This article in the July 2009 issue of Archaeology magazine summarized the important research and diving expeditions being conducted by RPM Nautical Foundation in the waters along the Albania’s coastline. Most of the finds consist of Corinthian goods from Greek transport ships which sank in route to their destinations on the Adriatic coast.
Lead components of a wooden anchor were discovered during the 2011 field season of theAlbanian Coastal Survey Project, part of theIllyrian Coastal Exploration Program, a co-operative effort between RPM Nautical Foundation, the Albanian Institute of Archaeology, and the Albanian Ministries of Culture and Defence. Since 2007 an intensive survey for submerged cultural material has completed…
The Roman and Late Roman Finds and Their Contexts
This article by Jeffery G. Royal details the Roman and Late Roman archaeological finds discovered during the 2007 – 2009 years of the Illyrian Coastal Exploration Program (ICEP). In addition, this evidence is used to argue several points as to how the Romans influenced the economy and trade of the Illyrian coast.
Discovery of the archaeological site where the battle took place Egadi on the morning of March 10, 241 B.C.
This article details The Archeorete Egadi project, the goal of which was to retrace the exact locations of the naval battle of March 10 of 241 B.C. between the Romans and Carthaginians. Described is this underwater survey project off the island of Levanzo, the finds located there (bolts, helmets, rams), and a reconstruction of the battle.
Once closed to exploration, the waters off the Albanian coast begin to give up their secrets
The R/V Hercules is anchored in the Adriatic Sea near Saranda, Albania, and the crew of the 110-foot-long research vessel is at attention. “Back deck, stand clear of the wind!” RPM Nautical Foundation (RPMNF) founder George Robb bellows into a walkie-talkie from his seat in the boat’s control room, deep in the belly of the ship. “Winch going out, winch going out!”
Up on the deck, twp crew members ease the massive, million-dollar SeaEye Panther Plus remotely operated vehicle (ROV) off the stern. With two spindly arms and a boxy frame, the submarine robot resembles a cross between R2-D2 and a construction crane. The SeaEye is about the size and weight of a golf cart, but a single Kevlar cord attached to its protective metal cage holds it up and out over the water. The apparatus breaks the surface of the water, and the boat heaves from the sudden lightening of its load.
As robot and cage plunge into the Adriatic , a video feed streams from a camera bolted to the top of the cage to one of the dozen computer monitors in the sunless control room. “Give me TMS full-screen here,” Robb calls out. “Is it off? Kill it and reopen it.” The monitor goes blank and then flickers on again. Next to Robb, ROV operator Kim Wilson fiddles with a joystick, his lips clamped shut. He has the silent intensity of a boy steering a remote-controlled car. “Give me lights!” Robb shouts. Wilson flicks a switch and another camera–there are six in total–reveals the sea as a crystal-clear. turquoise expanse punctuated only by air bubbles. RPMNF archaeologist Jeff Royal inches forward on his leather recliner to get a better view.
This feature in Antike Welt (Ancient World, Journal of Archaeology and Cultural History) focuses on the last battle between Rome and Carthage and the archaeological finds, specifically the ram discovered by RPM Nautical Foundation.
Evidence of Rome’s decisive victory over Carthage is discovered in the waters off Sicily
In his work The Histories, the second-century B.C. Greek historian Polybius chronicles the rise of the Romans as they battle for control of the Mediterranean. The central struggle pits the Romans against their archenemies the Carthaginians, a trading superpower based in North Africa. For 23 years, beginning in 264 B.C., the two rivals fought what became known as the First Punic War.
As Polybius tells it, the war came to a head in 242 B.C. with both powers exhausted and nearly broke after two decades of fighting. The Carthaginian general Hamilcar Barca–the father of a later adversary of Rome, Hannibal–was pinned down on a mountaintop above the city of Drepana, now the Sicilian town of Trapani. As the Carthaginians assembled a relief force, the Romans scraped together the money for a fleet to cut them off. According to Polybius, in March 241 B.C., the two sides met in between the Egadi Islands, a trio of rocky outcrops a few miles off the coast of Sicily. The clash brought hundreds of ships and thousands of men together in a battle that helped shape the course of history.
A strong of discoveries just a few miles off the coast of western Sicily are now supplying new evidence of that war and the battle that brought it to a close. Working from a well-equipped research vessel, a team from the United States and Italy has located what can only be artifacts from what is now known as the Battle of Egadi Islands.
