Aegean Sea

The Aegean Sea (/ɪˈdʒiːən/ or /eɪˈdʒiːən/; Greek: Αιγαίο Πέλαγος Aigaío Pélagos [eˈʝeo ˈpelaɣos] (listen); Turkish: Ege Denizi [eˈɟe deniˈzi]) is an elongated embayment of the Mediterranean Sea located between the Greek and Anatolian peninsulas i.e. between the mainlands of Greece and Turkey. In the north, the Aegean is connected to the Marmara Sea and Black Sea by the Dardanelles and Bosphorus. The Aegean Islands are within the sea and some bound it on its southern periphery, including Crete and Rhodes.

The sea was traditionally known as the Archipelago (in Ancient Greek, Ἀρχιπέλαγος, meaning "chief sea"), but in English the meaning of Archipelago has changed to refer to the Aegean Islands and, generally, to any island group.

Aegean Sea
Aegeansea
A satellite image of the Aegean Sea
Aegean Sea map bathymetry-fr
A Topographical and bathymetric map of the Aegean Sea
LocationMediterranean Sea
Coordinates39°N 25°E / 39°N 25°ECoordinates: 39°N 25°E / 39°N 25°E
TypeSea
Native nameΑιγαίο Πέλαγος  (Greek)
Primary outflowsMediterranean Sea
Basin countriesGreece, Turkey[1]
Max. length700 km (430 mi)
Max. width400 km (250 mi)
Surface area214,000 km2 (83,000 sq mi)
Islands150+
Aegean Sea map
A map of the Aegean Sea
Locatie Egeische Zee
The extent of the Aegean Sea on a map of the Mediterranean Sea

Etymology

In ancient times, there were various explanations for the name Aegean. It was said to have been named after the Greek town of Aegae; after Aegea, a queen of the Amazons who died in the sea; Aigaion, the "sea goat", another name of Briareus, one of the archaic Hecatonchires; or, especially among the Athenians, Aegeus, the father of Theseus, who drowned himself in the sea when he thought his son had died.

A possible etymology is a derivation from the Greek word αἶγες – aiges = "waves" (Hesychius of Alexandria; metaphorical use of αἴξ (aix) "goat"), hence "wavy sea", cf. also αἰγιαλός (aigialos = aiges (waves) + hals (sea)),[2] hence meaning "sea-shore".

The Venetians, who ruled many Greek islands in the High and Late Middle Ages, popularized the name Archipelago (Greek for "main sea" or "chief sea"), a name that held on in many European countries until the early modern period.

In some South Slavic languages the Aegean is often called White Sea (Belo more/Бело море in Serbo-Croatian and Macedonian; Бяло море Byalo more in Bulgarian).[3]

Geography

The Aegean Sea covers about 214,000 square kilometres (83,000 sq mi) in area, and measures about 610 kilometres (380 mi) longitudinally and 300 kilometres (190 mi) latitudinally. The sea's maximum depth is 3,543 metres (11,624 ft), east of Crete. The Aegean Islands are found within its waters, with the following islands delimiting the sea on the south (generally from west to east): Kythera, Antikythera, Crete, Kasos, Karpathos and Rhodes.

The Aegean Islands, which almost all belong to Greece, can be divided into seven groups:

  1. Northeastern Aegean Islands (Thracian Sea[4])
  2. East Aegean Islands (Euboea)
  3. Northern Sporades
  4. Cyclades
  5. Saronic Islands (or Argo-Saronic Islands)
  6. Dodecanese (or Southern Sporades), with the exclusion of Kastellorizo
  7. Crete

The word archipelago was originally applied specifically to the Aegean Sea and its islands. Many of the Aegean Islands, or chains of islands, are actually extensions of the mountains on the mainland. One chain extends across the sea to Chios, another extends across Euboea to Samos, and a third extends across the Peloponnese and Crete to Rhodes, dividing the Aegean from the Mediterranean.

The bays and gulfs of the Aegean beginning at the South and moving clockwise include on Crete, the Mirabello, Almyros, Souda and Chania bays or gulfs, on the mainland the Myrtoan Sea to the west with the Argolic Gulf, the Saronic Gulf northwestward, the Petalies Gulf which connects with the South Euboic Sea, the Pagasetic Gulf which connects with the North Euboic Sea, the Thermian Gulf northwestward, the Chalkidiki Peninsula including the Cassandra and the Singitic Gulfs, northward the Strymonian Gulf and the Gulf of Kavala and the rest are in Turkey; Saros Gulf, Edremit Gulf, Dikili Gulf, Gulf of Çandarlı, Gulf of İzmir, Gulf of Kuşadası, Gulf of Gökova, Güllük Gulf.

