New survey to help set up Albania’s first underwater heritage museum

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times July 4, 2018 11:29

New survey to help set up Albania’s first underwater heritage museum

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  • Auron Tare, the head of the Albania's National Coastline Agency, says the new U.S.-Albanian mission will pave the way for a long-awaited museum of underwater cultural heritage that would give a boost to Albania’s emerging tourism industry, currently highly seasonal and coastal based

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TIRANA, July 4 – An archeological research vessel of the U.S.-based Institute of Nautical Archaeology has embarked on a mission to conduct a month-long coastal survey in Albanian waters, helping Albanian authorities in their bid to promote underwater cultural tourism and set up the country’s first museum that would feature ancient Roman and Greek artefacts as well as shipwrecks discovered in Albanian waters during the past decade.

Virazon II, the new archeological research vessel of Texas-based Institute of Nautical Archaeology, INA, reached southern Albanian waters this week on a mission to help archeologists investigate into the discovered ancient shipwrecks.

“In recent years, several shipwrecks have been discovered off the coast of Albania in the Adriatic Sea, though none has yet been investigated by archaeologists. The goal of this project is to survey these sites, recording conditions using video and photogrammetry, and assess their suitability for future excavation efforts,” says INA about its 2018 Albania project.

Auron Tare, the head of the Albania’s National Coastline Agency, says the new mission will pave the way for a long-awaited museum of underwater cultural heritage that would give a boost to Albania’s emerging tourism industry, currently highly seasonal and coastal based.

“After a successful decade by the Hercules ship of the U.S. RPM Nautical Foundation, the Virazon II vessel has arrived in our waters. This ship owned by Institute of Nautical Archeology in Texas specializes in underwater research and will support discoveries made to date with specialized photographing and digital maps as well as future real archeological research which will pave the way for the establishment of an underwater heritage museum,” Tare has said.

In a meeting held this week in Tirana, archeologists reiterated their appeal to Albanian authorities to protect underwater discoveries from looting and accelerate plans for a museum that would showcase the discovered items.

“The meeting was an effort to raise public awareness on the great importance of Albania’s underwater cultural heritage, which is still an unknown field in Albania. That’s why we invited some of the best underwater researchers from the Texas Institute and the RPM Foundation which has been our partner for 12 years now to publicly share all the important discoveries in Albanian waters and to stress the fact that Albania has historically been part of the ancient civilization crossroads and shed light on new facts on the ships discovered to date and to explain the great importance they have in explaining the history of those coasts,” said Tare.

Scanning the southern Albanian waters along the Riviera coastline during the past decade, a U.S.-Albanian expedition supported by the RPM Nautical Foundation has discovered numerous amphoras and artefacts including ancient Greek, Roman, medial and modern finds. Dozens of wreck sites including warships and armoured vehicles have also been discovered.

Back in 2007, the mission discovered an ancient shipwreck near the waters of Butrint archeological park, a UNESCO World Heritage site in southern Albania, before tracing a giant cargo ship believed to have sunk during World War II in the waters of Karaburun peninsula, Vlora, four years later.

Pending legislation to regulate underwater heritage, a map has been submitted to police to prevent diving and possible looting and trafficking of artefacts in the areas where discoveries have been made.

The archeological finds that include sunken ships date back from the 4th century B.C. to until World War II, are also helping reconnect current historical facts regarding Illyria, the territory and origin of much of modern day Albania.

“The finds show ancient sources are in contradiction to what we are finding underwater. The coastline of ancient Illyria was not only populated by pirate population, but the fact that many commercial ships loaded with wine, cooking oil and other products were discovered near our coast shows of a trade exchange between Illyria and other Mediterranean regions,” Tare has earlier said.

 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times July 4, 2018 11:29