The shipwreck of the French vessel "La Terese"
was found in 1976 during the surveys that Jacques Yves Cousteau did
in the Agean in cooperation with the Greek Ministry of Culture. According
to the press of the period, the shipwreck was pointed out to Cousteau
by a diver coming from Heraklion, in the area between the Heraklion bay
and the islet of Dia.
As soon as it was scanned, the wreck was called "the shipwreck of the skulls",
due to the numerous skeletal remains found within the ship.
Systematic surveys started in 1987 and a lot of finds were pulled up: various
arms, as canons with the escutcheon of the French kings, canonballs, tools used
in the ship and many items of every day life. Along with parts of the ship there
were pulled up the skeletal remains, shich were found to belong to more than
The finds of the shipwreck and the vessel itself are very interesting
and important for the scholars, as they give information about the shipbuilding
techniques of the period, but also about the history of the 25-years
long siege of Candia, as it was the name of the actual city of Heraklion,
by the Ottomans.
According to the documents of the period, the ship made part of the
fleet which arrived to Heraklion, in order to help the besieged defensors
of the fortified town. It was the vice-flagship of the fleet and arrived
at Candia on the 19th of June of 1669. It was the only ship of the fleet
that sank, during the attack of the Christian army both in sea and in
land on the 24th of June of 1669; the ship sank because of an accidental
explosion of the powder keg, but the accident had a fatal influence to
the moral of the Christian troops, who did not realise their attack,
whereas the French were forced to leave the island. Soon after, the "Megalo
Kastro" ("great castle" as they used to call Heraklion) passed to the
The ship had been built at Toulon from 1662 to 1665 and was one of the
best warships of France: 900 tons displacement and armed with 58 canons