Extent

The International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the Aegean Sea as follows:[5]

On the South. A line running from Cape Aspro (28°16′E) in Asia Minor, to Cum Burnù (Capo della Sabbia) the Northeast extreme of the Island of Rhodes, through the island to Cape Prasonisi, the Southwest point thereof, on to Vrontos Point (35°33′N) in Skarpanto [Karpathos], through this island to Castello Point, the South extreme thereof, across to Cape Plaka (East extremity of Crete), through Crete to Agria Grabusa, the Northwest extreme thereof, thence to Cape Apolitares in Antikithera Island, through the island to Psira Rock (off the Northwest point) and across to Cape Trakhili in Kithera Island, through Kithera to the Northwest point (Cape Karavugia) and thence to Cape Santa Maria (36°28′N 22°57′E / 36.467°N 22.950°E) in the Morea.

In the Dardanelles. A line joining Kum Kale (26°11′E) and Cape Helles.

SantoriniPartialPano
A panoramic view of the Santorini caldera, taken from Oia.

Hydrography

ParosHuis
A traditional street in Lefkes, Paros-Greece.

Aegean surface water circulates in a counterclockwise gyre, with hypersaline Mediterranean water moving northward along the west coast of Turkey, before being displaced by less dense Black Sea outflow. The dense Mediterranean water sinks below the Black Sea inflow to a depth of 23–30 metres (75–98 ft), then flows through the Dardanelles Strait and into the Sea of Marmara at velocities of 5–15 cm/s (2–6 in/s). The Black Sea outflow moves westward along the northern Aegean Sea, then flows southwards along the east coast of Greece.[6]

The physical oceanography of the Aegean Sea is controlled mainly by the regional climate, the fresh water discharge from major rivers draining southeastern Europe, and the seasonal variations in the Black Sea surface water outflow through the Dardanelles Strait.

Analysis[7] of the Aegean during 1991 and 1992 revealed three distinct water masses:

  • Aegean Sea Surface Water – 40–50 metres (130–160 ft) thick veneer, with summer temperatures of 21–26 °C and winter temperatures ranging from 10 °C (50 °F) in the north to 16 °C (61 °F) in the south.
  • Aegean Sea Intermediate Water – Aegean Sea Intermediate Water extends from 40–50 m to 200–300 metres (660–980 ft) with temperatures ranging from 11–18 °C.
  • Aegean Sea Bottom Water – occurring at depths below 500–1000 m with a very uniform temperature (13–14 °C) and salinity (3.91–3.92%).

History

Ancient history

Aegean Sea by Piri Reis
A 1528 map of the Aegean Sea by Ottoman Turkish geographer Piri Reis

The current coastline dates back to about 4000 BC. Before that time, at the peak of the last ice age (about 18,000 years ago) sea levels everywhere were 130 metres lower, and there were large well-watered coastal plains instead of much of the northern Aegean. When they were first occupied, the present-day islands including Milos with its important obsidian production were probably still connected to the mainland. The present coastal arrangement appeared around 9,000 years ago, with post-ice age sea levels continuing to rise for another 3,000 years after that.[8]

The subsequent Bronze Age civilizations of Greece and the Aegean Sea have given rise to the general term Aegean civilization. In ancient times, the sea was the birthplace of two ancient civilizations – the Minoans of Crete and the Myceneans of the Peloponnese.[9]

Later arose the city-states of Athens and Sparta among many others that constituted the Athenian Empire and Hellenic Civilization. Plato described the Greeks living round the Aegean "like frogs around a pond".[10] The Aegean Sea was later invaded by the Persians and the Romans, and inhabited by the Eastern Romans (Byzantine-Greeks), the Bulgarians, the Venetians, the Genoese, the Seljuq Turks, and the Ottomans. The Aegean was the site of the original democracies, and its seaways were the means of contact among several diverse civilizations of the Eastern Mediterranean.

Economy and politics

Many of the islands in the Aegean have safe harbours and bays. In ancient times, navigation through the sea was easier than travelling across the rough terrain of the Greek mainland (and to some extent the coastal areas of Anatolia). Many of the islands are volcanic, and marble and iron are mined on other islands. The larger islands have some fertile valleys and plains.

