The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC), the developer behind the world’s most ambitious regenerative tourism project, has partnered with the Ministry of Culture to unite efforts in the fields of archaeology, heritage, history and sustainable tourism along Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast.
Among the agreements signed was a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Heritage Commission and a second with the Museums Commission to encourage mutual collaborations across a series of initiatives including the delivery of the Kingdom’s first underwater archaeological excavation.
"The Red Sea coast of Saudi Arabia is rich in history, having been positioned at the heart of global trading routes for centuries. Partnering with the Heritage and Museums Commission allows TRSDC to both explore the historical significance of this unique region and ensure the preservation of our discoveries," remarked its CEO John Pagano after signing the MoU with Hamed Fayez, Vice Minister of Culture, Vice chairman of Heritage Commission and Vice chairman of Museums Commission.
"TRSDC is committed to responsibly developing the extraordinary natural beauty and historical value of the Red Sea and we look forward to close collaboration to advance the Kingdom’s heritage conservation efforts," stated Pagano.
Saudi Arabia traces its roots back to the earliest civilizations of the Arabian Peninsula. Over centuries, it has played an important role in history as the birthplace of Islam and an ancient trade center, linking the Mediterranean world with eastern and southern sources of incense, spices and other luxury goods.
The Incense Trade Route flourished between roughly the 7th century BC and the 2nd century AD.
The coastal waters of the Red Sea contain significant points of historical interest and the partnership facilitates an expedition led by The University of Napoli L’Orientale to deliver the Kingdom’s first underwater excavation.
Dr Chiara Zazzaro, Director of Red Sea Shipwreck Excavation and Associate Professor of Maritime Archaeology at the University of Naples "L'Orientale", Italy, said the shipwreck is currently the most intact and best-preserved wooden shipwreck in the Red Sea. With its spectacular cargo of jars, porcelain and spices, this 18th century merchantman testifies the intense trading activities going on in the Red Sea before the opening of the Suez Canal, and its articulated connection with the wider Indian Ocean trade."
"The preserved wooden structure represents unique evidence of massive and expensive boatbuilding construction, previously unknown in the region," explained Dr Zazzaro.
The shipwreck occurred sometime between 1725-1750 and is located in Al Wajh lagoon. Submersed in 20-22 meters of water, the hull remains in the seabed along with a mound of 1,000+ visible jugs which have calcified into a single group.
According to Pagano, it is approximately 40 meters in length and 10 meters wide with an intact cargo of potentially 1,000 tons.
"All artefacts will be preserved, catalogued, and stored in the Red Sea Museum in Jeddah, while some pieces will be displayed for visitors of The Red Sea Project," he stated.
"The hull, which has calcified into something akin to petrified wood, and the approximately 4,000 highly decorated earthenware jars of various colors, shapes and designs, which has also calcified into a solid mass, will be left in place for divers to see. This will provide one of the most unique diving destinations anywhere in the world in less than 25 meters of calm, clear water," added Pagano.
The partnership also enables a full seabed survey to be delivered, stretching from Jeddah, upwards along the coastlines of The Red Sea Project and Amaala.
The survey planned for later this year, will identify archaeological remains in the ocean floor, which can potentially be excavated thereafter.-TradeArabia News Service