The 2013 field season of the Egadi Islands Survey Project was successful in that the battle landscape for the Battle of the Egadi Islands was expanded for a second consecutive year, and its extents further delineated. This is the first naval battle landscape from antiquity located, and importantly done so in an archaeological manner. The numerous finds are made more important than their inherent rarity for addressing crucial archaeological questions by having their provenience recorded, their associated finds collected and recorded, and their subjection to various analyses. The contextualization of the material, both spatially and temporally, allows significant hypotheses to be addressed and formulated from this data. 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. No multibeam survey took place during the 2011-13 field seasons given the large amount already completed in previous seasons and the large amount of area to verify.
In the 2010 fieldseason, multibeam survey concentrated on the zone south of Levanzo Island, approaching the northern section of Favignana Island, as well as completing a strip along the entire western side of Favignana Island. Multibeam survey has now taken place during four field seasons: 2005 (17.5 km2), 2007 (118.3 km2), 2008 (12.3 km2) and 2010 (61.6 km2) for a total of 210.7 km2 completed. With the completion of this area, the entire zone around Levanzo Island is complete.
Sector Scan Sonar
A new technology tested this season was the sector scan sonar; a unit was provided at no cost by a representative of Kongsberg Maritime US and organized through efforts of Dr. Jon Henderson at the University of Nottingham. The sector scanner is designed to sit atop a stable platform on the seabed and generate detailed 360o sonar scan images that can be overlapped to form a coverage map. The unit worked well and was effective for mapping areas in high detail; the relative positions of amphoras and the Egadi 11 ram were ascertained very well. The drawback discovered was that the detail required is limited to approximately 30 m radius, and for a site that is now extending at least 3 x 1.5 km in size, the coverage area is simply too small to be time effective. The unit does have excellent potential if there is a concentration of finds that requires mapping in detail. To the right is an example of a scan that shows the Egadi 11 ram in situ along with amphoras lying nearby.
At least one primary battle zone for the Battle of the Egadi Islands was discovered during the 2010 field season and its exploration continued during the 2013 field season. The finds were concentrated in a large area and included: bronze warship rams, bronze helmets, amphoras, and tableware. It is clear from the number of finds and their extent in total area that it will require many field seasons to map and collect the artifacts.
Punic War Battle Landscape – Area A (PW-A)
ROV verification during the 2010-13 field seasons confirmed a concentration of objects (within area of four square km) that have both spatial and chronological association whichs include: Greco-Italic V/VI type amphoras, Punic amphoras, bronze helmets, tableware, and bronze warship rams.The area has not been completely examined, and wherever ROV verification has taken place artifacts are present.
Egadi 11 Ram
The Egadi 11 ram consists of an intact ram located in the northern sector of PW-A. The ram sat upright and was not buried in the sediment to any significant degree. This area was near the Egadi 9 ram and in between two long rock ridges protected from any disturbance. The areas directly around and adjacent to the ram were searched; the only other items were Greco-Italic amphoras scattered in the vicinity. The growth on the ram was significant; the heaviest on the upper portion of the cowl and it diminished towards the middle and lower fins. The only area without growth was on the forward, bottom section of the lower fin. The ram’s form is similar to that of the Egadi 2-8 rams.
The Egadi 11 ram shares an identical iconographic element on the cowl nosing to the Egadi 4 and 6 rams: a winged Victoria with a laurel wreath and the same names of two Quaestors. Wood from the ram’s warship remained in the keel and wale pockets which were taken for analysis.The inner third of the ram at the head was filled with wood/copper concretion that may have trapped artifacts. This mass will have to be searched during conservation to ascertain if artifacts survive.
During ROV operations, 31 amphoras (28 Greco Italic V/VI and 3 Punic) were located on the seafloor; each had its position and depth recorded. The Greco-Italic amphoras are in varying degrees of condition, yet 68% are intact and 86% were either intact or broken but all of the amphora is present. Similarly 73% of the Punic amphoras are intact; overall 68% of all amphoras are intact and 87% were either intact or broken but all of the amphora is present.The distribution was found to continue further north and is a scattered pattern over an area at least 3 km long. How far this amphora distribution ultimately extends is yet to be determined. There are no areas of concentrated groupings indicative of a typical merchantman wreck site or formed by the dumping of drag net collections. This distribution pattern is certainly formed by their being dumped by moving vessels at or near the surface.
It is also certain that more than one vessel was involved. The mix of amphoras with other artifacts in the distribution, particularly the warship rams, further supports that warships were carrying supplies during this operation; and those ships were likely Carthaginian.
