Albania Survey Project: 2008 Field Season
In July/August of 2008 the first large-scale survey of the Albanian coast continued, a project undertaken by RPM Nautical Foundation (RPMNF) in conjunction with Drs. Adrian Anastasi and Neritan Ceka of the Albanian Institute of Archaeology (AIA) and Auron Tare, Director of the Albanian National Trust. This project was also made possible by the cooperation of the Albanian Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Representatives of the Waitt Institute for Discovery (WID) assisted in project operations as well. The survey during 2007 began at Albania’s southern border with Greece with a goal to complete a multibeam survey of the seafloor between the 25- and 100-m contour; the 2008 stage of multibeam surey reached the area north of Sarande around Cape Qefalit. An additional area of multibeam survey was conducted around Porto Polermo. In addition to the multibeam survey a dive investigation was conducted along the shoreline down to the 35-m contour.
Based on the multibeam equipment’s depth constraints, the survey extended to the 100-m contour wherever that may lie out from the coast. One of the governing geologic process again this season was the outflow of the Butrint River. The river runs through the rough, rocky coast and empties into the sea with episodes of periodic highly erosive flows. A large amount of sediment is moved by this river that forms a thick deposit emanating from the river’s mouth. This sediment deposit is moved by the prevailing N-S current. Another survey area undertaken during the 2008 fieldseason was the bay of Porto Polermo and its entrance at the request of Dr. Anastasi.
This area was completed in two days of survey with only one small area incomplete. The Hercules was not able to run one lane due to the presence of a fish pen; however, this small area is not significant. It is hoped that the survey of this port will assist in Dr. Anastasi’s investigation in conjunction with the Italian dive survey of the bay. Multibeam survey was conducted by a RPMNF’s survey vessel, the R/V Hercules. After multibeam data was collected, processed, and cleaned of aberrant readings, it was reviewed as a three-dimensional model of the seafloor. Software applications allowed the visualization and manipulation of each individual beam reading in order to attain the best possible seafloor image and the identification of anomalies. Anomalies were assessed for their association with surrounding geologic formations or products of recent human disturbance.
Once the research vessel was positioned over an anomaly location, the ROV was deployed. Anomalies were verified primarily with the ROV except for a few in shallow areas, c. 25 m of depth, where divers were utilized. A forward-scanning sonar affixed to the ROV facilitated the location of each anomaly and aided in the examination of the area surrounding each anomaly for scattered objects. For example, the power and frequency of the sonar allows the detection of a single amphora at a distance of 40 m. After it was determined that an anomaly was located, and a site was present, recording ensued with the use of a video camera. When sites were located, objects were raised when it was deemed necessary to assist in determining date and nature of the site. When geologic formations were encountered, they were scanned for cultural material that often is trapped when drag nets or currents push them onto rocks. Although such displaced material does not constitute a site in itself, a distribution map of these finds can assist in locating sites.
2008 Anomaly Verification
During ROV verification of anomalies all areas were explored in order to determine the nature of the seafloor and, therefore, the character of the anomalies in the multibeam data.Targets were verified near shore as well as runs made at the 35- to 45-m contour in certain areas of coast to ascertain the degree of material culture. By the end of the season over half of the current anomalies have been identified.
2008 Sites: AB08-AA (Minesweeper Wreck)
Verified by WID’s ROV after receiving location and imaging information from RPMNF derived during the 2007 field season. Video verification was cursory as this was first attempt at verification operations for WID, the visual recording indicated that the vessel was possibly the British fleet minesweeper HMS Regulus under Cmd. R. W. D. Thomson. The Regulus rated at over 1000 tons and was reported sunk by a mine in the Corfu Channel on January 12, 1945. The ship was 235′ x 35.5′ x 11,5′, had a normal complement of 100 and was armed with a single 4″ anti-aircraft gun along with four 20 mm. The Regulus was the former Royal Canadian Navy Longbranch, a US Algerian class minesweeper built September 18, 1943.
AB08-AB (Porto Polermo I Wreck)
This vessel is a small warship of approximate dimensions 30 X 7.5 m. The WWI-era is hypothesized based on the large stack and cabin at center of this metal wreck. Furthermore, a gun is situated forward and possibly another aft; however, the aft object is highly corroded and difficult to ascertain and may be ship’s equipment. The wreck is metal and is well articulated. Sediment from the bay has buried much of the lower hull and there is likely large sections of well preserved remains. Presently there is no clear association with a known wreck and further investigation is required.
