The wreck of a Roman ship loaded with amphorae has been found in the sea off Protaras, the Department of Antiquities announced on Thursday.
“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,” the Department of Antiquities said.
The discovery was reported by Spyros Spyrou and 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 said that it 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, Eleni Loizides.
This project 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 noted.
The Department of Antiquities and the Archaeological Research Unit of the University of Cyprus have expressed their deep appreciation and thanks to Spyrou and Kritiotis for immediately reporting their discovery to the authorities.
Sincere thanks are, also, owed to all volunteers and supporters of the project, which was organised at very short notice, it added.
“The Department would also like to thank diverse institutions and individuals for their generosity and collaboration on this project. This enthusiastic mobilisation of authorities and citizens around an important archaeological site sends optimistic messages regarding the protection of cultural heritage by the Cyprus society,” it concluded.