Archaeologists Urge Albania to Protect Underwater Greek, Roman Treasures

Archaeologists have warned Albania to protect from looters Greek and Roman ancient artifacts from shipwrecks off the country’s coastline.

According to a New York Post report, James Goold, chairman of the Florida-based RPM Nautical Foundation, a non-profit organization said that underwater objects dating from the 8th century BC through to World War II would be a great tourist attraction if properly displayed in a museum.

The report says that RPM has mapped out the Ionian seabed from the Greek border all along to the Vlora Bay, finding at least 22 shipwrecks from the ancient times to World War II and hundreds of ancient amphorae.

Some of the artifacts may have already been looted. Ancient amphorae have been seen decorating restaurants along the Albanian coastline.

RPM’s Hercules research vessel appeared in the Albanian waters 11 years ago. Along with a joint Albanian-Italian expedition are the only scientific underwater efforts in Albania so far, both with the government’s approval.

The New York Post report says that RPM believes it’s time for the non-profit Institute of Nautical Archaeology research organization, which is based in Texas, to explore the possibilities of excavating shipwrecks such as the ones off Albania.

“There’s a special environment in Albania, because the coast has been so protected for so many years,” said INA’s David Ruff, adding that “one of the real gems of Albania is the Butrint site”, a UNESCO-protected ancient Greek and Roman site in southernmost Albania, close to the Greek border.

Ruff said INA’s Virazon II research vessel will stay for a month in Albanian waters to see if it is possible to run a large-scale underwater excavation.