Sunday, December 27, 2015

Cypriot authorities seize treasure hunting ship after finding antiquities

Cypriot authorities have seized a Bahamas-flagged treasure hunting ship after discovering aboard hundreds of antiquities, the state radio reported on Saturday.

The American owned "Odyssey Explorer" sailed into the port of Limassol on the south Cyprus shores on Dec. 17 and was boarded on Wednesday on suspicion of illegally exploring for antiquities in the Cypriot exclusive economic zone.

Antiquity experts found 57 plastic containers with artifacts suspended in desalinated water - the standard practice for preserving antiquities after retrieval from the sea.

A police spokesman originally said that the 18th century artifacts, believed to have been recovered from a shipwreck east of Cyprus, were not related to the eastern Mediterranean island.

The state radio, quoting Antiquity Department officials, said that on closer examination hundreds of antiquity pieces of a big value were found packed in the hold of the ship.

"The counting, inspection and photographing of the antiquities will take several days," an official was quoted as saying.

He said the antiquities included mediaeval porcelain and ceramic plates and also every-day plates and forks.

The police said the ship is equipped with two submersible robots capable of reaching at a depth of 2,500 meters.

They also said that the 13 members of the crew and archaeologists who come from several countries, including the United States, Britain, Russia, Ukraine and the Philippines, have not been formally arrested but are being questioned by police regarding the activities and the whereabouts of the vessel.

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