The ninth piece of tableware was discovered this year. The variety now includes bowls, cups, jugs; all appearing to be of a coarseware fabric. It is certainly conceivable that these objects were part of the shipboard items. As tableware is quite small in comparison to amphoras, and that numerous amphoras are mostly buried, it is conceivable and likely that there is yet a larger amount of undetected tableware in the PW-A area.
Three helmets were discovered this field season, two were in fragmentary condition, while the third was largely intact. The latter was raised (PW13-0004).The other helmet remains were left on the seabed for later retrieval; these will be slated for the 2014 field season. The overall wide dispersion and pattern of the helmets indicates that this armor represents the personnel from more than one vessel. Moreover, the types of helmet finds this season (pictured below) indicate that in some instances it may be only the base ring that remains; thus there are numerous helmets that will be difficult to detect.
If such remains do remain on the surface, then it will require a type of metal detector or visual recording system in order to detect.
One find that was re-acquired during the 2013 field season was a stone sitting alone on the seafloor near numerous amphoras in the northern section of PW-A. The stone is clearly worked along its center, in a rough manner, and is squared off on each side: the manner in which it is shaped indicates it was not sawn but hewn. No netting or line is found around or near it. Possible identifications include some type of fishing or net weight. Given the conspicuous notching along the stone objects mid-length another possibility is an anchor stock.
In Kapitan’s analysis of anchor types used in the ancient Mediterranean (Kapitan, G. “Ancient Anchors – Technology and Classification”, IJNA, 13.1:33-44.), he postulated the development of stone stocks on composite anchors. Additionally, Kapitan rightly pointed out the use of anchors for long periods of time and the crossover of anchor types in contemporaneous eras. Our knowledge of stone anchor stocks is poor due to a paucity of finds.There are several examples of the more developed stage from the Crotone Museum and from Tantura Lagoon, Israel. It is thus possible that this is an earlier ‘type’ of stone anchor stock as shown by Kapitan, or at least something similar. If so, then it is possible that this anchor stock is associated with the warships that sank here in the 3rd century BCE. Other considerations make this possibility viable. First, large lead anchor stocks with boxes and integrated to the shafts were a later development: their development began with wooden stocks filled with lead. This type was used between the 5th – 2nd centuries BCE. Iron anchors also make an appearance as early as the 5th century BCE, and are used sporadically; they become more common in later periods.
Later, stocks cast fully in lead were developed; these were typically removable stocks, rather small, and had a similar shape to the final stages of stone and composite wood/lead stocks, and used with a lead collar for the arms. This type IV anchor is thought to be associated with the 2nd century BCE – 4th century CE and associated with areas from N Africa and Sicily through the E Mediterranean. Dr Royal has also found a similar type anchor stock on two 3rd-century BCE Corinthian wrecks in Albania. Larger stocks of solid lead were soon developed that were affixed to the wooden shaft and were accompanied by a wooden collar. In the latest developmental stage lead anchor stocks were ‘hot cast’ directly onto the wooden shaft; a hole in the shaft allowed lead to enter in order to secure the stock and shaft. These final stages were typically in the early Roman Imperial era, a time when silver mining in Spain, Dalmatia, and other areas was to a point where lead was plentiful and cheap. Large composite lead-wood anchors along with iron anchors were found on vessels such as the Nemi barges and merchant vessels. There is a natural expected loss of anchors due to hanging in rocks, thus expensive materials were not typically used. Hence, it is during a period when lead became cheap due to its abundance that it was possible to cast large anchor stocks in the quantities suggested by the numerous finds throughout the Mediterranean. It is during the 3rd and 4th centuries CE that the use of iron anchors begins to increase significantly and dominates by the end of the 5th/6th century CE.
If the stone object discovered in sector PW-A is indeed a stone anchor stock, it would certainly fit with the development of anchors. Large lead stocks associated with composite anchors were not developed by the mid-3rd century BCE, and therefore are not associated with fleets of the First Punic war. It is most likely that the anchor types utilized by fleets of the First Punic War were wither stone stocks, lead-filled wooden stocks, or possibly type IV anchor stocks. The vessels on the seafloor were mostly, if not all, operated by the Carthaginians. The economic stresses of the long struggle with Rome during the course of the war placed a high premium on all resources including lead; a metal used in coinage, armor, fittings, as slingshot, etc. Thus type IV anchors are also unlikely to have been commonly used, whereas common stone was a plentiful and cheap resource at all times. Given this possibility, the stone object should be raised and a petrologic analysis performed, as well as examination for tool marks. Even if this object itself is not an anchor stock, the analysis indicates the most likely types of anchors that were associated with these fleets of the Battle of the Egadi Islands.