Great news for European divers: starting Monday, August 3, an underwater archaeological museum located near the islet of Peristera, in the Aegean Sea, will be open to recreational scuba divers.
Dubbed “the Parthenon of shipwrecks,” this unique dive site contains the wreck of a 5th century BC vessel that carried a cargo of hundreds of amphorae of wine. The wine most likely came from Peparithos (today’s Skopelos) and Mendi (ancient city of Halkidiki), two areas renowned for their quality wine. It is believed that the large merchant ship, probably Athenian, may have sunk due to bad weather around 425 BC.
The wreck lies in 21-28 meters (69-92 feet) of water with over 3,000 amphorae scattered all over the area. The amphorae had been used by the ancient Greeks to transport wine. A local fisherman from the nearby Alonissos Island discovered the ancient containers in 1985. Much to everyone’s surprise, most of them are still well-preserved.
“The amphorae are revealing the form of the ancient ship. This has been a big ship”, says Pari Kalamara, director of the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities.
The impressive number of amphorae, the excellent condition of the shipwreck, and the rich waters located within the protected area of the National Marine Park Alonissos, in the Northern Sporades, make the ancient shipwreck of Peristera a wonderful destination for experienced scuba divers.
Peristera Island’s underwater archeological museum will be open until October 2. Diving is possible through tours from licensed dive operators. But both divers and non-divers can learn more about Peristera and its wreck by taking the virtual reality tour offered by the information center in the main town of Alonissos.
As part of the local authorities’ plan to create an attractive diving park for traveling scuba divers, several other underwater archaeological sites in various parts of Greece are set to open this year.
Image Source: AP Photo/Elena Becatoros