New Dating and Contextual Evidence for the Fragmentary Timber Remains Located in the Dor D Site, Israel
The laboratory report for a wood-sample taken from one of the ship-timbers discovered at the Dor D site for C14 analysis is completed. This dating result indicates a potential revision for the group of timbers in this deposit and, consequently, new chronological contexts for their construction characteristics. Subsequent excavation and survey in the lagoon has resulted in a revised interpretation for the components of the Dor D deposit. Taken together, this new dating and contextual evidence helps to clarify what these timbers can and cannot contribute to the understanding of trends in ship construction.
During the authors’ excavation and recording of the timber remains from the Dor D area of Tantura Lagoon in 1999, a sample was taken from a timber for C14 dating analysis. This is the second sample from the group of timbers, the first one taken during the initial survey (Kingsley and Raveh, 1996: 65). The date from this more recent sample is divergent from previously-reported dates. Additionally, subsequent excavation and survey work in the lagoon through 2004 has shed new light on the interpretation of the Dor D site’s formation processes and the inter-relationship of its individual components (although Dor D itself was not re-excavated). This new dating and contextual evidence for the timbers necessitates a new contextualization of the construction features and the contribution this evidence makes to archaeological research.
Modern Tantura Lagoon is a small bay partially protected by four small offshore islands, and bordered to the north by a promontory where the site of Tel Dor lies (Fig. 1). Evidence suggests that it has served as a natural harbour for vessels of numerous cultures for more than 3000 years. Despite the partial land barriers, this bay is subject to open-sea storms that alternately remove, deposit, and redistribute sand.1 There is also a north-south current that maintains a cut through the bay, providing a navigable passage for small fishing vessels. Hence the sea-floor is in a perpetual state of flux and almost certainly has been for millennia. Within this environment, submerged cultural remains are periodically exposed and sometimes moved before being re-covered. The area designated as the Dor D site is located near numerous other previously-investigated sites within the bay, and lay beneath 2 m of water at the time of excavation. The timbers that comprise Dor D consisted of 14 fragmentary hull-planks situated within a matrix of sand, shells, ceramic fragments, and stones; no other ship-timbers such as a keel, frames, or posts were found in the immediate area. A generous estimate of the total area of planking-timber represented is approximately 4 m2 , with only two timber fragments over 3 m long; eight of the 14 timbers were 2 m or less in length. Ceramic fragments and stones were located throughout the site both atop and beneath the timbers.
Since the excavation of the Dor D site, much has been learned about site-formation in the Tantura Lagoon. Subsequent work includes the excavation of five wreck-sites (Dor C, DW2, Dor 2001/1, Dor 2002/2, and Tantura F), the digging of numerous test-trenches, and probe-surveys, which were carried out between 2000 and 2004. Using a water-jet probe; entries were made every 1 m on grids situated generally northwest of Dor D. Based on this more recent research in the lagoon, the site-formation processes for each of the artefact groups is much clearer.
As stated in a previous article (Kahanov and Royal, 2001: 257–8), the 14 planking-timbers were in varying degrees of degradation and had shell impressions on their upper surfaces, all of which suggest episodes of intermittent burial and exposure. These planks varied in their orientation, for example, planks 13–14 lay perpendicular and c.100–150 mm deeper than planks 1–5. Given the disjointed position of many planking fragments and the variation in their depths, it cannot be concluded that they all originated from the same vessel. However, the similarity in construction and fastening characteristics exhibited by all of these planking-timbers, discussed below, and their proximity to one another, supports their having originated from a single vessel (Kahanov and Royal, 2001). Therefore, this will be the premise for further discussion.
