Thursday, December 01, 2005


Episkopi Bay may be strewn with ancient shipwrecks


The Cyprus Weekly
By Philippos Stylianou
November 29, 2005

The 3,400-year old Kyrenia wreck provides the
standard for evaluating other similar finds in the
sea of Cyprus.

THERE are no immediate plans to salvage ancient shipwrecks possibly lying on the bottom of the Episkopi Bay on the island’s southern coast, Director of Antiquities Pavlos Flourentzos said this week.

Asked by The Cyprus Weekly to comment on a continuing underwater survey in the area, which revealed potential shipwreck sites, he said that unless something was important and at least older than the famous 4th century Kyrenia wreck, the Department would leave it alone for the time being.

He explained that excavating and bringing up a submerged ancient wreck involved considerable expenses and efforts, especially as it would then have to be restored and preserved.

"If they are Roman or more recent they would just have to wait," Flourentzos said.
The only definite sightings so far concern the scattered debris of a 5th or 6th century merchantman in the small inlet of Avdimou Bay. But the use of more sophisticated equipment this year showed anomalies on the seabed of Episkopi Bay probably hiding shipwrecks underneath.

According to a recent Department of Antiquities release, the survey continued for the third season during July and August in the underwater area of Episkopi Bay and the Akrotiri Peninsula with a small international team of archaeologists and students. The project, which forms a contribution of the University of Cincinatti excavations at Episkopi-Bamboula, is logistically and financially supported by the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M University, the Cyprus Society for the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage (Limassol), and RPM Nautical Foundation (Florida, USA).

This year’s survey covered three main areas, one of them Dreamer’s Bay on Southern Akrotiri. At the site of a submerged anchorage littered with pottery, "several substantial new and revealing assemblages were added to the catalogue," the release said. The archaeologists also began a preliminary mapping of a long ashlar-built mole reported some years ago.

During the investigations in the inlet of Avdimou Bay two additional stone anchors were documented, along with three partial millstones that may have supplemented the ship’s primary cargo of wine carried in amphorae from the Gaza region of Palestine.

The survey in the wider sea area of Episkopi involved high resolution remote sensing, thanks to a grant of equipment and technical expertise by the RPM Nautical Foundation.

The anomalies on the seabed that could be potential shipwreck targets were detected by multi-beam sonar operations from the 37-metre research vessel Hercules.

Investigations during 2006 will focus on visual exploration of these targets through diving and remotely operated vehicle (ROV) work to determine which may be the remains of shipwrecks, the release said.


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