Cyprus

Diving Detectives: Underwater Discoveries At RAF's Busiest Operational Base

A team of maritime archaeologists have been exploring the coastline around RAF Akrotiri.

RAF Akrotiri may be the site of the Royal Air Force's busiest operational airbase, but the peninsula in Cyprus dates back many thousands of years.

For the past few weeks, a team of maritime archaeologists have been exploring the coastline around the base, uncovering what they believe is the remains of a busy Roman-era port.

As they try to piece together the past life of the Mediterranean peninsula, some clues have been found on the land, but others are buried on the sea bed.

The specialist team, made up of maritime archaeologists from the University of Southampton and University of Cyprus, are diving on what is believed to be a once huge breakwater in Dreamers Bay.

RAF Akrotiri Dreamers Bay
Dreamers Bay contains archaeological remains linked to an ancient harbour.

The 130m-long stone wall jutted out from the shoreline, protecting ships as they unloaded their goods.

It was built from huge blocks, thought to be quarried from the cliffs above, dating from about 1,500 years ago.

Dr Lucy Blue, from the University of Southampton, said: "We've been taking core samples, either side of the breakwater, from those samples we've been able to identify a moment when it was built because it gives an indication of calmer water inside the lee."

RAF Akrotiri Dreamers Bay Maritime Archaeologists
The specialist team are made up of maritime archaeologists from the University of Southampton and University of Cyprus.

A short distance from the remains of the breakwater, the archaeologists have also found a shipwreck, believed to be a large merchant vessel which sank in the 6th Century AD.

Underwater archaeologist, Dr Carmen Obied said: "It's not how you would normally imagine it, you have to piece it together on the evidence.

"It's all connected within that one area of the site, we've also found anchors and they are all associated with a similar time period and type."

For these diving detectives, trying to piece this all together is a painstaking process, a historical puzzle that is yet to yield all its answers.