This article in The INA Quarterly, Magazine of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, describes RPM Nautical Foundation’s first large-scale coastal survey of Albania in 2007. Focuses include: areas surveyed, wrecksites discovered, and one particular site and its archaeological finds, as well as the potential for future field seasons in the Albania coast.
and Implications for the Interpretation of Nearby Sites
During underwater survey around Crotone, Calabria, Italy, in 2005, structures from two harbour phases were located, possibly dating from the Archaic Greek and Roman periods. Both harbours are close to the Greek and Roman architectural remains on Capo Colonna, as well as to underwater deposits of large stone blocks and other, previously-excavated sites. With the discovery of these harbour structures, new hypotheses arise for understanding the building-material deposits and excavated sites. A critical component of these hypotheses is the assessment of local geological data, specifically ancient sea-level, in relation to the archaeological record.
In 2005 RPM Nautical Foundation conducted a survey along the Ionian coast of Calabria, Italy. Beginning at the town of Crotone, the survey area extended approximately 35 km to the south and south-west past Capo Rizzuto (Fig. 1). The project was carried out in conjunction with the Archaeological Superintendent’s Office of Calabria, represented by Drs F. Prosperetti and A. Zaratinni, the Institute of Nautical Archaeology (INA), and Texas A&M University graduate student Dante Bartoli. Among the project’s goals were to map and document known and newly discovered sites. The structural remains of harbours as well as five deposits of architectural building materials were located and recorded in the c.3-km Punta Scifo-Capo Colonna area (Fig. 2; Table 1). Three of these deposits were already known to the Superintendent’s office. Although other sites were discovered and mapped in the overall survey area, this paper will focus only on the sites in the Punta Scifo-Capo Colonna area. The subsequent analysis of the harbours’ locations, as well as their probable periods of operation in the context of the area’s geological history, provides a new interpretative context for the building-material deposits. This study attempts to form hypotheses regarding the formation and deposition of these sites by taking into account the archaeological, geological, and historical evidence.
Multibeam survey was conducted by RPM Nautical Foundation’s research vessels R/V Hercules and R/V Juno. The Juno surveyed from near shore to the 30-m contour, while the Hercules surveyed between the 30- and 60-m contours. Multibeam data was processed on board the Hercules and reviewed for potential sites, which were investigated by divers and a remote operated vehicle (ROV).
The sites in this study were shallow and explored by divers, who employed hand-fanning and metal-detectors and recorded each site by taking photographs and sample measurements. Overall site measurements were obtained in the models derived from the multibeam data.
Previous archaeological investigations
Prior to the 2005 expedition there had been several surveys and excavations within the study area. One of the first formal expeditions was Paolo Orsi’s excavation of a site off Punta Scifo in 1908, 1909, and 1915 (Orsi, 1921). This site was c.50 × 50 m, c.200 m offshore and 6–7 m deep. An estimated 150 tons of whole or broken marble objects were recovered from this large area, including basins, columns, blocks, stands, tables, and altars. Ship timbers were recorded among the marble objects, including oak and light-coloured planks with iron bolts and treenails connecting them to frames (Orsi, 1921: 493–4), construction characteristics typical of the Roman era. An inscription on one column, now in the Capo Colonna museum, places its manufacture at c.200 AD (Degrassi, 1952: 55–6). Much of the material from this find now decorates a roundabout in Crotone (Fig. 3). About 7 km south of Capo Colonna is Capo Cimiti where, in 1959, a purported cargo of five columns was discovered less then 50 m offshore at a depth of c.8.5 m (Franciscis and Roghi, 1961). These were mapped and confirmed in our survey. Samples from the columns, which probably date to the Roman period, indicate that the marble is cipollino (Pensabene, 1978: 105). Pensabene also continued the study of the Punta Scifo finds when, in 1975, he catalogued Orsi’s finds, housed in various local museums, and recorded numerous other marble objects still on the site (Pensabene, 1978). This revised catalogue provided more comprehensive descriptions for many pieces and confirmed Orsi’s dating of the site. Over the following three decades, little systematic work was carried out in the area, although several large piles of blocks were widely known to rest near the shore. In 2003 Dante Bartoli brought this area to the attention of INA, and which led to this 2005 survey project. Although some sites were generally known to the Superintendent’s Office and locally, there were no existing site-names, so each site was designated within the project’s site numbering scheme to facilitate discussion and analysis.
