Scuba diving was almost totally illegal in Greece until 2005, as authorities feared damage — or worse, theft — of the antique materials spread across the ocean floor. This policy seems to be changing gradually, as evidenced by a new program announced by Alternate Culture Minister Kostas Stratis, reported the Greek City Times.
"The goal is in the next two years to make the country's shipwrecks visitable, but also to provide important information and raise awareness about underwater monuments, such as the Peristera wreck off Alonissos," said Stratis at a two-day event announcing the plan, which will be part of the EU's Blue-Med program.
There are a total of four shipwreck sites divers will be able to tour through the project, which is funded by the European Commission.
The site is a spectacular vision for both archaeologists and divers because it contains thousands of amphora — containers typically made from ceramic dating back to as early as the Neolithic period — laid across the seabed. Questions remain on how the shipwreck occurred in the first place, but one thing is for sure: it has captivated the attention of researchers.
Dimitris Kourkoumelis, the lead archaeologist working on the site, remarked, "It is very impressive. Even I, who have been working for years in underwater archaeology, the first time I dived on this wreck I was truly impressed… It's different to see amphoras… individually in a museum and different to see them in such concentration."
The three other sites are located in the Pagasetic Gulf region. Organizers plan to have all the sites open for recreational diving by 2021.