, he sent two reports to the Ministry of Education which was then in charge and in the meantime managed, at his own expense and with passers-by spongers from Pylos Kalymnius, to lift a Roman sarcophagus. He then sent her by ship from Pylos to Piraeus. In 1963, the scuba diver Peter Throckmorton arrived in Methoni and, again following suggestions from local fishermen, “went down”, photographed and recorded on accurate topographical diagrams the archaeological findings of the wrecks of the Roman sarcophagi, but also of the granite columns.