Battle over shipwreck treasure
By Agnieszka Rakoczy - Cyprus Mail
Controversy continues to swirl around the discovery in the murky depths of the Mediterranean of a 17th century Ottoman shipwreck in the Lebanese EEZ and the subsequent confiscation of its salvaged cargo by customs officials in Limassol.
News of the recovery of the artifacts and their confiscation at the end of 2015 recently resurfaced in the wake of a press release issued by Enigma Recoveries, the London-based company that funded the underwater exploration of the site.
Enigma hailed the discovery as a “once in a generation find that tells the story of the beginning of the globalised world”.
The company claims the legal problems it has encountered in Cyprus were the result of a simple administrative mistake. The department of antiquities, which currently has custody of the 588 artifacts confiscated in Limassol port, has a decidedly different take.
It accuses the company of carrying out illicit underwater excavations. Furthermore, the department claims that the people responsible for the underseas operation are no more than professional treasure hunters, motivated solely by their pursuit of a profitable pay-off.