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In Greece, a Shipwreck From 500 BCE Is Opening as an Underwater Museum

Greece News Museums Diving Archaeology
by Eben Diskin Jul 14, 2020

In June, Greece relaxed its rules to allow divers to explore archaeological sites, and starting on August 3, underwater enthusiasts will be able to see one of the most impressive sites in the country.

The Peristera shipwreck laid at the bottom of the Aegean Sea completely undiscovered until the early 1990s. It wasn’t until a fisherman found hundreds of wine jars floating off the coast of Alonissos island did anyone suspect there might be something of significance in the depths. A dive team explored the area and found a massive shipwreck, stretching for 82 feet. It was likely a large merchant ship from Athens, dating back to 500 BCE.

According to the Alonissos Triton Dive Center, “The Peristera shipwreck changed historians’ understanding of shipbuilding in the ancient world. Archaeologists originally thought that this type of shipbuilding originated with the Romans. The Peristera wreck proved that the Greeks were ahead of the Romans [by 400 years].”

The site has been closed to the public since its discovery, but next month it will open as an underwater museum that divers can visit. Starting on August 3, licensed guides will be taking divers from Alonissos to the shipwreck site, where they can go down 92 feet and explore it for themselves.

While the wooden shell of the ship has rotted away, plenty of cargo remains intact, such as 4,000 wine jars that colorful fish and sea sponges call home.

Diving excursions will be available until October 2 of this year, and will reopen again in summer 2021.

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