Open: Shipwreck!

Posted: April 9, 2019

An ancient shipwreck near the Greek island of Alonissos is open for business! At least, it’s open for exploring.

The Peristera shipwreck will now become the first ancient shipwreck accessible to the public in Greece. Even folks who dive just for fun can swim up and take a peek!

Greece has a rich underwater heritage. But it has been hidden for a long time. Until now, mainly archaeologists have been allowed to explore it. Scuba diving was banned throughout Greece except in a few spots until 2005. Why? Officials feared divers might find ancient shipwrecked treasure . . . and steal it! And people still worry about looting. Many shipwrecks in Greece are still off-limits.

But that seems to be changing little by little. People even work on a new project to create underwater museums. Divers will be able to tour certain shipwrecks. Non-divers will experience the sites through virtual reality information centers on land.

The first of these sites is the Peristera shipwreck. It was discovered in the 1990s. The cargo ship held thousands of amphorae (vases). The amphorae probably contained wine. The ship sank in the late fifth century B.C.! Now fish, sponges, and other sea creatures make the vases their home. In some places, the ship’s cargo towers above divers as they swim by.

The wreck still holds mysteries. People have explored only a small part of it. Experts still don’t know why it sank. Did it catch fire? Did pirates attack it? Was it just carrying too much? Besides these mysteries, no one knows what treasures the shipwreck might hold. Amateur divers going down for a tour of Peristera are getting the opportunity of a lifetime—a chance to dive into history.

Divers visit the fifth century B.C. shipwreck on April 7. (AP Photo/Elena Becatoros)