“With what we’ve discovered until now, we may say that Albania is on a par with Italy and Greece.”

Over the past two summers, a research ship carrying US and Albanian experts has combed the waters off southern Albania inch by inch, using scanning equipment and submersible robots to seek ancient wrecks. In what organizers say is the first archaeological survey of Albania’s seabed, at least five sites were located which could possibly fill in the blanks on ancient shipbuilding techniques.

“Albania is a tremendous untapped (archaeological) resource,” said US archaeologist Jeffrey G. Royal from the Key West, Florida-based RPM Nautical Foundation, a nonprofit group leading the underwater survey.

The project would not have been imaginable just 18 years ago, when the small Balkan country was still ruled by communists who banned all contact with the outside world.

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