This week: Butrint

City walls at Butrint, Albania. IMAGE: Marcin Konsek.

With sea levels predicted to rise by as much as +2.0m by 2100, a recent study by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found many of the Mediterranean’s greatest archaeological sites to be at serious risk of damage or loss.

From Pompeii and Herculaneum to the Kasbah of Algiers, and from Gibraltar’s Gorham’s Cave – one of the last known habitations of the Neanderthals in Europe – to the Crusader stronghold of Acre, many world-famous sites face the threat of flooding, erosion and gradual inundation due to rising water tables.

This week on The Past, we look in detail at how one site – the magical Graeco-Roman city of Butrint in south-west Albania – is planning to confront the challenges posed by our fast-changing environment.

In the new issue of Current World Archaeology magazine, and on the latest edition of The PastCast, our brilliant podcast, Richard Hodges and David Prince reveal how archaeologists and heritage experts are working together to deal with the rising sea-levels that within a few decades are predicted to swamp the low-lying 650ha UNESCO World Heritage Site, leaving many of its most significant early remains, such as the magnificent Roman forum, theatre and temples, submerged beneath the Ionian Sea.

Elsewhere this week, we’ve also been digging in the archives for more clues about Butrint’s mysterious past: Richard Hodges looked back on 20 years of discovery and excavation at the World Heritage site; Enrico Giorgi explained how a new project devoted to an exceptional set of inscriptions is shedding new light on life in the ancient city; and Andy Crowson even took to the air to examine Butrint from above.

And finally, if all that just whets your appetite for more, don’t forget to have a go at our latest themed quiz, which this week also focuses on Mediterranean sites under threat from climate change. Good luck, and we hope you enjoy The Past!

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