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Marine Archaeologists Uncovering RAF Akrotiri's Ancient Secrets

Archaeologists believe the area around modern-day RAF Akrotiri was a port used by the Romans as a safe, secluded place to anchor when...

Marine archaeologists have been surveying the waters at RAF Akrotiri for clues to its ancient past. 

The Royal Air Force has had a base in Cyprus since the 1950s but warfare is nothing new to the area.

Dreamer’s Bay - just a stone's throw away from RAF Akrotiri - has been described as “one of best preserved ancient ports in the Med” and British marine archaeologists have teamed up with local specialists to investigate a breakwater for clues about life in antiquity.

The site of the ancient port has already been excavated.
The site of the ancient port has already been excavated.

Archaeologists believe the breakwater was built in the 4th Century AD – a period when the Romans controlled Cyprus.

It is thought to have been 120m in length and allowed Roman ships a safe, secluded place to anchor when transporting soldiers, goods and supplies.  

“You’ve got a series of blocks that are roughly a meter by half a meter,” describes Dr Lucy Blue from the University of Southampton.

“So they’re large limestone blocks that are building up from a natural reef up from the seabed.

"We’ve got remaining about four courses deep and this was a large wall that basically extended out into the sea that meant that ships could either come alongside and moor up or go to the very end in the deeper water and offload their goods.”

The breakwater is thought to date back to the 4th Century AD
The breakwater is thought to date back to the 4th Century AD.

Archaeologists swam down towards the seabed and took enough photographs to build a 3D model – a technique called photogrammetry.

The team also took core samples in the hope they reveal further clues after testing.

Whatever the tests reveal about Akrotiri’s past in years gone by, present-day airmen are intrigued by the exploration.

The excavation involved marine archaeologists from universities in both Britain and Cyprus.
The excavation involved marine archaeologists from universities in both Britain and Cyprus.

“I have a fascination for anything historical,” Sergeant Graham Moore, Joint Movements Squadron, told Forces News.

“To be involved in projects like this, it’s absolutely superb.”

The findings from the dive will be used to plan further excavations around Dreamer’s Bay, allowing archaeologists to piece together even more clues about Akrotiri’s past.