Friday, June 09, 2006


Titanic explorer to seek shipwrecks in Aegean: Greek officials

June 08, 2006

The explorer who discovered the Titanic's resting place is to undertake a search for ancient shipwrecks off the southern Greek island of Crete, the Greek foreign ministry said Thursday.

The search, by American oceanographer Robert Ballard, will be conducted in international waters, with the Greek culture ministry hoping to send a representative to observe operations, a ministry official said.

"Deep-sea research will be conducted in the area between Santorini and Crete, for the purpose of locating (ancient) Mediterranean sea trade routes, recording ancient shipwrecks etc," culture ministry general secretary Christos Zahopoulos told a news conference this week.

"The necessary steps are being taken so that the culture ministry can participate in this research," he said.

In 2002, the culture ministry's undersea antiquities department had cautioned the Greek authorities against collaborating with Ballard on another shipwreck project, according to a recent report in the Eleftherotypia daily.

"There is the risk of involvement in an operation...which could turn into a treasure hunt...concerning other ancient shipwrecks," department head Katerina Dellaporta wrote in a memo to the ministry, published by the newspaper.

"We are vigilant, but not worried," senior archaeologist Vivi Vassilopoulou, head of the Greek culture ministry's department of classical antiquities, told AFP.

"I don't think anyone will deny (Greece's) request (regarding observation) there is the possibility of an archaeology-related discovery that would demand the ministry's participation," she said.

According to the foreign ministry, Ballard's ship Endeavor will begin the expedition upon the completion of a separate geology project currently in progress near the Greek island of Santorini.


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