An Oil Spill on History?

British Petroleum’s plans to sink an oil well off the coast of Libya may destroy the region’s ancient underwater cities and shipwrecks, some archeologists warn. The well will be 200 meters deeper than the one that caused April’s spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Drilling is set to begin as soon as October.

But according to opponents, the sites near BP’s project are both archeologically significant and unusually well preserved. The seventh-century town of Apollonia, for example, is 5 meters underwater but its streets and buildings remain intact.

BP has said that the sunken ruins are not at risk because leaked oil floats. But some archeologists, pointing to the clouds of oil that hovered above the ocean floor after the Gulf spill, aren’t sure.

This isn’t the first time BP has clashed with the art community. Activists protested its sponsorship of British cultural institutions by filling the Tate’s grand hall with dead fish hanging from black balloons.