Description and Analysis of the Finds from the 2006 Turkish Coastal Survey: Marmaris and Bodrum
In the summer of 2006, RPM Nautical Foundation continued its survey along the south-western Turkish coast. After completing the verification of anomalies along the south-east Bozburun peninsula close to Marmaris, a new survey was conducted along the coast near Bodrum. Additional shipwrecks were discovered, those of historic interest ranging in date from Roman Republican to Ottoman. This report describes the shipwreck sites and some of the random finds along the Bozburun coast, as well as the depositional characteristics in the Bodrum approaches.
In August 2006 two areas along the south-west Turkish coast were surveyed: the south-east Bozburun peninsula and the Bodrum approaches. The initial phase of the project was to complete the ROV verification of anomalies discovered along the Bozburun coast during multibeam surveys in 2005 (Fig. 1). Operations were initially based in Turunc, just south-west of Marmaris. Once the work in this area was completed, the base was moved to Turgutreis from where the first part of a multibeam survey of the Bodrum approaches was carried out, covering the western section of the approaches, where several anomalies were checked to determine its potential for wreck-sites.
South-eastern Bozburun peninsula
Survey work along the south-east portion of the Bozburun Peninsula consisted of anomaly verification with the ROV; no multibeam survey was conducted this season. Multibeam survey in 2005 covered a majority of the 37-km2 area of coastline from near shore to the 100-m contour, and produced 68 anomalies of which 32 were checked during that season. Two were intentionally unverified as they were obvious modern wrecks. An upgraded programme for the visualization of multibeam data, obtained after the 2005 season, provided an improved review of the 2005 data. This re-analysis produced 37 additional anomalies, making a total of 105. As 34 anomalies were accounted for in 2005, 71 remained for verification in 2006. ROV verification of the 32 anomalies in 2005 led to the identification of five historic-period and two modern wreck-sites. Verification operations in 2006 resulted in the discovery of three historic-period wrecks, one modern wreck, and one site of undetermined date, making the total number of wreck-sites found on this section of coast, within the 100-m contour, eight from the historic-period, five modern, and one undated. Such a high wreck-site to anomaly coefficient, in this case 13:105, illustrates one of the advantages that multibeam survey has over other methods in that the number of false anomalies is reduced.
Each of the wreck-sites discovered in the 2006 season was recorded with still and video photography. Although permission was granted for the raising of diagnostic artefacts, none was raised in either season as the local museums could not decide which should receive them. The following is a description of the wreck-sites and an analysis of the visible material, placing the sites in their historical context when applicable. One of the sites, the Ottoman I wreck, will be only briefly discussed as it remains under analysis.
Site TK06-AA: Ballast I Wreck
A shallow deposit of ballast-stones was located while maneuvering the ROV between anomalies. The site is mostly buried and on review of the multibeam data it is barely discernable. The majority of the stones are smooth and rounded, from fist- to head-size, and a consistent type of light-coloured rock (Fig. 2). They are in two discrete concentrations, the larger of which formed an ovoid deposit approximately 5 m in diameter and 20 cm high. No artefacts are situated between the stones or protruding from the sand forming the mound. A smaller deposit of stones, roughly 2 m in diameter, is located c.5 m away. In this smaller deposit, an apparently ceramic bowl was located lying atop the stones. This was removed in order to photograph it on clear sand, as it was the sole diagnostic artefact with the potential to identify the site (Fig. 2). The bowl is c.8 cm in diameter, stands nearly 5 cm high, and has a base c.5 cm in diameter. Its sides flare from the base to a vertical, rounded rim. Its ring-shaped base is squared in cross-section and forms a circular concavity at its centre. There are no markings, decorations, or distinctive features to indicate a cultural affiliation or date. Furthermore, it is not clear whether this bowl was deposited with the ballast-stones, or later. The overall remains indicate a small- to medium-sized sailing vessel which carried either no cargo, or a cargo leaving no remains. With only the bowl as evidence, and that not definitely related to the site, the date is presently unknowable.
Warship ram discovered…an ancient naval battle revealed?
This article describes a bronze warship ram discovered during RPM Nautical Foundation’s 2008 research expedition in Sicily. This find was of particular importance because it provided the first affirmation that the final battle of the First Punic War likely took place at this site (near Lavanzo Island). The ram was raised for conservation and in-depth analysis.
