IN a bustling port near Athens thousands of years ago, a massive structure housed hundreds of warships that likely took part in a pivotal Greek victory against the Persian Empire, according to a team of Danish archaeologists.
The ships, named "triremes" for their three rows of oars, are long gone.
But underwater archaeologists who spent more than a decade excavating the site where they once rested found remnants of the so-called "ship sheds" that protected the boats, part of an enormous and fortified naval stronghold beneath what is now the Mounichia fishing and yachting harbor.
This shipyard complex is one of the largest known structures in the ancient world, according to a statement by the Copenhagen Carlsburg Foundation, which contributed funding toward the archaeological excavation.
Divers uncovered six sheds, which lead archaeologist Bjørn Lovén described in a statement as "monumental."
According to Lovén, an associate professor in maritime and classical archaeology at the University of Copenhagen, each of the sheds measure 23 to 25 feet (7 to 8 meters) high, and 164 feet (50 m) long.
The structures protected the war vessels against shipworm, a marine mollusk pest that burrows into wood, and kept the ships from drying out and warping.
Divers not only excavated and mapped the long-lost shipyard, but also recovered pottery shards and fragments of wood from a colonnade's foundation that dates from between 520 and 480 B.C.
According to Lovén, this suggests that at least some of the ships sheltering there were part of the Athenian fleet that defeated the Persian army during the Battle of Salamis in 480 BC ... a pivotal moment in Greek history.
"A Persian victory would have had immense consequences for subsequent cultural and social developments in Europe," Lovén said in the statement. "The victory at Salamis rightly echoes through history and awakens awe and inspiration around the world today."
Original article on Live Science.