A mixture of amphora and other sherds, their dates spanning a millennium, as well as modern roofing tiles, was found throughout the Dor D site. The pottery was mainly Late Byzantine, often mixed with sherds dating to the 5th century BC.2 Ceramic fragments were found above, between, and beneath the timbers.3 Excavation and survey results subsequent to the 1999 season indicate that the ceramic deposit continues roughly in a north-north-westerly direction for at least another 150 m, and probably further. Indeed, similar ceramic deposits were noted in every area of the lagoon thus far explored from 1994 to 2004. This sherd-scatter was found across each of the excavations and surveys conducted through 2004, including the Tantura A and B sites and trenches IV, VII, and IX, all of which were excavated prior to 1999, as well as Trench 9, Dor 2001/1, and Tantura F excavated later (Carmi and Segal, 1995; Sibella, 1995; Kahanov and Royal, 1996; Kahanov, 1997; Royal and Kahanov, 2000; Mor, 2002). Although unpublished, a similar mixture of sherds was discovered during the excavation of the 5th-century BC Ma’agan Mikhael wreck-site located approximately 9 km south of Tantura lagoon. It is not yet determined how far the ceramic deposit extends from the Dor D site in other directions. With the primary current moving in a southward direction, it seems unlikely that the Dor D site represents the southern limit of this ceramic deposit. However, during particularly high seas, waves enter from the southwest contra the current inside the lagoon. These ceramic clusters apparently exist also in the northern bay of Tantura lagoon, just to the south of Tel Dor, now disconnected by a tombolo.
No grids or reference points for spatial or depth controls were employed during the collection of sherds at the Dor D site. The only reference points were utilized in the process of timber recording. Furthermore, numerous ceramic sherds remained under and around the site throughout the excavation period, and had not been recovered by the time of post-excavation reburial. The limited conclusions that can be drawn thus far from ceramic finds in Tantura Lagoon are that a significant amount of Byzantine activity, shipping and material probably passed through this anchorage. Due to the relatively ubiquitous nature of the ceramic deposits, and the continual movement to which they are subject, these cannot provide evidence for the dating or provenience of the Dor D timbers.
Shipwreck Discoveries from the 2005 Bozburun Peninsula Survey, Turkey
In 2004, INA President Donny Hamilton approached INA Director George Robb and myself about conducting a survey off the southeastern coast of the Bozburun peninsula. The project, during July of 2005, was a cooperative effort with the Turkish Ministry of Tourism and Culture represented by Commissioner Gulnaz Savran. I was particularly excited by investigating this area as I participated in the Bozburun shipwreck excavation directed by Fred Hocker from 1995-1998 and knew the ancient settlements of Physkos, Lorima, and Tios were in this area. Over the centuries, this segment of coast was part of an active trade route between these ancient cities as well as Rhodes, Ephesus, and Knidos.
Shipwreck Discoveries and their Analyses
During a month-long survey of the coastline along the south-eastern Bozburun peninsula, Turkey, nine shipwreck sites were discovered. Of these, five have historical significance and represent a chronological range from the Roman Imperial to Renaissance periods. This article provides a description of the sites and associated artefacts, and attempts a provisional analysis for each wreck’s operational date as well as the nature of the finds in their historical context.
The picturesque Turkish coast features a profusion of finger-like projections where sparsely-vegetated cliffs are battered by waves. On the south-easternmost portion of one particular isthmus in the Aegean Sea, the Bozburun peninsula, the ancient settlements of Physkos, Lorima and Tios were founded. Over the centuries, this segment of coast was part of an active trade route between the ancient cities of Rhodes to the south and Knidos to the west, and part of the greater Aegean and eastern Mediterranean mercantile network. During the summer of 2005, a coastal survey of this shoreline was undertaken to locate and document submerged cultural remains. This co-operative project was carried out by the Turkish Ministry of Tourism and Culture, represented by Commissioner Gulnaz Savran, the Institute of Nautical Archaeology (INA), and RPM Nautical Foundation (RPM), a non-profit institute dedicated to nautical archaeology research. Founded by INA director George Robb junior in 2000, one of RPM’s aims is to support INA projects all over the world.
INA has been carrying out expeditions along this section of coast over the past 40 years. During the summers of 1965, 1967 and 1968, Dr George Bass led survey expeditions in response to reports of archaeological finds by sponge fishermen during the 1950s, noted by Peter Throckmorton. In 1968, 26 of 145 side-scan sonar images obtained in previous seasons were investigated and a scattered, unidentified wreck was located at 100 m (Bass, 1976: 29–30). Bass led subsequent side-scan surveys along the south-west Turkish coast, including the Bozburun peninsula, in 1973, 1974, and 1980, and documented an apparently-looted wreck-site near Marmaris in 30 m, as well as several near-shore dump sites, including one near ancient Loryma (Rosloff, 1981: 277–81; Bass, 1982: 45–7). Also located along this section of coast is the small Bay of Serçe Limani where Drs Bass and van Doorninck excavated the 11th-century Byzantine glass wreck in 1977–79, and where Cemal Pulak excavated a Hellenistic wreck in 1978–80 (Pulak and Townsend, 1987; Bass and van Doorninck, 2004). More recently, in 2004, Jeremy Green of the Western Australian Maritime Museum and Faith Hentschel of INA returned to the area from where a bronze statue was reported to have been raised in 1953. A limited side-scan survey produced numerous anomalies; unfortunately, equipment problems and poor sea-conditions hampered the verification process (pers. comm. Jeremy Green, 2005).