AB08-AC (Drum and Tile Wreck)
The jumbled debris here is primarily composed of large tires and 50-gallon metal drums. A propeller is also located at one end of the wreck, presumably the stern. A few other large metal objects are also located on the wreck; as they are heavily concreted it is not clear if they are cargo or ship items. Hull remains were visible during the initial investigation that appear to be metal bow structure. Perhaps this vessel dates to the mid-20th century, either associated with WWII operations or possibly with the Graeco-Italian conficts. It is also possible that this wrecksite is part of the same event as that of site AB08-AE. Images of the tires have been forwarded to the Imperial War Museum in the UK for review.
AB08-AD (Stone Carrier Wreck)
Very articulated wooden hull remains that include frames, planking, and longitudinal support timbers are all preserved. As many of the timbers appear in their original articulated positions with little erosion or damage, as well as most maintaining their shape as they rise off the seabed. Frames are attached to the futtocks at the turn of the bilge, where the angle is rather sharp. The frames and futtocks suggests that this vessel was flat-bottomed or nearly so. Considering the preservation of the exposed wood remains, this wreck is likely of the modern era. The primary cargo item that survives is undressed stone block; whether this was ballast or building material is unclear. Examination of the block deposit’s surface did not reveal cultural material or other raw materials. The nature and dimensions of the visible scantling indicate a moderate-sized vessel.
AB08-AE (Armored Vehicles)
This site is formed by two separate deposits 60 m apart, each appearing to be a large armored military car along with their stowage gear. The tires remain on their hubs and in their regional positions. Large metal objects between the wheels are undoubtedly part of the vehicle’s chassis or engine mounts, with the former being the most likely. As such, the vehicles are lying upside down. Each of the vehicles is covered with significant amounts of sediment and drag nets are accumulating on them. These vehicles may have been part of the invasion of Kakomea Bay by the British forces.
AB08-AF (Rodon Wreck)
This wrecksite is characterized by a scatter of amphoras atop and around a sand mound in an open seafloor area devoid of protruding rock formations in the immediate area. Visibility was poor on each of the visits to the site, hence it was difficult to ascertain an overall view of the site. A video run was made over the site area in order to produce a photo mosaic and, subsequently, a site plan. The majority of the amphoras were broken and there were numerous sherds scattered about. An intact amphora was noted on the site. This amphora is a Corinthian B form from the end of the 6th-beginning of the 5th century BCE and similar to other amphora fragments noted on the vessel; accordingly this is the provisional date of the wreck. The broken amphoras on the surface indicate there has been likely damage from drag nets. However, the intact amphoras on the site, as well as amphora mouths protruding from the mound, may indicate a significant cargo deposit below the accumulated sediment.
AB08-AG (Qefalit Tile Wreck)
The wreck was discovered approximately 7 km off Cape Qefalit situated in a depression that was likely a product of the wreck settling in the soft sediment combined with scouring from the currents that run through the Corfu Straits. Consequently, drag nets would likely skip over the top of the wrecksite leaving the aratifacts largely undisturbed. Undoubtedly, the nature of the cargo also reduced disturbance as the primary surviving cargo is roof tiles. Many of the tiles remain stacked and form an integrated deposit. The tiles include both pan and cover forms. Initial examination of one sample (artifact AB08-0012) reveals a yellow fabric with dark inclusions, typically characteristic of Corinth. The flange shape and dimensions of the pan tiles are consistent with the 4th century BCE.
AB08-AH (Butrint II Wreck)
Dive investigation of this site revealed a disturbed deposit on a sandy slope. The amphoras comprising this site number between 18-25 and are broken in large fragments. All amphoras are of one type, Tripolitanian I. This isolated and concentrated deposit of amphoras from N. Africa confirm a cargo from a wrecking event. Portions of at least 10 amphoras were buried in the sand, while others were lying up and down slope on the surface. A large amount of growth appeared on the amphoras, and combined with most being broken and buried, some of the material is difficult to distinguish. It is possible that more have rolled further down slope out of diver range.
AB08-AI (Butrint III Wreck)
An extremely disturbed and degraded site was discovered during dive operations in the shallow waters near the rocky shore south of Burtint Bay. The site is a deposit of broken amphoras. Undoubtedly the shallow nature of the wrecksite has allowed wave action to wash the ceramics against the rocks and resulted in the breakage and general poor condition of the site. These amphora fragments are lying in several concentrations and many fragments are now adhered to the rocks. Additionally, a large amount of rock has tumbled from the slope above onto the site and buried amphora fragments and possibly significant portions of the site. The visible portion of the site is spread out over an area approximately 15 m in length. Because of the poor condition of the site, it is difficult to ascertain all of the amphora types that are present; however, enough diagnostic material is present for identification of type Corinthian B. This rims, handles, and toes indicate a form from the late 6th – 5th century BCE, and it appears this was a major part of the amphora cargo.