President Viktor Yushchenko on Thursday watched water archeologists of the Byzantium 2007 expedition explore an old Byzantine ship, which had been discovered last year at a depth of 139 m in the Black Sea near Khersones, president's press office reported.

Robert Ballard of the University of Rhode Island, who co-heads the Ukrainian-American expedition of 29 researchers and is most famous for his discoveries of the wrecks of the RMS Titanic and the battleship Bismarck, said the ancient vessel contained amphorae, which are extremely well-preserved because of the great depth, and added that they would continue exploring the ship next year with special tools.

Yushchenko was allowed to use a remote-controlled device to recover one of the amphorae and viewed other valuable artifacts.

The President praised the researchers for their achievements. “I am convinced this is a great start for a big national museum which will show our country, our nation and the people of the world one of the interesting antique pages of the Black Sea coast,” he told reporters.

Yushchenko said Ukraine, having a “colossal historical heritage,” should support its scientists and insisted it was important to buy new equipment for the Underwater Heritage Department of the Archeology Institute of Ukraine. He also said American archeologists could teach their Ukrainian colleagues how to better preserve their findings and start educational programs aimed at popularizing underwater archeology in Ukraine.


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