The 2012 field season of the Egadi Islands Survey Project was successful in that the battle landscape for the Battle of the Egadi Islands was greatly expanded, and its extents further delineated. This is the first naval battle landscape from antiquity located, and importantly done so in an archaeological manner. Additionally, the project was able to bring new technology to bear on the survey, an AUV, which provided a novel solution to the search efforts in previously inaccessible areas.
Efforts for site protection took a significant step forward in September 2011 with the formation of an exclusion zone around the currently known area of the Punic War battle landscape. This zone is enforced by the Captain of the Port of Trapani and Guardia Costiera. This season the Guardia Costiera assisted in removing several nets placed in the zone, and clearing away fishing vessels.
The primary discovery during the 2012 field season was the exploration of at least one of the battle zones for the Battle of the Egadi Islands. The finds were concentrated in a relatively small area and included: bronze warship rams, bronze helmets, amphoras, and tableware. Also located during ROV investigation were five individual finds of amphoras. In addition to the finds associated with the battle event there were several unrelated individual finds.
Punic War Battle Landscape – Area A (PW-A)
ROV verification during the 2012 field season discovered a concentration of objects that have both spatial and chronological association. The remains include: Greco-Italic V/VI type amphoras, Punic amphoras, bronze helmets, tableware, and bronze warship rams. The artifacts in this concentration lie within an area of around four square kilometers. The area has not been completely examined, and wherever ROV verification has taken place artifacts are present. The entire area may also continue further to the west; examination to the west indicates the presence of artifacts, but possibly in a lowered concentration. It may also be the case that the finds continue to the northwest as a high concentration was encountered in this direction during the season. It is nearly certain that dragging to the east of this artifact concentration moved the Egadi 2 ram and the Greco-Italic amphoras from here to their find locations c. 6 km to the north, and resulted in the collection of the Egadi 7 ram.
During ROV operations, 219 amphoras (201 Greco Italic V/VI and 18 Punic) were located on the seafloor; each had its position and depth recorded (see chart in Appendices). The amphoras are in varying degrees of condition, yet 69% are intact. No concentrations were located this season and the dispersion continues to support a depositional event whereby amphoras were spilled out of vessels at the surface. Eight examples were raised for analysis.
During ROV operations two bronze helmets were located on the seafloor within 200m of the Egadi 9 ram; one of which displayed the crest knob, rope pattern, and neck guard, typical of a Montefortino type.
The Egadi 8 Ram
An intact ram was located in the northern sector of PW-A; it sat upright and was buried in the sediment up to its upper fin. The areas directly around and adjacent to the ram were excavated in order to facilitate the ram’s removal and to ascertain the ram’s condition.The ram’s location was near a Punic amphora and two other Greco-Italic V/VI amphoras. The ram’s form is similar to that of the Egadi 2-7 rams, and it shares an identical iconographic element on the cowl nosing to the Egadi 7 ram: a helmet with three feathers protruding from top.
The Egadi 9 Ram
This ram was buried with its head downward into sediment. Attempts to jostle the ram indicate that a substantial portion lies beneath the surface, and that given the known characteristics of ram morphology the ram is likely largely intact. It is clear there has been significant octopus nesting taking place. The ram is slated for retrieval in 2013.
The Egadi 10 Ram
The ram lying on its side and almost completely buried. It is not clear if the cowl and bottom plate are present, or if they are damaged. Given the fact that the ram is buried in its current level orientation, it is likely that the remaining portion of the driving center is present. The ram is slated for retrieval in 2013.
In addition to multibeam searching and recording, an experimental use of an AUV was initiated during the 2012 field season. With the robotics team from the University of Sydney, the AUV was deployed from the Hercules in several areas of site sector PW-A. The areas surveyed were those that possessed a high degree of rock outcrops as the sonar on the ROV proves less reliable in these areas. An AUV survey was also made of the Levanzo I wrecksite (pictured right). This survey was one of the more important during the field season as it provided an unprecedented opportunity to compare recording methodologies for deep water-maritime sites, as well as providing a site map three years after the initial one.