Archaeologists urge Albania to protect underwater heritage

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This July, 2017 photo released from the RPM Nautical Foundation, shows a diver exploring Ionian sea bed near Karaburun peninsula, Albania. (AP)
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This July, 2017 photo released from the RPM Nautical Foundation, shows artefacts of a shipwreck strewn over the Ionian sea bed, near Karaburun peninsula, Albania. (AP)
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This June 29, 2018 photo released from the RPM Nautical Foundation, an image taken with high tech sonar and remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) shows a shipwreck lying on the Ionian sea bed in near Karaburun peninsula, Albania. (AP)
Updated 04 July 2018
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Archaeologists urge Albania to protect underwater heritage

TIRANA: Researchers are urging Albanian authorities to build a museum to display hundreds of Roman and Greek artifacts and ancient shipwrecks that are sitting under the country’s barely explored coastline.
Archaeologists at the Albanian Underwater Archaeology conference warned Tuesday that the wealth of underwater artifacts in the country’s southwestern seabed, near its border with Greece, could easily fall prey to looters or treasure hunters.
James Goold, chairman of the Florida-based RPM Nautical Foundation, said the objects — dating from the 8th century B.C. through to World War II — would be a great tourist attraction if properly displayed.
Goold’s RPM has mapped out the Ionian seabed from the Greek border all along to the Vlora Bay, finding at least 22 shipwrecks from the ancient times to World War II and hundreds of ancient amphorae. Those long, narrow terracotta vessels carried olive oil and wine along trade routes between North Africa and the Roman Empire, where Albania, then Illyria, was a crossroad.
“The time has come to build a museum for Albanian and foreign tourists,” said Albanian archaeologist Neritan Ceka.
Some amphorae may have already been looted — they are not infrequently seen decorating restaurants along the Albanian coastline.
Albania is trying to protect and capitalize on its rich underwater heritage, long neglected by its former communist regime, but preservation still receives scarce funding from the government in one of Europe’s poorest nations.
The arrival of RPM’s Hercules research vessel 11 years ago was “a real revolution,” Ceka said, praising its professional divers, high-tech sonar and remotely operated underwater vehicle.
RPM and a joint Albanian-Italian expedition are the only scientific underwater efforts in Albania so far, both with the government’s approval.
Now RPM believes it’s time for the not-for-profit Institute of Nautical Archaeology research organization, which is based in Texas, US, to explore the possibilities of excavating shipwrecks, a financially expensive and scientifically delicate process.
“There’s a special environment in Albania, because the coast has been so protected for so many years,” said INA’s David Ruff, a former commander of a nuclear-powered submarine.
Ruff said “one of the real gems of Albania is the Butrint site” — a UNESCO-protected ancient Greek and Roman site in southernmost Albania close to the Greek border.
He said INA’s Virazon II research vessel will stay for a month in Albanian waters “to understand the coast of Albania and if we can run a large-scale excavation here.”


Aladdin’s Naomi Scott walks the (magic) carpet in Los Angeles

Scott walked the orange carpet at the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards. AFP
Updated 24 March 2019
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Aladdin’s Naomi Scott walks the (magic) carpet in Los Angeles

DUBAI: British-Indian “Aladdin” actress Naomi Scott strutted down the orange carpet at the Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Awards in Los Angeles on Saturday night, while Lebanese teenage singing sensation Lynn Al-Hayek was voted the “Favorite Arab Music Artist” by her fans.

This year’s kid-friendly show was hosted by US-Palestinian producer and social media star DJ Khaled and saw the stars of the upcoming live-action version of Disney’s “Aladdin” — Will Smith, Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott — hit the orange carpet before they floated down onto the stage on a platform made to look like Aladdin’s magic carpet.  

Before taking to the stage, Scott walked the carpet in a soda-orange, feathered coat with a silvery, metallic sweatshirt underneath. She finished off the fun look with black drainpipe trousers and shiny boots.

The annual award show is famous for dousing celebrity attendees with green slime, much to the delight of the children in the audience. This year, Hollywood’s Chris Pratt, Josh Peck and Adam Sandler were soaked from head to toe and the show culminated with DJ Khaled blanketing both himself and the crowd in green goo.

There was no shortage of star power at the event, with the likes of Jennifer Hudson, Janelle Monáe, Bebe Rexha and YouTube sensation Lilly Singh spotted in the audience.

Two Arab stars even made it into the list of winners — teenage singer Lynn Al-Hayek, who won The Voice Kids in 2016, and internet blogger Noor Stars took home awards for Favorite Arab Music Artist and Favorite Arab Internet Star respectively.

Hip-hop trio Migos performed their hits “Walk It Talk It” and “Stir Fry,” along with rising single “Pure Water,” accompanied by DJ Durel before adrenaline-packed teenage YouTube star JoJo Siwa forced DJ Khaled to don one of her signature hair bows after he lost a dance battle.