The Department of Antiquities announces the discovery of an ancient shipwreck in the sea off Protaras, Cyprus. The site was reported by Mr Spyros Spyrou and Mr Andreas Kritiotis, both volunteer divers of the underwater archaeological research team of the Maritime Archaeological Research Laboratory (MARELab), Archaeological Research Unit, of the University of Cyprus. The Department of Antiquities acted immediately after the report, in order to secure the necessary funds to cover the cost of the preliminary in situ investigation, as soon as possible.
A team of MARELab archaeologists, students and volunteers, led by the Associate Professor of Maritime Archaeology, Dr Stella Demesticha, is already in the area. The team is working on the documentation and protection of the site, in collaboration with the Associate Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering and Geoinformatics of the Cyprus University of Technology, Dr Dimitris Skarlatos, and the Conservator at the Department of Antiquities, Ms Eleni Loizides.
The site is a wreck of a Roman ship, loaded with transport amphorae, most probably from Syria and Cilicia. It is the first undisturbed Roman shipwreck ever found in Cyprus, the study of which is expected to shed new light on the breadth and the scale of seaborne trade between Cyprus and the rest of the Roman provinces of the eastern Mediterranean.
This project also marks a milestone for Cypriot archaeology, because it is the first time that an underwater archaeological project is fully funded by the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Works.
The Department of Antiquities and the Archaeological Research Unit of the University of Cyprus express their deep appreciation and thanks to Mr Spyros Spyrou and Mr Andreas Kritiotis for immediately reporting their discovery to the authorities. Sincere thanks are, also, owed to all volunteers and supporters of this project, which was organized on a very short notice. The Department would also like to thank diverse institutions and individuals for their generosity and collaboration on this project. This enthusiastic mobilization of authorities and citizens around an important archaeological site sends optimistic messages regarding the protection of cultural heritage by the Cyprus society.