Thanks to its unique position in the eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus was an important landmark and stop-‐over point for ancient mariners. Recent maritime archaeological research, especially from the southern and western regions of Cyprus, have demonstrated the unique position of the island (Leidwanger, 2013; Demesticha, 2011; Leonard, 1995). According to these studies, it is likely that the north coast of the island will be as archaeologically rich. However, the archaeology of this region has been largely neglected and underexplored. This makes the constructive evaluation of the island’s archaeology as a whole, problematic.
It also raises the serious issue of protecting the cultural heritage due to the obscurity of archaeological sites in the region. In this project, the underwater cultural heritage of the site of Akanthou and its Roman harbour facilities will be recorded and studied. The objective is to ascertain the condition of the ancient remains and to aid future protection works, adding to the terrestrial research recently conducted at the site by Associate Professor Dr Muge Sevketoglu (Sevketoglu and Hanson, 2017).
Recent archaeological survey has demonstrated the need to extend investigation along the entire 8 km of the coast, inclusive of the underwater cultural heritage (Fig.1) (Sevketoglu and Hanson, 2017). This coastal landscape hosts several ancient anchorages referenced by ancient authors and identifiable from previous field surveys (Leonard, 2005; Sevketoglu and Hanson, 2017). In addition, interviews with fisherman and amateur divers have indicated further possible archaeological locations within the project area.
As Dr. Jon Henderson mentioned in his Honor Frost Foundation lecture (Honor Frost Foundation, 2013), tourism and fishing can inflict significant damage to underwater cultural heritage. It is hoped that this project will additionally identify the level of deterioration of underwater heritage in order to assist in future protection plans, ultimately enabling the hosting of cultural heritage awareness programs in the research area.