The Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities is a Special Peripherral Service of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports with responsibility in the whole Greek State. It was founded in 1976 (Government Gazette 207/Á/10-8-1976) and its objective is the protection of the underwater antiquities, which comprise of wrecks of ancient ships, settlements or ancient harbour installations that lie in the seas, the lakes and the rivers. Since 2003, that wrecks of ships and aircrafts above 50 years old from their construction date-including their portable elements- were declared as monuments because of their historical, technical, scientific and cultural interest, the Ephorate of Underwater Archaeology protects them as well. (Government Gazette 1701/Â/19-11-2003)
In detail, the Ephorate has the following responsibilities: The detection and the research of submerged antiquities, the care for their safety and their conservation, the organizing of museums of underwater antiquities, the supervision of projects held by Institutes of maritime activities, by oceanographic institutions and expeditions, the control of diving or any other maritime activities that can provoke direct or indirect damage on the antiquities, the promotion of the declaration of underwater archaeological sites (article 15 of Law 3028, Government Gazette 153/Á/28-6-2002) and the establishment and function of these sites as accessible to the public under surveillance (article 11 of Law 3409, Government Gazette 273/Á/4-11-2005).
Specifically, the Ephorate has responsibility for:
- Public and private works at sea (harbour construction etc.)
- Works on the seaside and the beach
- Authorizing for underwater research, piscicultures, aquacultures, shell fishings, cable-layings
- Permission for underwater photography, film making and video recording etc.
- Granting payments for handing in antiquities.
- Handling cases of illicit trade in antiquities and of confiscations, authorizing for permissions for legal antiquities possession.
-Archaeological Inspection for the detection of underwater antiquities.
-Conservation for the protection and prominence of the underwater antiquities.
The work of the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities is extended and only some indicative examples are mentioned in our site.
Citizen Information: The foundation of the Museum of Underwater Antiquities, pioneer due to the nature of the field and essential in a marine country, provides now the Ephorate, after 37 years of research in the greek sea, with the chance to present to the public archaeological information about our seabed, extended from the prehistoric to the modern times.
In the context of the programme "Piraeus Cultural Coast ' that was presented by the Piraeus Port Authority , the building of the Museum of Underwater Antiquities was suggested in the facilities, where the warehouses were accomadated (silo). This is an industrial building, constructed during 1934-1936, close related to the history and the character of Pireus as harbor, being a trademark due to its prominent position by the sea and to its importance.
Indeed, there could be no better choice to accommodate the treasures of the greek sea than a building in the heart of the central harbour of the country. We, all the emploees of the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities felt lucky after many years of abortive endeavors.
The foundation of the Museum of Underwater Antiquities will contribute to the prominence of the numerous and already conservated underwater relics, that till today remain unknown in the storage areas.