Harbour informations about: Breakwater

The topography of the ancient harbour of Aigeira has unfortunately been to a large extent altered due to geological factors, namely uplift and corrosion of the coastline, but mainly because of the extensive construction works along the coast. Because of the great uplift of the coastline it became possible to study and interpret the stratification of the harbour and to make some observations regarding its construction. Remnants of two breakwaters, or of a breakwater and a mole, are preserved on site, which stretch towards the north. Based on the prevailing winds of the area (NE and mainly NW) it is surmised that the mole-breakwaters were constructed running a. NW and b. NE. The entrance to the harbour should be placed in the area between the breakwater that runs NE and the rock that delineates and protects the harbour from the West.

The constructions are founded on the natural sandy seabed. The underwater part of the harbour was formed by a mixture of hydraulic concrete with rubble and stones from the area held in place by wooden containers after the well-known technique of the caissons. Above the sea surface level it consisted of large hewn blocks placed along the outer side as well as transversally at intervals. The interior part was filled with concrete (opus cimentitium).


The first building phase of the southern breakwater, which originally was more than 330 m long and 12 m wide probably was constructed at the end of the 6th or the beginning of the 5th century BCE. The breakwater was constructed against the southeastern end of the kurkar ridge, with a shallow eastern curve. The breakwater protected an area of 25 acres of water within its north face and the northern shore . It was built at a depth of 3 m, on a pebble base laid on the sea floor. The courses of ashlar headers were laid on the pebble cushion without any bonding material. Each course was 0.55 – 0.6 m high. The size of the stones and their method of construction are nearly identical to those in the ports of Atlit, Tyre and Sidon, predating the Hellenistic period.

Both faces of the breakwater were vertical. On the seaward face, the wall was made of header blocks, 2 m long each and 0.6 m wide. The wall facing the northern shore was made of header blocks of 1.5 m long each and 1.2 m wide.


Port of Ibn Tulun

From the archaeological investigations, two of the deposits of debris in the port of Akko are attributed to the 9th century CE. At the end of this century Ahmad Ibn Tulun, the ruler of Egypt, enlarged the port. The eastern breakwater built from the Tower of the Flies joint the line of the eastern city wall. This breakwater and another rampart that extended northward from the eastern end of the southern breakwater for a length of 100 m, both were built during the 9th century. Each structure, more than 30 m wide, was made of small ashlar and rubble, and fragments of columns in secondary use. The columns are preserved to a height of 3 m above the sea floor.


The outer harbor was comprised of a wide curving breakwater that enclosed the basin from S and W, encompassing a water area of approximately 25 acres. The eastern end of the southern breakwater rests on a rocky promontory that was the southern boundary of the middle basin. The remains of this breakwater (c. 40 m wide), continued westward for approximately a length of 200 m before turning northward for an additional length of 300 m. The width of the fallen remains differ in the western fall, from 60-70 m at the beginning of the arc to 150-180 m near the head of the breakwater, at the northwestern edge of the harbor. In the southern part of the breakwater only a few ashlars of the quay survived. Approximately 30 m west of the base of the breakwater, and 80 m north of its inner side, a floor made of ashlars slabs, of which only a survived section of 4 x 12 m, was found at a depth of 4.9 m bellow the sea level. Presumably the floor was the northern edge of the quay separating the middle and the outer basins.

The body of the southern breakwater was built of conglomerate blocks that were poured in wooden frameworks (caissons). The average of the blocks are 1.8 x 3.9 x 3.9 m. They were placed on a bed of stone rubble. Underneath this bed appear to be a foundation structure also made of concrete blocks. The outer edge of the breakwater rests on long ashlars blocks, some of which reach a length of 5 m, arranged in header courses.

During the excavations seasons of 1990 1991, was found a huge tumbled mass of blocks, in area K (comprised of the northern tip of the main breakwater and the twin towers north of it). The blocks are scattered on an area of 25 x 35 m, at a depth varying from 1.5 m to 8 m bellow the sea level. The tumbled blocks were found on a platform of hydraulic concrete mixed with rubble that had been poured in wooden frameworks (caissons), Some of the wooden caissons survived to a height of 2 m. The caissons had external and internal walls.

Prokomia or Prokomatia (Subsidiary Breakwater)

A well defined wall built of ashlars blocks and rubble, and incorporating few large masses of concrete blocks, branches off the southern face of the southern breakwater, close to its east end. This feature extends for c.130 m in a straight line to the NW. The upper surface of this structure is found at a depth of 6 m bellow the sea level. The width varies from 4 to 8 m and usually it rises 1 to 2 m above the sandy bottom. This wall is not an accidental structure created by the destruction of other features related to the main breakwater. This wall of a segmented line, being placed about 20-30 m outside the spinal wall of the southwestern breakwater, would cause the breaking of the surge and also absorb the waves energy. In his writings (JW 1.411-13; AntJ 15.334-38), Josephus mentions of an outer breakwater that he called prokomia or prokomatia (a subsidiary breakwater). The main role of this breaker was to prevent the splash of the seawater over the spinal quay wetting the vaulted stores. This feature also would ease the destructive impact of under-trenching currents at the base of the main breakwater. Being a segmented line with openings for rip currents, it would prevent the pilling up of seawater on the lee side and also keep it silt free. It seems that this unique structure was only added to the main breakwater, which faces the open sea and the full impact of the surge from the W and SW. This extra breakwater still remained almost intact, though it subsided 5-6 m.

