Alexander the Great sunken treasure ships in the Black Sea

Jul 2017
When the Macedonian greeks under Alexander the Great went on their victorios quest, to conquer the known and the not so known ancient world, much like the Spanish and the Portuguese in the New World, the would transfer the newly acquired loot back to the mother country.

Ships or caravans under military convoy were sent back to Macedonia. I have read long ago about one such convoy,laiden with gold, silver and gems, that was lost in the stormy waters of the Black Sea. Alexander's general Lysimachus was tasked with the transfer of wealth back to Macedonia.

Turkey's Black Sea coast may have been the logical route.We might assume, that roman and greek ships would usually sail within 1-2 miles of the coast and that's where most sunken ships are found today in that region.

Technically today, such finds belong to the country where the treasure was located, with finders fee probably going to the marine archaeologists that discover specific treasure ships. We are not talking about a pot of gold, but maybe 2-3 ships with loot.

What, if the find is...say..100 bln or more and we reach.. must have..dilemma ?What does
international maritime law rules are ?
Do we have lawyers on here to clear out the fog ?

Some links below on recent ancient finds
Jul 2017
There was a book I read, about 11 years ago that was the only source on Alexander's lost treasure fleet.Must have been a French or Italian author.It mentions vaguely the fate of the Macedonian loot of Egypt, Phoenicia, Persia, its satrapies, looted treasures from India too.

It was pointed out, that a Black Sea route was chosen, due to fear of pirates in the Mediterranean, plus Carthaginians as well.
All I can find online is the second link above, pertaining to the Kingdom of Carbona ( Karvuna ), where further down in the piece
is also mentioned in between the lines the lost treasure.

Medieval Kaliakra fortress is also the capital city of Lysimachus - king( diadochi) of Thrace, Asia Minor and Macedonia. The link on Kaliakra says incorrectly, that the whole fleet went down in the area of Kaliakra, while the book I read points to the coastline of
Turkey as more suitable point for the loss of the flotilla.

The authors of the book blame Lysimachus for overloading the ships, thus making them vulnerable to the violent storms often
present in the Black Sea and most likely scenario for the precious cargo to go under. Kaliakra is only the final destination where the survivors made it safe, the fateful spot of the sinking of the loot is...on the way to Lysimachus' capital.

If and when that incalculable treasure from the ancient world is found some day, it will be a thing for the ages. Owning a treasure throve of this magnitude will pay off Turkey's foreign debt and still have money left to buy nukes from the Russians, along with all the items on Erdogan's wish list to be one of the big boys of the world.

What would NATO do, if that were to become reality some day ?

Dan Howard

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
The reason why you can't find any credible information on this subject is because it never existed. Yes they sent loot back to Macedonia but it didn't consist of gems and precious metal. Most of that was kept to pay the army, buy supplies, and to establish settlements. The shipments were an ongoing event - lots of small convoys each containing a small percentage of the total loot. The ships would return with reinforcements.
Last edited:
Jul 2017
You are making several good observations. That said, Strabo writes about Lysimachus' capital in Kaliakra and also points to the king's immense wealth stored in caves around the capital city.
As to Alexander looting the ancient world, Justin, Plutarch, Diodorus Siculus, Arrian describe his plunder as "immeasurable wealth"
Those are the ancient scribes. Let's see how much this treasure is estimated at today's dollars.

Professor of history at the University of Texas- Houston, Frank Holt estimates the total plunder at 11 Trillion dollars - the highest in world's history. From his calculations we can see that ordinary soldier was being paid 2-3 drahmas a day, with monthly salary of
about $ 4000 and yearly stipend of 3 silver talents worth $ 14200 each. Salary alone for a humble private - $ 90000 a year.

In 2017 dollars, 1 silver drahma is equal to $ 45-46, and 1 gold talent is $ 26Mln. Atop of that base salary with each fallen city, the soldiers of the phalanx are given 1-2 days to loot for themselves and in the case of Persepolis the troops have 5 days window to plunder.Alexander is extremely generous and by yeach year's end hikes the bonus from 3000 gold talents in the beginning of the campaign to 9000 gold talents for the troops, plus forgiveness of all debt.

Figures of upwards of 300K-350K in total take for the lowest soldiers, year per year is realistic. Here's is prof Holt's reasoning and calculations on the loot.

Guess on the value of all loot taken by Alexander the Great

More on the finances at that time

Alexander the Great: a very competent expert in finances - Archaeology Wiki

Value of 1 ancient Greek drachma and 1 Athenian Talent