Of the main islands in the Aegean Sea, two belong to Turkey – Bozcaada (Tenedos) and Gökçeada (Imbros); the rest belong to Greece. Between the two countries, there are political disputes over several aspects of political control over the Aegean space, including the size of territorial waters, air control and the delimitation of economic rights to the continental shelf.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Drainage Basin of the Mediterranean Sea". Second Assessment of Transboundary Rivers, Lakes and Groundwaters (PDF) (Report). UNECE. August 2011.
  2. ^ Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, s.v. "αἰγιαλός"
  3. ^ Zbornik Matice srpske za društvene nauke: (1961), Volumes 28-31, p.74 (in Serbian)
  4. ^ "Aegean Sea | Mediterranean Sea". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2017-10-18.
  5. ^ "Limits of Oceans and Seas, 3rd edition" (PDF). International Hydrographic Organization. 1953. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  6. ^ Aksu, A. E., D. Yasar, et al. (1995). "LATE GLACIAL-HOLOCENE PALEOCLIMATIC AND PALEOCEANOGRAPHIC EVOLUTION OF THE AEGEAN SEA – MICROPALEONTOLOGICAL AND STABLE ISOTOPIC EVIDENCE." Marine Micropaleontology 25(1): 1–28.
  7. ^ Yagar, D., 1994. Late glacial-Holocene evolution of the Aegean Sea. Ph.D. Thesis, Inst. Mar. Sci. Technol., Dokuz Eyltil Univ., 329 pp. (Unpubl.)
  8. ^ Tjeerd H. van Andel; Judith C. Shackleton (Winter 1982). "Late Paleolithic and Mesolithic Coastlines of Greece and the Aegean". Journal of Field Archaeology. Journal of Field Archaeology. 9 (4): 445–454. JSTOR 529681.
  9. ^ Tracey Cullen, Aegean Prehistory: A Review (American Journal of Archaeology. Supplement, 1); Oliver Dickinson, The Aegean Bronze Age (Cambridge World Archaeology).
  10. ^ John F. Cherry; Despina Margomenou; Lauren E. Talalay. The familiar phrase giving rise to the title Prehistorians Round the Pond: Reflections on Aegean Prehistory as a Discipline.

External links

2014 Aegean Sea earthquake

The 2014 Aegean Sea earthquake occurred in the northern Aegean Sea between Greece and Turkey on May 24. It had a moment magnitude of 6.9 and a maximum Mercalli intensity of VIII (Severe). Serious damage was reported on the Turkish island of Imbros and the cities of Edirne and Çanakkale, as well as on the Greek island of Lemnos. The earthquake was felt in Bulgaria and southern Romania. Several aftershocks followed the main shock, the strongest measuring 5.3 ML. This aftershock struck the Gulf of Saros at 12:31 local time.

2017 Aegean Sea earthquake

The 2017 Aegean Sea earthquake was a magnitude 6.6 earthquake which struck on 21 July 2017, about 10 km (6.2 mi) south southeast of Bodrum, Turkey, at depth of 7.0 km. Two people were killed and more than 120 others were injured on the Greek island of Kos, while at least 360 injuries were reported in Turkey.

Aegean Islands

The Aegean Islands (Greek: Νησιά Αιγαίου, translit. Nisiá Aigaíou; Turkish: Ege Adaları) are the group of islands in the Aegean Sea, with mainland Greece to the west and north and Turkey to the east; the island of Crete delimits the sea to the south, those of Rhodes, Karpathos and Kasos to the southeast. The ancient Greek name of the Aegean Sea, Archipelago (ἀρχιπέλαγος, archipelagos) was later applied to the islands it contains and is now used more generally, to refer to any island group.

The vast majority of the Aegean Islands belong to Greece, being split among nine administrative regions. The only sizable possessions of Turkey in the Aegean Sea are Imbros (Gökçeada) and Tenedos (Bozcaada), in the northeastern part of the Sea. Various smaller islets off Turkey's western coast are also under Turkish sovereignty.

Most of the islands enjoy warm summer temperatures and cold winter temperatures, influenced by the Mediterranean climate.

Aegean Sea (theme)

The Theme of the Aegean Sea (Greek: θέμα τοῦ Αἰγαίου Πελάγους, thema tou Aigaiou Pelagous) was a Byzantine province in the northern Aegean Sea, established in the mid-9th century. As one of the Byzantine Empire's three dedicated naval themes (Greek: θέματα ναυτικᾶ), it served chiefly to provide ships and troops for the Byzantine navy, but also served as a civil administrative circumscription.

