The Ancient Past: Now Open for Exploration!

By Ross J. Robertson

Photo: Yiannis Issaris

If you ever dreamt of adding a bona fide ancient Greek shipwreck to your logbook, then read on! Banned since its discovery over three decades ago, the 2,400 year old Peristera wreck is soon to be open to recreational divers .

aThis was never going to be’ merely another dive .’ The anticipation alone had already induced it special. I had been dreaming of being granted access to the Peristera shipwreck for a very, very long time.a A

Kostas Menemenoglou’s remark perfectly encapsulates the feeling of many recreational divers from both Greece and abroad. Despite being at a depth of only 82 feet( 25 metres ), this ancient 5th century BC wreck is situated in a marine park which limits the opportunity. Moreover, it is illegal to dive any archeological site in Greece without having first ploughed through a mountain of bureaucratic red tape to attain explicit permission. Since its accidental discovery in 1985 by angler Dimitris Mavrikis, the Peristera wreck has, hence, been strictly off limits to all but a few lucky archeologists.A

However, according to UNESCO, the United Nation body which is responsible for the protection of underwater cultural heritage, allowing access to sites makes aprotection more valuable, less exclusive and better understood.a In this vein, the European Union’s BlueMed program and the Greek Minister of Culture have proposed a new initiative to promote marine tourism and’ Underwater Museums’.

So, somewhat unexpectedly, Kosta was to finally get his chance. He was among a select group of recreational and professional divers permitted access to the Peristera wreck for two days in April. Thi

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