In the winter of 1967 a Greek-Cypriot diver, Andreas Kariolou, accidentally discovered, in the depths of the sea outside the town of Kyrenia, the trails of a unique relic of antiquity, a ship later known as the "Kyrenia Ship". Michael Katzev of the American Institute of Nautical Archaeology subsequently excavated it.
The Kyrenia ship was built in the early 4th century B.C. and is the oldest Greek vessel ever discovered. Ancient shipwrecks have been found elsewhere in the Mediterranean Sea and the few parts of them studied have yielded valuable, but yet, incomplete information about the methods used by our ancestors in ancient shipbuilding. In this context the importance of the Kyrenia Ship is significant, as it is the best-preserved ship of the Classical period of Greek civilisation ever found to date. It is important to note that, 75% of the ship, that measures 15 metres in length, has been preserved as it was safeguarded under a protective layer of sand.
Among the cargo recovered were amphorae used for wine carrying and for the storage of almonds. Furthermore, a number of querns were found possibly being carried as ballast as well as bronze coins.
Domestic pottery was also recovered in the bow area, possibly belonging to the crew, and consisting of plates, bowls, ladles, sieves, a copper cauldron, salt dishes, oil jugs, cups and wooden spoons.
The radio carbon date on the almonds, the bronze coins and the radio carbon dating on the hull indicated that the ship could have been nearly 300 years old when she sunk.
All of the artifacts recovered in the Kyrenia ship wreckage were properly conserved and are now exhibited in the Kyrenia Castle.
The president of the Hellenic Institute for the Preservation of Nautical Tradition Mr. Harry Tzalas, with the assistance from professors Katzev and Steffy constructed an exact replica at a boatyard in Athens, Greece. The replica was named ‘Kyrenia II’ and was launched in Piraeus on June 22, 1985. Ever since, "Kyrenia II’ has become the symbol of hope and freedom and took part in a number of events all over the world.
The "Kyrenia II" ship represents the hope of return of all Kyrenians as well as all refugees in Cyprus to their homes following the barbaric invasion of Turkey in 1974. Due to the Turkish invasion this magnificent testimony of ancient shipbuilding is presently inaccessible to the people of Cyprus.