During the summer of 2006, the RPM Nautical Foundation carried out extensive surveys along the coasts of Turkey, Sicily, and Malta; work continued in Sicily during the 2007 field season. The goal was to document all submerged cultural resources from as near shore as feasible to the 100 m contour. Documentation for each site included mapping its precise location, an estimation of the site’s size and composition, a preliminary cultural resources identification, a determination of the date range, and a preliminary assessment of its historical context and potential for further study. The surveys were conducted with RPM’s research vessels, equipment with multibeam echosounder sonar systems and subsequently verified with an ROV.
Multibeam echosounder imagery has proven more effective for locating submerged cultural sites than either sidescan sonar or other remote sensing systems at these depths when properly analyzed. In conjunction, each site was thoroughly and extensively documented with video and digital photographic coverage, and when possible, diagnostic artifacts were collected for further analysis with the ROV.
Exploring History in the Mediterranean
Much of the equipment utilized by RPMNF has long been featured in the efforts of ocean-based industries, such as multibeam echo sounders, ROVs, beacon positioning systems, and vessels with dynamic positioning. It is the combination of these technologies that has proved successful. By the end of 2003, after years of planning, construction, and alterations, the research vessel Hercules was ready for project deployment. The 37-m long Hercules was specifically designed for archaeological survey and excavation in water depths greater than 30 metres. This archaeological research vessel is designed as a self-sufficient base for a wide range od project functions in moderate to relatively deep waters, with the majority of the work taking place in a coastal setting.
And Their Implications for Maritime History in the Eastern Mediterranean
Abstract: This paper summarises findings from three recently investigated Renaissance wrecks in deepwater discovered in the Straits of Rhodes and interprets them in the context of that fast-changing world. Taken together, these vessels of different type provide insight into the maritime infrastructure of European mercantile trade and political relations of the time, as well as the armament used during this contentious era.
Good friend, a storm is in fact a wind and thus it blows. But it is very strong, sometimes abnormally so. Rain storms are also known to have very strong gales. As the waves strike, the sea rises without limit. Those seeing this are amazed. Their vessels shake awesomely. Listen now while I tell you what they can do. They are driven where they would not go and God knows what things will happen there. They may sink at sea or be driven onto rocks. Lord deliver them from such a fate! Piri Reis, Kitab-ı Bahriye, v. 1, p. 71
In 2005 and 2006, with the collaboration of the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Department of Underwater Archaeology, RPM Nautical Foundation conducted a deepwater survey for shipwrecks in the Straits of Rhodes (Fig. 1). That survey located 14 wreck sites, 3 of which date to the Renaissance period, roughly 1450–1600 (Royal 2006, 2008a). Given the weapons found at each site, all three vessels were likely prepared for combat. In another study, we address the coastal geography of the region and the visible assemblage of each site (Royal and McManamon 2010). Here we propose to expand our analysis and examine each of the three vessels against the background of maritime history. In terms of strategy at sea, these finds are important because, by the fifteenth century, Europeans had begun to appreciate the effectiveness of guns on vessels, technically known as ordnance. Once placed on ships, early wrought-iron guns were primarily employed as anti-personnel weapons. Advances in manufacturing gradually led to increased reliability and range for the guns. As shipwrights mastered the technology of gun ports and the laws of stability, they built vessels capable of carrying enough guns to capture or sink enemy vessels (Guilmartin 1994; Parker 1996; Rodger 1996; DeVries 1998; Glete 2000, pp. 17–39). The dramatic foundering of Vasa approximately 1,500 m into its maiden voyage in August of 1628 illustrates the complicated relationship between form stability (shaping and reinforcing the hull) and weight stability (positioning the guns and ballasting the hull) (Hocker 2006). By summarising the visible components of each vessel’s assemblage, describing the interaction between vessel type and armament, and situating the three wrecks in their maritime historical context, we better understand patrolling by oared warships, tramping by small coasters, and trading by merchantmen from north western Europe. The rapid growth of corsairs early in the sixteenth century made Rhodes the ‘‘epicenter’’ of a naval struggle pitting Christian against Ottoman forces (Tenenti 1960, p. 263). The growing presence of English vessels in the eastern Mediterranean late in the same century added a new motive for conflict, as northern Europe undermined the domination of trade by Italian maritime cities.