Aegean Sea Anti-Piracy Operations of the United States

Aegean Sea Anti-Piracy Operations began in 1825 when the United States government dispatched a squadron of ships to suppress Aegean Greek pirates. Due to the Greek civil wars and the decline of the Hellenic Navy, the Aegean quickly became a haven for pirates who sometimes doubled as privateers. American merchant vessels were attacked, so the Mediterranean Squadron began escort and patrol duties. The operations terminated in 1828 as piracy ceased.

Aegean Sea Plate

The Aegean Sea Plate (also called the Hellenic Plate or Aegean Plate) is a small tectonic plate located in the eastern Mediterranean Sea under southern Greece and far western Turkey. Its southern edge is a subduction zone south of Crete, where the African Plate is being swept under the Aegean Sea Plate. To the north is the Eurasian Plate, which is a divergent boundary responsible for the formation of the Gulf of Corinth.

Aegean dispute

The Aegean dispute is a set of interrelated controversial issues for decades between Greece and Turkey over sovereignty and related rights in the area of the Aegean Sea. This set of conflicts has had a large effect on Greek-Turkish relations since the 1970s. It has twice led to crises coming close to the outbreak of military hostilities, in 1987 and in early 1996. The issues in the Aegean fall into several categories:

The delimitation of the territorial waters,

The delimitation of the national airspace,

The delimitation of exclusive economic zones and the use of the continental shelf,

The delimitation of Flight Information Regions (FIR), and their significance for the control of military flight activity,

The issue of the demilitarized status assigned to some of the Greek islands in the area,

Turkish claims of "grey zones" of undetermined sovereignty over a number of small islets, most notably the islets of Imia/Kardak.Between 1998 and the early 2010's, the two countries had been coming closer to overcome the tensions through a series of diplomatic measures, particularly with a view to easing Turkey's accession to the European Union. However, as of 2018, differences over suitable diplomatic paths to a substantial solution are still unresolved.

Greek submarine Katsonis (Y-1)

Y-1 Katsonis (Greek: Y-1 Κατσώνης) was a Greek submarine active during the Second World War. Katsonis, together with her sister ship, Papanikolis, formed the first class of Greek submarines ordered after the First World War. The submarine was built at the Gironde Bordeaux shipyards between 1925–27, and commissioned into the Hellenic Navy on 8 June 1928. Her first captain was Cdr Κ. Arvanitis.

Gulf of Chania

The Gulf of Chania is an embayment of the Sea of Crete in the northwestern region of the island of Crete in present-day Greece. One headland forming the Gulf of Chania is the promontory known as the Akrotiri Peninsula.

List of Aegean Islands

This is a list of Aegean Islands. Except for Cunda, Uzunada, Rabbit Islands, Imbros, and Tenedos, which belong to Turkey, all these are Greek territory.

List of capes of Turkey

A cape (headland) (Turkish: burun) is a point of land extending into the sea. Turkey, being a country of two big peninsulas (Anatolia and Thrace) is surrounded by four seas and has many capes. The surrounding seas (counter-clockwise from the north) are Black Sea, Sea of Marmara, Aegean Sea and Mediterranean Sea.)

List of islands of Greece

Greece has a large number of islands, with estimates ranging from somewhere around 1,200 to 6,000, depending on the minimum size to take into account. The number of inhabited islands is variously cited as between 166 and 227.The largest Greek island by area is Crete, located at the southern edge of the Aegean Sea. The second largest island is Euboea, which is separated from the mainland by the 60m-wide Euripus Strait, and is administered as part of the Central Greece region. After the third and fourth largest Greek Islands, Lesbos and Rhodes, the rest of the islands are two-thirds of the area of Rhodes, or smaller.

The Greek islands are traditionally grouped into the following clusters: the Argo-Saronic Islands in the Saronic gulf near Athens; the Cyclades, a large but dense collection occupying the central part of the Aegean Sea; the North Aegean islands, a loose grouping off the west coast of Turkey; the Dodecanese, another loose collection in the southeast between Crete and Turkey; the Sporades, a small tight group off the coast of Euboea; and the Ionian Islands, chiefly located to the west of the mainland in the Ionian Sea. Crete with its surrounding islets and Euboea are traditionally excluded from this grouping.

List of islands of Turkey

This is a list of islands of Turkey. In the parentheses following the name of the island is the other/official name of the island. There are around 500 islands and islets in the Turkish seas.

