A rare glimpse of life in Cyprus more than 2,400 years ago

An underwater archeological park on the edge of Limassol is providing visitors with a rare glimpse of life in Cyprus more than 2,400 years ago, archeology professor Stella Demesticha says.

Demesticha is an associate professor of underwater archaeology at the state University of Cyprus, and worked on the preparation of the park, which encompasses the entire submerged harbor of the ancient city of Amathus.

Archeologists have dated the construction of the harbor back to the end of the 3rd century B.C., when Cyprus was at the center of a conflict between the successors of Alexander the Great.

The site was excavated by a French archaeological team in the 1980s, but it was mainly the discoveries on land that drew public attention. These included the Agora, private houses and administrative buildings, and public baths. Hundreds of pottery items were also excavated.

“People were only aware of the Agora, with its columns, and other excavated buildings next to the seaside and the main road,” said Demesticha.

However, the harbor lies in shallow waters close to the shore, with parts including the entrance and jetties visible to visitors. Access is easy and no special diving equipment is required except a mask and snorkel.

The ruins of the harbor extend 100 meters into the sea, and cover an area of about 30,000 square meters. The harbor has three moles; stone embankments made from around 5,000 heavy blocks with quays on the inside, and heavy breakwaters of boulders on the outer side.

Turning the submerged harbor into an underwater park was a joint undertaking by the Maritime Archaeological Research Laboratory, the state University of Cyprus, the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus and the Department of Fisheries and Marine Research of Cyprus. ■

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