Croatian underwater 'safe' protects £5m shipwreck treasures





A shipwreck containing £5million worth of ancient treasures is being protected by a cage, creating a giant underwater safe, in Croatia.

The second century Greek trading vessel lies on the sea bed off the coast of Cavtat.

Little remains of the wooden ship but its cargo of earthenware amphora - ceramic vases - still remain stacked row upon row.

The vases, which originally contained olive oil and wine, are still tightly packed into the cargo hold as they were centuries ago.

Its cargo - one of the best preserved from an ancient wreck - has great historical significance and has an estimated value of £5m on the black market.

Croatian authorities are so concerned about looters plundering the valuable artefacts they have now protected the site - with a metal cage.

The heavy-duty cage features a large hinged door, which is kept locked with occasional access granted for divers under strict supervision.

Underwater photographer Neil Hope, of Torpoint in Cornwall, was among those given permission to dive the wreck.

He said: ''I'm an experienced diver and I've dived wrecks all over the world, but this was the most unique experience.

''I was taken down there by the man who discovered it. As soon as we were finished they closed the door and locked it up again.

''Obviously when you are inside you can't touch any of the cargo as it is very valuable, so they don't just let anyone inside the cage.

''You need excellent buoyancy skills so you're not damaging these valuable things.''

He was working on an assignment for the British Sub-Aqua Club's (BS-AC) DIVE magazine.


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