News & Opinion | April 11, 2019 5:00 am

Greece Opens 2000-Year-Old Shipwreck to Divers

Anybody can explore parts of the underground museum.

Underwater Images Of The Numidia Shipwreck Off The Coast Of Egypt
Recreational divers will be allowed to explore the Peristera shipwreck from 5 B.C. (Andrey Nekrasov/Barcroft Images /Getty Images)
Barcroft Media / Contributor

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The underwater museum might be a thing of the future if more countries follow Greece’s lead.

The country has started allowing divers to explore a sunken cargo ship off the island of Alonissos, including recreational divers. On land, non-divers will be able to explore the ship that sank sometime around the 5th century B.C., and wasn’t discovered until the early-1990s, using virtual reality. It’s a whole new way to explore history that has been otherwise off-limits to most people.

“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,” Dimitris Kourkoumelis, the lead archaeologist on the project preparing the site for visitors, told the AP.

While the ship is still being researched — experts still haven’t been able to pinpoint why it sank and nobody can figure out what was held in the 4,000 amphoras the ship was transporting — the site will allow curious divers who might not hold PhDs to explore what ancient ships look like. To see it, divers will need to go 22-28 meters (72-92 feet) below the sea, and the first run of recreational and professional divers already visited the site last weekend.

Kostas Menemenoglou, a 39-year-old from Greece who was one of the first recreational divers to see the ship, told the AP the experience was, “really like diving into history.”

For those thinking of visiting, Alonissos is considered by some to be one of the most overlooked destinations in Greece. With beautiful beaches, great hiking routes and ferries that take two hours to get back to the mainland, the sunken ship might change its overlooked status.