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Greece » Crete » Heraklion Prefecture » Heraklion Sightseeing » The shipwreck of the French vessel "La Therese" (1669)
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The shipwreck of the French vessel "La Therese" (1669)

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 300 persons.

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 Ottomans.

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
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