The Northern Breakwater

The northern breakwater was a long rectangular structure projecting almost 240 m from bedrock shoreline towards the entrance channel. Its eastern base is rested on natural rock. Its width varies from 60 to 70 m, being covered (almost entirely) with small pieces of rubble. In the attempt to remove the rubble from the entrance area, large quantities of pottery and coins of the 5th-6th centuries were found. In addition, it was revealed that among the rubble large ashlars blocks were sunken at the entrance. Underneath the rubble wooden beams were discovered, probably to control the descent of the stone blocks on the sea floor. Carbon 14 tests indicate that the wooden beams age range from 1550 to 1700 years ago. Based on this information, the researchers assumed that the beams might be the remains of an attempt to rebuild the sunken harbor by the Byzantine emperor Anastasius (491 518). Near the head of the breakwater, protruding above the rubble of the Byzantine repairs are the remains of an enormous structure built of ashlars blocks 7 m long or more. Iron clamps were implanted in some of the blocks, to set them in place. They were implanted in lead cast in niches carved into the edges of the blocks. Remains of lead flows on the sea bottom (at a depth of mare than 9 m bellow the sea level) indicate that the casting was made after the stone blocks were placed under the water.

On the outer side, near the tip of the northern breakwater was found a rectangular concrete block. This block was poured into a double-wall wooden form (caisson). The dimensions of each formwork were 15 x 21 m. It seems that the original height of the block was as much as 3 m. A pavement of rectangular stone slabs was placed on top of the concrete block.


(keyword breakwater)älteste Anlage zum Schutz der Bucht vor dem durch südsüdwest-Winden bedingten Wellengang ist eine vom Steilhang des Vorgebirges in östlicher Richtung verlaufende, ca. 110 m lange Aufschüttung aus lokalen Bruchsteinen ("breakwater") An ihrer mächtigsten Stelle betrifft ihre Breite bis ca. 70 m.


During sonar surveying a target of possible archaeological interest was located. The researchers (Skoufopoulos 1985) believe that the target may be a structure of the ancient harbour of Gytheion or a Pleistocene rock, or a quay, while they are not able to determine its precise nature without further excavation. The area is located southwest of the modern stadium and almost parallel to the coast. It is located 5m beneath the sea sub-bottom and it is around 220m long and 70m wide.


During Leonard’s investigation a silted breakwater was identified, with a number of fallen square blocks, which were recorded on the shore. The breakwater consists of two parts, the main one is about 68 m. long, narrowing toward its seaward end with maximum width of about 12m; the second one consists of square stones and rough rocks extending 30m. further.


He states in 1966 that, " The breakwater behind the castle of Kyrenia, which is today utilised for the same purpose, the new harbour of the city, was built with large blocks similar to those used at other ancient harbours. It must therefore be an ancient breakwater and not medieval mole for the protection of the castle as many would believe". Under the construction works of the new port the ancient breakwater still survives, as the research of 1971 has proven. Although the modern harbour entrance is located to the east, the ancient entrance must have been placed to the north-west as it was up until the reorientation of the entrance in the 1950’s. On a map of …. the remains that Nicolaou refers to are marked as being ancient sea-walls. The plan from the 1971 survey simply refers to the breakwaters as archaeological remains with a questionmark added to indicate the uncertanty of the statement. On the western breakwater, which is now covered by the modern facility, the upper remains of the Roman and medieval moles can be discerned, whose size (0.6x1x2.3m) act as the base for the modern western breakwater. This is now joined to the eastern breakwater and thus has closed of the ancient entrance to the harbour.

The ancient western breakwater, visible along its entire length, is orientated in a NE direction. It reaches a distance of 40m from its origin, and end a few meters further from the modern lighthouse. For approximately 19m after this point the breakwater curves slightly to the northwest. Past this point the breakwater continues for a further 20m, at a depth of 6m, and turns further northwest towards the open sea where Hellenistic pottery was discovered.


The harbour consists of two breakwaters, which form an enteance to the facility approximately 100m to the west, and have survived to a great extent. The northernmost mole (and hence the winward) survives to length of 155m with a width of 10m, with a SW-NE orientation. The two ends of the mole are curved, with the result that the westernmost curve effectively ‘covers’ the second mole, and thus protects the interior of the harbour from westerly winds. It is possible that the mole was placed on a natural ridge that projected from the beach into the sea. According to Raban two phases of construction are evident on the mole. The first phase compromises well constucted stonework in the Phoenecian style, whilst the second phase of stone blocks up to 1.5m large which most likely placed by Roman engineers.