2005 objectives and survey area
Considering the advanced technology available, the nature of the survey area according to Green, and the information on reported wreck-sites in a wider area provided by George Bass and Tufan Turanli of INA, the scope of the 2005 campaign was significantly expanded from previous expeditions. Our objectives were to conduct a systematic multibeam survey of the entire southeastern coast from near-shoreline out to a depth of 100 m, and subsequently to locate and document all significant cultural deposits. The survey area extended approximately 37 km from Kadirga Burun at the north-east, just outside the Marmaris approaches, to Bozuk Bükü near the peninsula’s south-western end (Fig. 1). Over 120 km2 were completed, from close inshore to the 80-m contour. The vast majority of this designated area had not been surveyed previously. Considering the greatly increased scope of the 2005 survey relative to previous seasons, the objectives no longer centred on the search for a single hypothesized vessel. Rather, the goals were to locate, document, identify, and assess all submerged archaeological sites within the designated survey area.
This portion of coast is dominated by cliffs which plummet into the sea to depths of 30–50 m. Thereafter, a sandy sea-floor with a relatively gentler gradient is typically encountered until reaching the Rhodes channel. Exposed rocks and small islands dot the coastline, forming natural hazards for maritime traffic. Two particularly interesting small bays within the survey area are Bozuk Bükü, at the end of which the ancient city of Loryma was situated, and the bay of Serçe Limani, which has produced several noteworthy shipwreck sites.
Survey was conducted by RPM Nautical Foundation’s two research vessels: the R/V Hercules and R/V Juno. Both are equipped with multibeam echosounders among other remotesensing, verification, and analysis equipment. Based on field experience and the nature of sea- floor in the survey area, the multibeam systems were deemed to have the best potential for locating cultural resources. A dual-head system for depths up to 100–120 m is fixed to the Hercules, and a single-head system for depths up to 45 m on the Juno. Accordingly, the Juno surveyed the areas from the coastline to the 45-m contour, while the Hercules surveyed the deeper area. Multibeam survey provides three-dimensional data that can provide highly-detailed topographical maps of the sea-floor, making it possible to exclude many of the geological anomalies which often plague two-dimensional side-scan images, as well as providing a better overall context for all anomalies. This is important as a pile of amphoras or ballast-stones appears very similar to geological formations, which results in significantly more spurious anomalies in side-scan images than in those from multibeam. Moreover, low-profile mounds formed by shipwreck sites can more easily be missed in side-scan survey, and positioning information for multibeam data is much more precise. The 2005 multibeam survey area, therefore, included the entire coastline regardless of previous side-scan survey work.
Multibeam data was processed onboard the R/V Hercules and subsequently reviewed for potential shipwreck sites, which were plotted for investigation with the remote operated vehicle (ROV). Outfitted with still and video cameras, lights, and sonar, ROV deployments always recorded video for documentation; where wrecksites were located, both still and video photography were used. An experimental laser device attached to the ROV provided a photographic scale that assisted in the identification of individual objects and the construction of preliminary site-plans.
To date, a total of 77 anomalies have been identified in the multibeam data. Each of these was assessed on their resemblance to geological formations or potential cultural remains, in order to prioritise verification efforts. Two anomalies located by the Juno, designated as sites TK05-AA and TK05-AG, were clearly discernable as shipwrecks in the multibeam imagery. Both vessels appeared modern, intact, and had little sign of burial, so were designated for diver verification at a later time. Of the remaining 75 anomalies, 29 (39%) were investigated by ROV during the 2005 field season, and 7 of these 29 (24%) were shipwreck sites. The following is a preliminary assessment for these nine shipwrecks.