(Public domain images).

Archaeologists urge Albania to protect underwater heritage

TIRANA, Albania — Researchers are urging Albanian authorities to build a museum to display hundreds of Roman and Greek artifacts and ancient shipwrecks that are sitting under the country’s barely explored coastline.

Archaeologists at the Albanian Underwater Archaeology conference warned Tuesday that the wealth of underwater artifacts in the country’s southwestern seabed, near its border with Greece, could easily fall prey to looters or treasure hunters.

James Goold, chairman of the Florida-based RPM Nautical Foundation, said the objects — dating from the 8th century B.C. through to World War II — would be a great tourist attraction if properly displayed.

Goold’s RPM has mapped out the Ionian seabed from the Greek border all along to the Vlora Bay, finding at least 22 shipwrecks from the ancient times to World War II and hundreds of ancient amphorae. Those long, narrow terracotta vessels carried olive oil and wine along trade routes between North Africa and the Roman Empire, where Albania, then Illyria, was a crossroad.

“The time has come to build a museum for Albanian and foreign tourists,” said Albanian archaeologist Neritan Ceka.

Some amphorae may have already been looted — they are not infrequently seen decorating restaurants along the Albanian coastline.

Albania is trying to protect and capitalize on its rich underwater heritage, long neglected by its former communist regime, but preservation still receives scarce funding from the government in one of Europe’s poorest nations.

The arrival of RPM’s Hercules research vessel 11 years ago was “a real revolution,” Ceka said, praising its professional divers, high-tech sonar and remotely operated underwater vehicle.

RPM and a joint Albanian-Italian expedition are the only scientific underwater efforts in Albania so far, both with the government’s approval.

Now RPM believes it’s time for the not-for-profit Institute of Nautical Archaeology research organization, which is based in Texas, U.S., to explore the possibilities of excavating shipwrecks, a financially expensive and scientifically delicate process.

“There’s a special environment in Albania, because the coast has been so protected for so many years,” said INA’s David Ruff, a former commander of a nuclear-powered submarine.

Ruff said “one of the real gems of Albania is the Butrint site” — a UNESCO-protected ancient Greek and Roman site in southernmost Albania close to the Greek border.

He said INA’s Virazon II research vessel will stay for a month in Albanian waters “to understand the coast of Albania and if we can run a large-scale excavation here.”

___

Follow Llazar Semini on Twitter https://twitter.com/lsemini

Llazar Semini, The Associated Press

Just Posted

Two Central Alberta school districts pay to prepare grads for diploma exams

Clearview and Wolf Creek want all Grade 12 students to Rock the Diplomas

Red Deer hotel hosts Christmas Wish Breakfast

Third-annual event is on Nov. 18

Red Deer tow truck drivers want blue flashing lights

To improve safety while working near roads

Fashion Fridays: 5 coats you need this winter!

Kim XO, lets you know the best online shopping tips during Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Kapanen’s 2 goals lead Maple Leafs past Sharks 5-3

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Kasperi Kapanen scored his second goal of the… Continue reading

Price shines as Canadiens score twice in third period to rally past Flames

CALGARY — In a duel of struggling goaltenders, one returned to vintage… Continue reading

Quebec literary prize on hold after Amazon sponsorship controversy

MONTREAL — A prestigious Quebec literary prize has been suspended amid public… Continue reading

‘No limits:’ Ill-Abilities breakdance crew teams up with Les Grands Ballets

MONTREAL — Luca ‘Lazylegz’ Patuelli’s crutches become an extension of his arms… Continue reading

One month after legalization, illicit cannabis shops doing brisk business

TORONTO — The three surveillance cameras and the steady flow of people… Continue reading

Lowry has strong words for Raptors’ lack of communication after loss

TORONTO — Raptors coach Nick Nurse might not have had a good… Continue reading

S. Korea’s ‘Garlic Girls’ accuse coaches of derailing team

SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — The Garlic Girls, South Korea’s hugely popular… Continue reading

Most Read