A new underwater archaeological investigation of a medieval shipwreck at Nissia, Paralimni, Cyprus, will be conducted by the Maritime Archaeological Research Lab (MARELab) of the University of Cyprus, under the direction of Dr Stella Demesticha with the support of the Honor Frost Foundation (HFF), UK. At the site, remains of a wooden ship of considerable size have been exposed for decades to natural disintegration and looting.
The aim of this preliminary investigation by MARELab, in collaboration with the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus, is to make an archaeological assessment and to document the wreck site, so that the proper protection and management actions may be planned.
In addition a HFF scholarship of GBP 10,000 will be available every year for one student in the Master’s programme “Field Archaeology on Land and under the Sea”, who will write a dissertation on a maritime subject. This Master’s programme, beginning in September 2014, is part of the University of Cyprus’s strategy to introduce maritime archaeology into the curriculum of both its under- and post-graduate archaeological studies.
Both these HFF grants contribute significantly to the advancement of education and research at the University of Cyprus. Additionally and of utmost importance are the synergies of these programmes with relevant activities that aim to enhance the study of maritime archaeology, a domain newly introduced in Cyprus. Thus the integrated work on the Nissia Shipreck, an underwater archaeological site under threat, is a unique opportunity for the conservators of the Department of Antiquities and the researchers of the MARELab to collaborate in the development of good management practices, essential for several underwater sites on the island. These practices concern laboratory based conservation methods of wooden finds, techniques of in situ preservation and public awareness activities.
The Honor Frost Foundation was founded in 2011. Its mission is to promote the advancement and research of maritime archaeology, with particular focus on the eastern Mediterranean. This was the wish of Honor Frost, a pioneer of underwater archaeology, who left the bulk of her estate to establish the Foundation after her death.
Since 2013, when the HFF initiated its grant awards, three more proposals have been approved for projects that involved the University of Cyprus: (i) digital documentation of the Mazotos Shipwreck excavation (MARELab); (ii) Support of Anna Demetriou’s PhD research on ‘Management of Ancient Shipwrecks in the Mediterranean: the case of Cyprus’; (iii) ‘Training the next generation’ – Cyprus Underwater Archaeology Field schools, 2015-2019 (Nautical Archaeological Society, MARELab).