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Mljet Diving Sites

The eastern Adriatic Coast, besides the advantages provided by its indentation, from the very beginning of maritime affairs has been an important navigation route. The Island of Mljet and the Mljet Channel make a component part of such a route, where Mljet is the first larger island when ships enter the more protected waters traveling from the south to the north. In spite of the danger from the cold norteastern wind called ‘bura’, the northern part of the coast with its naturally protected ports  Okuklje, Sobra, Polače and Pomena was more suitable for the navigation than the steep and unindented shores of the peninsula of Pelješac opposite Mljet.

Numerous remains of shipwreck, anchorages, single findings, as well as remains of ancient harbour in Polače testify thereof. In addition to the National Park of Mljet, located in the western part of the island, because of the wealth of existing and potential underwater archaeological localities the Ministry of Culture has protected the entire seabed of Mljet, which includes the sea belt of 300 m from the island, as well as all other little islands and cliffs up to 2000 m distant.

Within the protected zone at present  there are 22 known underwater archaeological localities, most of them representing remains of antique shipwrecks.The oldest antique shipwrecks, on the basis of its cargo of amphorae, go back to the 2nd century B.C., while the newest shipwreck with Byzantine amphorae dates from the 9th – 10th ct. A.D.The late Middle Ages period is represented by some recently discovered remains of a shipwreck from the second half of the 16th ct. where  the ship’s cargo, remains of the ship structure and armaments (7 bronze cannons) are almost completely preserved. Most certainly there are still many unknown and undiscovered archaeological localities hidden in the seabed of Mljet; new localities testify thereof almost every year.

Because of the limited space of this article only one locality wil be presented here. We are talking about remains of an ancient shipwreck in the position of Klačine near Okuklje, on the northern side of the island of Mljet. The locality, as well as many others so far, has been found and reported to the Ministry of Culture by Boris Obradović Archeological findings in the underwater world of the Island of Mljet from the diving centre“ Epidaurum“ from Cavtat. After the first examination of the locality it has been stated that it is an exceptionally valuable and, what is the most important, well preserved underwater archaeological locality. On the rocky seabed, at the depth of 29 – 34 m, there are over a hundred amphorae type“ Lamboglia 2“ from 2nd up to 1st ct. B.C., and the remains of ship structure are under the sand. All amphorae are firmly coalesced with the surrounding bottom and covered with incrustation.

Following the archaeological research and the detailed documenting, all amphorae have been cleaned, and the entire locality has been covered with a protective metal cage, i.e. has been adjusted for the underwater tourist visit which can possibly be organized via the diving centre from Mljet. Such a way of protection and presentation of cultural heritage enables a direct joining of cultural heritage and tourist atractions.

Author: Domagoj Perkić

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