• Welcome to ScubaBoard


  1. Welcome to ScubaBoard, the world's largest scuba diving community. Registration is not required to read the forums, but we encourage you to join. Joining has its benefits and enables you to participate in the discussions.

    Benefits of registering include

    • Ability to post and comment on topics and discussions.
    • A Free photo gallery to share your dive photos with the world.
    • You can make this box go away

    Joining is quick and easy. Login or Register now by clicking on the button

Underwater "museum" in Peristera / Greece

Discussion in 'General Europe' started by stepfen, Dec 3, 2020.

  1. stepfen

    stepfen ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Greece
    704
    511
    93
    Few days ago I attended a webinar from a lady working for our Archeological Department of our Ministry of Culture. The webinar was about underwater museums, a concept recently introduced here in Greece. For now only one such museum has opened: the Peristera's ship wreck museum.

    You can see some info about the wreck eg here:
    Peristera: Greece’s first underwater museum

    Practically what can be seen is around 4000 amphora scattered around. Amphora were used as the container to transport goods back in the ancient times. They were used to transport things like seeds to olive oil, wine etc. One part of the wreck near its' center has been excavated (amphora removed) to see what lies below. Pieces of wood nails and other parts of the ship itself were revealed there. There it was also revealed for first time how people were stacking the amphora for transport in this kind of ships during that times. Amphora use to have conical bottoms. The bottom of the ship's hold had a structure with holes where the the lower row of amphora was placed. As they were placed next to each other they were forming holes between their "necks" where the bottoms of the next amphora row were stacked. Three to four such rows were formed in the hold of the ship. That way everything was fixed preventing it from moving and/or breaking during the voyage.

    The concept of the underwater museum is quite interesting, but also quite limiting for people who are used to dive/roam "free" shipwrecks. The reason is that these wrecks date back to antiquity (this particular one around 500BC! ) and they haven't been (or simply can't be) fully excavated. Hence a lot of treasures (coins, jewelries, statues, and other artifacts) are most probably still in or around them. Last thing we want is people to go looting them.

    Hence in order for a wreck to be "open" to public the site needs to be monitored. This was implemented by a novel project. Here is the website of the surveillance project:
    NOUS -
    5 underwater cameras and few top side ones are monitoring the site 24/7 relaying the data to those interested. The system is solar powered because the site is quite remote. Automatic image recognition software is used to recognize "intruders" and notify authorities. On the website above I think one of the 5 cameras is live and free to watch - although I have seen it only during night hours and hence not much can be seen.

    For visiting the site, the dives need to be arranged with a dive shop. Any dive shop can dive there with only few requirements. Max 8 divers/customers per group with 2 dive guides - only one group in the water a time. At least one dive guide per group needs to be certified by our Ministry of Culture. It is supposed to be a seminar that whoever (professional) wants can attend - I think for free at least for now.

    A lot of historical details and what is going to be seen are discussed in the briefing with the divers. Then during the dive the divers are brought around the wreck (at a safe distance but still quite near it) - luckily the wreck is surrounded by a sandy patch followed by endless posidonia fields. There are 5 or so highlight spots were divers can see more details.

    Coincidentally the wreck is located within the boundaries of one of our marine parks (i.e. no fishing is allowed nearby) hence apart from the wreck itself sea life can be quite interesting in the area.

    This year the project was open only for few months (I think July to early October) partly due to the Covid, but the plan is for it to be open from Easter holidays to late October or so every year, of course Covid permiting.

    For now (and the next couple of years which is supposed to be the pilot/trial period) there is no ticket/price to enter the site. Only whatever the dive op charges. Later a ticket of around 10 euros a day (or dive don't remember) might be imposed.

    There are another few (3 to 5 I think) other wrecks where the same concept is being prepared. They plan to have the new museums running from 2023 onwards (although that being Greece don't take this as granted).

    I think it is an interesting project. Feels quite limited, but the other option was not to be able to visit such places at all. Remember in Greece diving was banned all together up to 2005 due to the fear of people destroying such wrecks. Having such museums is much better I think than not having anything at all.

    I think people might find this interesting - that's why I share it with you.

    All the best!
     
    Christozs and jborg like this.
  2. wetb4igetinthewater

    wetb4igetinthewater Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Seattle
    4,769
    3,087
    113
    @stepfen

    Just curious as to why any ancient wrecks cannot be excavated? I understand cost is an issue. It isn't easy to put together a team of saturation divers with the support infrastructure for a hiliariko (that was the 1000 drachma note for the non-Greeks). There's a deep shipwreck project in Malta (anyone with more intimate information please correct any misinformation I write) where they use rebreathers to pick up a few pieces every year. Needless to say, this is a looooong project.

    It is my understanding that Dr. Koutsoflakis's project in Fourni, uses volunteer, open circuit divers. But that is at recreational depths. There is the Fiskardo wreck off Kefalonia, and Dr. Ferentinos (one of the marine geology professors from the University of Patras who accidentally discovered it in 2013/4) who suggested to turn that into a dive park, but I don't believe it is practical, as that wreck starts at 60 meters.

    I met with Dr. Koutsoflakis in his office in Athens in early November before the lockdown occurred, and he told me that one of the problems Greece has is not enough museum space to house all the antiquities that has been excavated and studied (and thus ready for display).

    About the Peristera wreck, do you know if photography is allowed? I don't have a copy of the Greek law for that (just on the discovery/reward for reporting ancient shipwrecks).
     
  3. jborg

    jborg Lurker ScubaBoard Sponsor

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Sweden
    93
    96
    18
    That's nice. As a child of two archeologists with a penchant for Greece I remember being dragged along to museums to look at ancient pottery. Now as an adult I wouldn't mind doing so myself underwater. :)
     
  4. stepfen

    stepfen ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Greece
    704
    511
    93
    Some do get excavated. Eg the Antikithera wreck is being excavated, but VERY slowly. Look here: Return to Antikythera
    It takes a lot of time and money.... I think they use to have 2 sessions (spring and autumn) per year for maybe 1-2 weeks at a time. A couple of years ago there were some problems with politics and the institutes involved hence they have stopped for some time now, but the project is supposed to carry on. Sorry I don't know much more than that. The owner of the local dive store (Nikos Giannoulakis) was part of the excavating team there for a couple of years and that's how I know these.

    During the presentation there was a question whether photographers/videographers can visit the site to make promotion videos/photos for exhibitions etc or not. She said that for personal i.e. not-for-profit use photography and video is allowed. She then added that for promoting (which is considered for profit i.e. business use) there are videos and pictures that can be obtained (I think for free if it is for promoting) through the ministry.
    Now, although she didn't mention it specifically but I'd guess (that's solely my guess) for business use permits can be obtained (or should I say bought?) just like for any other museum or archeological site. Procedure should be a bit complicated but for sure doable.

    @wetb4igetinthewater if you want I can try to get you in contact with her for more details. Her name is Despina Koutsoumpa (Δέσποινα Κουτσούμπα) - maybe you can find her in facebook or so or ask Thalassa Diving Academy who were the organizers of the event for her contact details.

    Let me know if I can help you more ...
     
  5. wetb4igetinthewater

    wetb4igetinthewater Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Seattle
    4,769
    3,087
    113
    @stepfen

    I'll send you a DM, as there are things I cannot publicly discuss.
     

Share This Page