Feature: Greece seeks cooperation to build underwater archaeological parks
A picture taken on Nov.12, 2016 shows Methoni Bay in the southwest Greek municipality of Pylos-Nestoras. Two ships respectively carrying columns and stone coffins sank off Methoni during the Roman era. (Xinhua/Luo Na)
15 (Xinhua) — A city in southwest Greece, home to many archaeological findings, is seeking cooperation with local and foreign investors to create two underwater archaeological parks to protect antiquities and boost local tourism, a Greek official said on Sunday.
Dimitris Kafantaris, mayor of Pylos-Nestor municipality in the Peloponnese peninsula, said Pylos would be inviting tenders from investors in early 2017 to build the parks.
“The development of diving parks can contribute as an alternative type of tourism. Underwater archaeology can play a significant role in reviving Greece’s debt-wrecked economy,” said Angeliki Simosi, archaeologist and head of Greece’s Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities.
According to local authorities, the project is expected to contribute to shaping a new development model that ensures sustainability, exploiting the comparative advantages of Greece and Pylos in the sector of diving tourism.
Pylos has always been in the spotlight for underwater archaeology.
The city’s Navarino Bay was the battleground for two major naval wars. The first war took place during the Peloponnesian War in 425 BC, during which Athenians defeated a defending Spartan fleet. The second battle in 1827, which saw allied forces from Britain, France and Russia defeat Ottoman and Egyptian forces, led to the independence of Greece.
In 1980, a Greek tanker Irene Serenade sunk to the bottom of Navarino Bay.
“A particular point of interest is the modern wreck of the tanker Irene Serenade, as it is located within the marine archaeological area of the bay of Navarino,” Kafantaris added.
Near Methoni at the island of Sapienza, which is about 15 minutes’ drive from Pylos, there were two shipwrecks from the Roman era.
Cargo including sarcophagi and columns were found on the seabed.
Despite limited budget, underwater archaeology in Greece has made important progress, thanks to cooperation projects with foreign schools and institutions.
The Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities has cooperation projects across the country with the Trondheim University of Norway and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) from the United States, among many others.
In 2015, the Ephorate joined forces with the University of Patras and used new technological means to dig out more details regarding the geological features of the seabed in Methoni Bay and the two shipwrecks.
After advanced research in 2015, Simosi wants to create an underwater museum in Navarino Bay and Methoni, enabling visitors to see the submerged treasures in Pylos.
Simosi believes cooperation projects with other countries will facilitate the protection and exhibition of Greece’s underwater treasures and calls for cultural protection authorities in China to join research projects in Epidaurus, another city in Greece.
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