Aegean sea Where, how and when



Aegean sea

Aegean sea

Aegean Sea, Gr. Aigaion Pelagos, Turkish Ege Denizi, arm of the Mediterranean Sea, c.400 mi (640 km) long and 200 mi (320 km) wide, off SE Europe between Greece and Turkey; Crete and Rhodes mark its southern limit. Irregular in shape, it is dotted with islands, most of which belong to Greece; they include Évvoia, the Sporades, the Cyclades, Sámos, Khíos, Lesbos, Thásos, and the Dodecanese. The Aegean Sea’s greatest depths (more than 11,600 ft/3,540 m) are found E of Crete. The Dardanelles strait connects the Aegean Sea with the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea.

Sardines and sponges taken from the Aegean are economically important. There has been considerable tension between Greece and Turkey since the 1970s over oil deposits and mineral rights in the Aegean. The name Aegean has been variously derived from Aegae, a city of Évvoia; from Aegeus, father of Theseus, who drowned himself in the sea believing his son had been slain by the Minotaur; and from Aegea, an Amazon queen who drowned in it. The sea’s ancient name, Archipelago, now applies to its islands and, generally, to any island

group.

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 simply divided into seven groups:

  1. Northeastern Aegean Islands
  2. Euboea
  3. Northern Sporades
  4. Cyclades
  5. Saronic Islands (or Argo-Saronic Islands)
  6. Dodecanese (or Southern Sporades), with the exclusion of Kastelorizo
  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 and the South and moving clockwise include on Crete, the Mirabelli, Almyros, Souda and Chania bays or gulfs, on the mainland the Myrtoan Sea to the west, 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, Çandarlı Gulf, İzmir Gulf, Kuşadası Gulf, Gulf of Gökova, Güllük Gulf.

Extent

The International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the Aegean Sea as follows:[2]

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) in the Morea.

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

Hydrography
The cliffs in Santorini Island, Greece

Aegean surface water circulates in a counter-clockwise 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. The Black Sea outflow moves westward along the northern Aegean Sea, then flows southwards along the east coast of Greece.

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[4] of the Aegean during 1991 and 1992 revealed 3 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 (39.1–39.2%).

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, or after Aegea, a queen of the Amazons who died in the sea, or 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)), hence meaning “sea-shore”.

History
Historic map of Aegean Sea by Piri Reis

The current coastline dates back to about 4000 BC. Before that time, at the peak of the last ice age (c. 16,000 BC) 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 c. 7000 BC, with post-ice age sea levels continuing to rise for another 3,000 years after that.

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 Mycenean Civilization of the Peloponnese.
Aegeansea.jpg

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”.  The Aegean Sea was later invaded by the Persians and the Romans, and inhabited by the Byzantine Empire, the Bulgarians, the Venetians, the Genoeses, the Seljuq Turks, and the Ottoman Empire. 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.

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