List of peninsulas of Turkey

Turkey is a peninsular country; the country is located on two peninsulas; the Asiatic side is named as Anatolia, and European side is named as Thrace, on the Balkan peninsula. On these two main peninsulas there are secondary peninsulas.

Marmara Region

The Marmara Region (Turkish: Marmara Bölgesi) is a geographical region of Turkey.

Located in northwestern Turkey, it is bordered by Greece and the Aegean Sea to the west, Bulgaria and the Black Sea to the north, the Black Sea Region to the east, the Central Anatolia Region to the southeast and the Aegean Region to the south. At the center of the region is the Sea of Marmara, which gives the region its name.

Among the seven geographical regions, the Marmara Region has the second-smallest area, yet the largest population; it is the most densely populated region in the country.

Myrtoan Sea

The Myrtoan Sea (Greek: Mυρτώο Πέλαγος, Myrtoo Pelagos [mirˈto.o ˈpelaɣos]), also written as the Mirtoan Sea, is a subdivision of the Mediterranean Sea that lies between the Cyclades and Peloponnese. It is described as the part of the Aegean Sea south of Euboea, Attica, and Argolis. Some of the water mass of the Black Sea reaches the Myrtoan Sea, via transport through the Aegean Sea. (Saundry, Hogan & Baum. 2011)

The Saronic Gulf, the gulf of Athens, lies between the Corinth Canal and the Myrtoan Sea.

It is said to have been named after the mythical hero Myrtilus, who was thrown into this sea by an enraged Pelops. The name has also been connected with that of the maiden Myrto. It is also said to have derived its name from a small island named Myrtus.

Saronic Gulf

The Saronic Gulf (Greek: Σαρωνικός κόλπος, Saronikós kólpos) or Gulf of Aegina in Greece is formed between the peninsulas of Attica and Argolis and forms part of the Aegean Sea. It defines the eastern side of the isthmus of Corinth, being the eastern terminus of the Corinth Canal, which cuts across the isthmus.

Sea of Crete

The Sea of Crete (Greek: Κρητικό Πέλαγος, Kritiko Pelagos) or Cretan Sea, is a sea, part of the Aegean Sea, located in its Southern extremity. The sea stretches to the North of the island of Crete, East of the islands of Kythera and Antikythera, South of the Cyclades, and West of the Dodecanese islands of Rhodes, Karpathos and Kassos. The bounding sea to the West is the Ionian Sea. To the Northwest is the Myrtoan Sea, a subdivision of the Mediterranean Sea that lies between the Cyclades and Peloponnese. To the East-SE is the rest of the Mediterranean Sea, sometimes credited as the Levantine Sea. Across the island of Crete, to the opposite shore of it begins the Libyan Sea. Ferry routes to and from Piraeus and Heraklion, as well as the Southern islands of the Aegean and the Dodecanese, run in this area. Just off the coastline of Northeastern Crete the sea reaches a maximum depth of near 3,294 m (10,000 ft). Other sources (maps) show a maximum depth of 2,591 m. (8,500 ft).

Thracian Sea

The Thracian Sea (Greek: Θρακικό Πέλαγος, Thrakiko Pelagos; Turkish: Trakya Denizi) is a sea that is part of the Aegean Sea and forms the northernmost point of the sea. Regions surrounding the sea are Macedonia and Thrace as well as northwestern Turkey. The entire stretch of the sea lies north of the 40th parallel. The length from east to west is from 23°E to about 25.8°E or from the Strymonian Gulf east to the northernmost part of the Gallipoli peninsula and the width from north to south is about 40.25°N to 41°N or from the Dardanelles north to the boundary between the Xanthi and the Rhodope regional units. Islands includes Thasos and Samothrace in Greece and Gökçeada (Imvros in Greek) and Bozcaada (Tenedos in Greek) in Turkey. The bays and gulfs includes the Ierissian Gulf to the southwest, the Strymonian Gulf where the Strymon River empties, the Kavala Gulf and the Saros Gulf in Turkey. Rivers emptying into this portion of the gulf include the Nestos and the Evros/Meriç. The famous thermal springs are Loutra Eleftheron in Kavala.

Marginal seas of the Atlantic Ocean
Basins
Bays
Channels
Gulfs
Seas
Aegean Sea
Arctic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
Indian Ocean
Pacific Ocean
Southern Ocean
Endorheic basins

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