The Department of Antiquities of the Republic of Cyprus announced on Thursday that a major maritime archaeological discovery has been made off the east coast of the island, just off Protaras, near Larnaca.
The Antiquities Department statement says the wreck “is the first undisturbed Roman shipwreck ever found off 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.”
The Department believes that the wreck is that of an ancient Roman ship, which had been loaded with transport amphorae, or pottery vases, most probably from ancient Syria and Cilicia.
The discovery of the wreck was reported by Spyros Spyrou and Andreas Kritiotis, both volunteer divers with the underwater archaeological research team of the Maritime Archaeological Research Laboratory (MARELab).
MARELab belongs to the Archaeological Research Unit of the University of Cyprus.
The announcement stressed that ”The Department of Antiquities acted immediately after it was reported, in order to secure the necessary funds to cover the cost of the preliminary in situ investigation as soon as possible.”
A team of archaeologists belonging to MARELab, along with students and volunteers, all led by Associate Professor of Maritime Archaeology Dr. Stella Demesticha, is already at Protaras.
The team is now working on the documentation and protection of the site, in collaboration with Dr. Dimitris Skarlatos, Associate Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering and Geoinformatics of Cyprus’ University of Technology. Dr. Eleni Loizides, a Conservator from the Department of Antiquities is also working at the site of the wreck.
This project also marks a milestone for Cypriot archaeology, because this is the first time that an underwater archaeological project has been fully funded by the country’s Ministry of Transport, Communications and Works.
Cypriot authorities expressed their gratitude to the two individuals who first discovered the shipwreck, Spyros Spyrou and Andreas Kritiotis, for immediately reporting their discovery to them.