The second mole projects perpendicularly from the shore in relation to the first, and is orientated NW-SE. The mole has a length of 40m. According to Nicolaou both moles were re-enforced between 1957-1959 to create a modern fishing haven.


There are two jetties in the area. The remains of the earlier mole are of semicircular shape. The ancient mole starts at the Southern Gate of the Castle, from where it spreads towards the south for 100m, and then curves southeast for 80m, to curve again north for the rest 220m and run almost parallel to the walls. The Venetians and Turks undertook a number of harbour works in order protect the Castle and fortify the port. However, these alterations caused the harbour to silt up in the following years.

The second mole was built around 1880 on top of the north mouth of the ancient harbour and vertically to the Castle and it consists of large boulders. This newer mole passes over the north end of the ancient one and extends on at the same direction for 100m. The second mole was an effort to replace the silted harbour mouth north, however, with no result.


The western breakwater is today covered by the constructions of the modern harbour. According to Daszewski the breakwater has a width of 10-15m and a length of 270-280m, with a submerged section measuring 50-70m and a southerly orientation, which is still visable today. This extention was probably constructed in order to protect the entrance to the harbour from the west winds.
The eastern breakwater had a length of 600m with a width of 10-15, whereas Hοhlfelder comments that the width had a length of 20-25m. A section of the western breakwater was destroyed during the dredging of the modern harbour entrance. The ancient entrance to the harbour had an opening of 52-55m. A purposly constructed opening on the eastern breakwater, and possibly others that have not yet been discovered, may have been used to combat the effects of silting due to sea currents at the harbour entrance. A second mole to the south of the opening, which extends for 199m parallel with the breakwater and has a width of 5m, may have functioned for the same reason.


Etruskischer Wellenbrecher (ca.400 v.Chr. als terminus ante quem)
römisch 1, hellenistisch (Anfang 2.Jh.v.Chr.)
römisch 2, kaiserzeitlich (claudisch?/ tiberisch)

In südlichen Areal der Grabung (ampliamento sud) wurden unterhalb der Niveaus der kaiserzeitlichen Centuriation einige Anlagen gefunden, die zum Hafen der etruskischen Stadt gehören. In der Ostecke wurde ein Teil einer Buhne /Palisade (Wellenbrecher) ausgemacht, die sich noch in situ befand und aus einer Reihe gerader Baumstämme geringen Durchmessers (ca. 18-20 cm) bestand, die senkrecht in das sandige Sediment getrieben wurden.


According to Raban the south harbour is the commercial one. It is formed from a breakwater, running southwest - northeast. The south end curves southwest to leave an entrance of approximately 200m. The lower part of it is a rampart built of large blocks down to 6m depth. Over the lower part of large blocks an upper layer consisting of ashlar blocks was placed. This technique of spilled rampart, or breakwater, was not used in Phoenician harbours, but was quite common in Greek harbours, such as the Archaic harbour at Samos, the Classical harbour of Aegina and the commercial port of Cnidos. The construction of the breakwater using this particular technique reflects the orientation Evagoras had towards the Aegean, which hypothesis can be supported by the dense harbour network on the north coast enumerated by Pseudo-Skyllax (Karpasia, Kyrenia, Lapethos, Soloi, Marion). The ashlars are submerged at a depth of 2m, whilst in the basin the depth of the water does not exceed 2.5m. Taking into account the rising sea level from antiquity, estimated to be approximately 1.8-2m, the depth of the harbour would have been only 0.7m. This factor demonstrates the level of silting that occurred in the basin of the harbour, since 0.7m of water is far to shallow for a facility of this size. Under this thick stratum of sediments might possibly lie more architectural features of the harbour, if they exist. To prove this hypothesis excavation would be necessary, since the limited survey of 1971 and 1973 did not locate any further features.


The breakwater was located outside the modern port basin and the city wall, south, on the outer side of the modern mole following a parallel direction. It is a stone structure made of rubble and architectural material in second use, 480m long. Its width has not been identified as it is covered by sediments and material fallen from the modern mole. The construction lies now submerged at a depth of 2.75-3.20m near the shore, 4.43m at the external side of its central part and up to 14m at its south end. At that point it turns slightly and is lost under the modern mole. This construction has been identified with the Polykrateian ‘choma’, which was constructed lasting the reign of Polycrates in 530 BC.

Another stone structure, with estimated dimensions 170-190m length and 20m width, was discovered at a depth of 2m underneath the northern modern mole. It is suggested that it could form part of the foundations of the marine wall/ mole, a continuation of the land fortification from N to S, which must have closed from the east the military port. This hypothesis has been strengthened by the presence of ancient blocks incorporated in the mole of the 19th


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