Achilleas Iasonos - 2019 - Oxford University Scholar

My dream, even before enrolling for the (MA) degree in Maritime Archaeology at University of Southampton in 2016, was to become an HFF scholar. Four years later my dream has become reality.

My on-going DPhil project Deep-Sea Archaeology in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Cyprus intends to demonstrate that it is possible to conduct research, and hence reveal new and unpublished information regarding Underwater Cultural Heritage (UCH) in the deep seas, by taking advantage of datasets (both geophysical and archaeological) produced by the oil and gas industry and other commercial sector companies.

For the past three years the study has been supported and closely monitored by the Department of Antiquities Cyprus (DoAC), to whom I am truly grateful, and has thus far contributed to the development a (geo)database containing over 1.7 TB of data. This developing (geo)database includes information on 300 scatters of materials and 8 shipwreck sites, of which 3 wrecks were discovered during the course of oil and gas explorations. In total, six out of the eight shipwrecks are located in the EEZ of Cyprus, with the remaining two sites situated in the EEZs of Lebanon and Egypt. As well as these eight confirmed archaeological sites, the study has gathered information, mapped and archived, coordinates of twenty-seven side-scan-sonar (SSS) targets of high archaeological potential.

With the help of Dr. Despo Pilides of the Department of Antiquities and the academic supervision of Dr Damian Robinson, University of Oxford, we have effectively contributed towards achieving the implementation of the national legislation of Cyprus. The 2014 (amended) Antiquities Law of Cyprus Article 18a states that ‘Any archaeology on the Continental Shelf and the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) either known or unknown, belongs to the government, from now and on’. This is possible because gathering, reanalysing, storing, and following up on datasets for the purpose of this study enables the DoAC to protect the UCH of Cyprus in the deep seas. Furthermore, this project, has demonstrated that archaeological assets are protected both under heritage, environmental and hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation laws, adding validity to the Department’s actions in asserting control over UCH assets in all maritime zones of Cyprus. To ensure that this has been effectively achieved, this project has developed the first monument list in a developing (geo)database, to enable the effective management of known sites in the deep waters of Cyprus. It is my position that through this (geo)database the DoAC can now have a more proactive role in consulting contractors operating in the EEZ regarding the whereabouts of deep sea UCH discoveries. It will help to protect these sites in situ from future commercial development projects such as oil and gas exploration and exploitation activities, pipeline and cable laying projects, and deep sea mining.

Finally, the study demonstrates that academic research in the subdiscipline of maritime archaeology can be effectively expanded beyond the accessible shallow waters of the Territorial Seas (TS) and into the inaccessible deep waters of the EEZ. This project is a benchmark case study for the Foundation’s developing deep sea agenda.

I have always been a keen swimmer. I was champion and record holder in the 200m breaststroke in Cyprus in 2008, and had the privilege of participating in competitions around the world with the National Team. I am a passionate, resilient, and positive person, with the ability to work hard to meet deadlines, whilst at the same time working well within teams to overcome obstacles and problems. I am an expert in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and understand the importance working to produce data and to archive it for future reuse. I enjoy working in any environment, and have excellent communication skills enabling me to relate to people regardless of their socioeconomic and cultural background. I have undertaken fieldwork in five different countries in Europe, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East, and have developed a good set of archaeological and survey skills both on-land and underwater. I am a keen recreational (rescue) diver with 6 years’ experience and over 500 logged dives.

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