Limenoscope - Ancient Hellenic Ports
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Salamis - Ambelaki
The remains of the Classical / Hellenistic capital of Salamis are located at the area of Ambelaki bay, on the Pounta promontory, at the east side of the island. Submerged structural features of harbour-works in the inner bay indicate the site of the harbour. In this small bay the Athenian fleet was gathered before the famοus naval battle in 480 BC.
The existence of the harbour is witnessed from the middle of 4th c. BC by Skyllax who laconicly notes: "Salamis is an island, a city and a port" (Periplus, 57).  


Main features
Region Saronic Gulf  
Use Naval Base  
Prosperity period (centuries) 5th B.C. - 3rd B.C.  
Existence of contemporary port No  
Findings on site Yes  
General description
The harbour-works of the Ambelaki bay consist of remains of ashlar masonry including moles and other structures, whose function can not be determined without further underwater investigation and excavation.
A partly submerged row of blocks running E-W is located on the west side of the bay that probably dates to Classical / Hellenistic period.
On the east side of the bay there is yet another oblong structure (mole?), running NE-SW for 37.30m.
A third structure exists on the north side of the bay, made of blocks (1.2 to 1.30m. long), probably in second use. It runs N-S for 54.50m, having a width of 1.4 to 1.6m.
Furthermore structures such as foundations, wall segments etc seem to be related with the harbour and its function. Meanwhile, the oral tradition attest to the existence of underwater stone-paved platforms or corridors, which could resemble ship-shed ramps (?)  
Technical features
Construction period (centuries) 5th B.C. - 3rd B.C.  
Port configuration Artificial Harbour, Outer Harbour  
Port basin size m2 
Main wind direction W
Port land area km2 
Port entrance  
Change of sea surface elevation 1.5 m 
Outer port structures Moles
Inner port structures  
Land facilities Defence Structures, Other  
Construction method  
Neotectonic history Sink  
Shore line displacement  
Function and operations
The harbour installations at the Ambelaki bay were obviously the seaward gate of the Classical and Hellenistic city of Salamis, as it is evident from the pottery collected from the wider area. Not only the merchantile transactions, well expected for an island with heavy interdepedence with a nearby large urban center, but also naval installations could had served the needs of the Athenian fleet due to its proximity and its pivotal position on the straits controlling navigation from south.  
References in ancient literature
  • Curtius E. - Kaupert J. A., 1881, Karten von Attika, Berlin
  • Hammond N.G.L., 1976, "Salamis, Attica, Greece" in Stillwell R. (ed.) The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites, N.J. Princeton University Press, Princeton []
  • Lolos Y., 1995, "Notes on Salaminian harbours", Tropis III, 3rd International symposium on ship construction in antiquity, Athens, 1989, pp. 283-308
  • Πάλλας Δ., 1949, "Σαλαμινιακά", Αρχαιολογική Εφημερίς, Αρχαιολογική Εταιρεία, Αθήνα, σσ. 112-134
  • Πάλλας Δ., 1987, "Aρχαιολογικές επισημάνσεις στη Σαλαμίνα", Αρχαιολογικόν Δελτίον 42, ΥΠΠΟ, Αθήνα, σσ. 168-230
  • Παπαχατζής Ν., 1974, Παυσανίου Ελλάδος Περιήγησις. Αττικά, Αθήνα  
  • Related researches  
    Findings in museums No  
    Other references
  • Skylax, Periplus, 57
  • Pausanias, Description of Greece, Ι.53.3
  • Strabo, Geography, ΙΧ.1.9  
  • Protection regime  
    Author Theotokis Theodoulou  
    Editor Theotokis Theodoulou  
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