With summer slowly but surely arriving and the easing of travelling rules in Europe we can finally allow ourselves to dream of adventures. This year we have a suggestion for you to help to finally escape from reality and experience fascinating trips full of incredible discoveries: Archeology sea diving!
When having vacations on the Mediterranean, we tend to think of the most picturesque villages and beautiful beaches. Still, we do not always realize that we can get acquainted with the history and culture of countries not only on land but also underwater!
With its velvet-turquoise waters, the Mediterranean Sea divides three parts of the world. It unites two continents, remaining a place where different cultures, nations and religions have met for millennia. The Etruscans, Greeks and Romans, on their ships, laid the first trade routes in the Mediterranean sea that literally means "middle of the earth" sea. Events long forgotten or not even described in history textbooks are still visible on the bottom of the sea.
Here are Top 7 locations where your adventure dreams will come true:
The Underwater Archaeological Museum is located a few kilometres from Naples in southern Italy in the Phlegrean Fields, an area with an underground volcanic activity called bradyseism. It is a result of such vibrations of the earth's crust that the ancient Italian commercial city of Baia has sunk under the sea. The centre of the old city is located 100 meters from the coast of Pozzuoli Bay. The depth of the sunken town reaches from 3 to 15 meters. During the dive, you can see fragments of villas with mosaic floors, ports and streets, as well as several antique statues that have proudly guarded this place for centuries.
The ruins of Pavlopetri lie at a depth of three meters off the southern coast of Greece. According to archaeologists, it is about 5,000 years old. The city was the centre of the textile industry and had an important trading port. The foundations of houses and streets of the underwater city have survived to this day.
The underwater museum was created on the spot where the ship sank in 425 BC. It is located at a depth of 28 m near the islet of Peristera, in the National Marine Park of Alonissos and the Northern Sporades. The ship carried tableware for the luxurious banquets of the time, about 4,000 wine amphorae, many of which remain on the underwater seabed.
Twenty-five kilometres from Alexandria in the Gulf of Aboukir at a depth of 50 meters lies the lost city-port of Heracleion - the gateway to Egypt. For a long time, the story about Heracleion was considered a legend. However, Herodotus mentioned it in the 5th century BC as the city where Elena the Beautiful and her beloved Paris fled to escape the wrath of Menelaus, Elena's husband. The finds, discovered by underwater archaeologists with the supervision of the Frenchman Frank Godet, amaze with their diversity: the main temple of the city, 5-meter statues, more than 60 ancient ships and even several buildings, as well as numerous sarcophagi and mummies of various animals, gold coins and jugs, wine cups, bowls. Some of the artefacts were raised on land, and some remain at the bottom of the sea.
Near the Maltese island of Gozo, at a depth of 120 meters, rests a Phoenician merchant ship that sank 2,700 years ago. This is one of the oldest finds in the Mediterranean. Archaeologists determined its age by the shape of amphorae and lava stones for turning grain. The galley was mainly covered with silt and sand over the centuries.
At a depth of 10 m lie the ruins of a village dating back to 8000 BC. It is one of the best-preserved prehistoric settlements. On the seabed, underwater archaeologists discovered a well, the remains of rectangular houses. According to data compiled by the Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, the village was suddenly abandoned by locals due to an impending 40-meter tsunami that covered coastal Mediterranean cities in a matter of hours. It, in turn, was caused by the volcanic collapse of part of Mount Etna.
An underwater museum of modern art opened a year ago near the island of Sainte-Marguerite and Cannes. At a depth of three meters, there are 2-meter sculptures - portraits of Cannes residents of different ages and professions. The author of the works is the British underwater artist Jason DeCare Taylor. These portraits or "masks" also remind of the 17th-century history of the prisoner in the Iron Mask, imprisoned on the island of Sainte-Marguerite.
From Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, Nice, Antibes, Cannes, Saint-Rafael, Saint-Tropez, Toulon to Marseille, the coastal waters are full of amphorae and vases from the Roman Empire, sunken ships of the Renaissance and Enlightenment, planes and ships from the First and Second World Wars. Ancient cutlery and coins from the 19th century can still be found in the sea off the coast of Nice after a storm. Rumour has it that Napoleon's own ship is located in the waters near the lighthouse on the Cap-Ferrat peninsula.
Take only photos, leave only bubbles, keep only memories, not kill anything but time.
To know how much it cost and how long it takes to enjoy the trip, I asked a diver with 20 years of diving experience, Diego Sorrenti:
"Even though you have such riches at sea, you still have limitations on finding them, such as dive depth and exploration cost. For example, one dive to a depth of 100 meters costs 300 euros. It will take one hour, only 10 minutes, which you can spend at the bottom; the rest of the time will be spent on decompression. Moreover, if you dive to a depth of more than 50-60 meters, then you need a certain gas - more expensive helium (at great depths, oxygen and nitrogen become toxic and can lead to sad consequences). "
Going deep into the trip organization, also be sure to check the laws of the country you are going to. In all Mediterranean countries, underwater archaeological sites are protected by the state. In some countries, you can only visit archaeological sites with an observer or guide, and in some, you can dive on your own, but you cannot touch anything. The main rule is one: not harm - neither yourself, nor history, nor nature. Today, UNESCO clearly distinguishes between the concepts of "diver" and "underwater archaeologist". The diver's code is: take only photos, leave only bubbles, keep only memories, not kill anything but time.