First discovered in 2007, the wreck site of a 7th century BC trading vessel is located at a depth of 110 metres outside Xlendi Bay, Gozo. The depth of the site has ensured its well-preserved condition but has also made it extremely challenging to investigate.
The decision to conduct an excavation at a depth of 110 metres was taken in the 2018, becoming the first ever excavation by divers at this depth. The deep waters of the Xlendi shipwreck have, on the surface, thrown up many challenges making progress in the systematic collection of the archaeological data slow. However, it has also presented an opportunity to test various tools and technologies for deep-sea underwater archaeology, contributing to the practice of maritime archaeology as a whole. Through the five years of the project, raising awareness was an important part of the annual season, with open days organised to invite the public to explore the shipwreck, regular publications and media reports, all contributing to the outreach goals of the project. Central to the this is the Phoenician Shipwreck exhibition, first opened by Heritage Malta in 2018 in the Citadel of Rabat, Gozo. The aim of this free exhibition was to invite the public to experience the work behind the world’s first ever excavation by divers beyond 100 metres.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of the exhibition in Gozo, and a decision was made to move the display to the National Aquarium in Buġibba, Malta, where it remained until March 2022.
In April 2022, the exhibition moved to the National Museum of Archaeology in Valletta, where it will remain throughout the spring and early summer.
The exhibition is free and its new central location in the heart of Malta’s capital will with all certainty attract a number of local and foreign visitors!