Fieldwork along the eastern Adriatic coast in 2009 marked the initial campaign conducted and coordinated under the research initiative of the Illyrian Coastal Exploration Program (ICEP). The goals of the program, introduced in this publication (Royal 2009), are to bring together numerous research institutes in an effort to investigate the eastern Adriatic coast. At the core of this program is a survey of the littoral region, out to the c. 100-m contour, spearheaded by RPM Nautical Foundation (RPMNF). The goal of the survey is to document all submerged cultural finds in an effort to assist the countries involved with the protection and scholarly research of these finds. This process is underway in Albania and Montenegro, and efforts are underway to organize fieldwork in Croatia for 2011. Among the entities involved in the program are the Albanian Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Albanian Institute of Archaeology (AIA), Butrint National Trust (BNT), Montenegro Ministry of Culture, Regional Center for Underwater De-Mining (RCUD), Montenegro Center for the Protection of Cultural Heritage (CPCH), Institute of Nautical Archaeology, Trinity University-San Antonio, U.S. Embassy-Montenegro. Efforts of many individuals make the program possible, among them are Dr. Adrian Anastasi (AIA), Co-Director in Albania, Auron Tare (BNT), Veselin Mijajlovic (RCUD), and Dr. Vilma Kovacevic (CPCH).
Survey operations with a hull-mounted multibeam sonar were undertaken during May and June by RPMNF’s R/V Hercules. Detailed bathymetric data was collected first in Albania then continued in Montenegro (Figure 1). Overlapping survey lanes along the contours of the seafloor ensured 200% coverage of the seafloor and the ability to detect anomalies. Anomalies were verified primarily with a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) operated from the R/V Hercules, except for a few in shallow areas of c. 5-35 m of depth where divers were utilized in Albania. Once the research vessel was positioned over an anomaly location, the ROV was deployed. 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. Each site or submerged find was recorded with the ROV’s multiple video cameras. When deemed necessary, and conservation facilitates were available, objects were raised to assist in determining the date, provenience, and nature of the site or find. When geologic formations were encountered, they were scanned for cultural material that often is trapped when drag nets or currents push them onto rocks.
In addition to the multibeam survey, diver investigation was conducted in selected near-shore areas of Albania in order to gain an understanding of the presence of shallow-water material cultural. The dive team was expanded during the 2009 field season with the participation of volunteers from numerous organizations. Diver investigation included sections of coast all along the survey area. No beacons were attached to divers during operations; however, the locations of the dive boat, buoys placed at the furthest extents of the survey, and buoys at finds were recorded. Divers were armed with amphora identification slates, still cameras, scales, and drawing slates for recording finds.
In Albania, the 2009 multibeam survey addressed gaps and unfinished areas within the section surveyed during the 2008 season, and subsequently continued northwards (Figure 2). From the southernmost point at the Greek border, the survey has progressed northward to Porto Palermo in three seasons, a distance along the coast of c. 50 km. 1 Once the operation progressed north of Corfu (Greece), it was possible to extend the survey area further offshore out to the c. 80-100 m contour. The survey plan formulated for Montenegro for this inaugural season was based on the areas of interest of RCUD and CPCH representatives, particularly the bays of Kotor and Risan (Figure 3). Founded in the 5th century BCE, the city of Risan includes remains from the Illyrian and Roman eras as well as the medieval period. Additionally, the survey of the outer coastline began with the area directly opposite the entrance into Tivat Bay (Boka Kotorska) and extended Cape Mačka. Combined the surveyed areas of Kotor and Risan Bays was approximately 28 km2; the bays have a general depth of c. 30 m with a maximum of 60 m in spring holes. R/V Hercules approached very close to shore in some sections and also passed in depths as shallow as 12 m. The coverage area on the outer coast was c. 32.5 km2 and ranged from 17–100 m.
Data from the multibeam operations was processed during, and directly after, the collection phase to produce three-dimensional models of the seafloor, which was then analyzed for anomalies.2 Anomalies were examined for association with either geologic formations or deposits consistent with shipwreck sites, the latter were plotted for verification. Once mapped out in navigation and spatial recording software, the R/V Hercules navigated into position over anomalies and the ROV equipped with a transponder was deployed.3 The software also allowed the real-time tracking of the R/V Hercules and ROV within a three-dimensional seafloor model, and to obtain precise locations for sites and random finds. During verification operations, the locating of each anomaly, as well as stray material near anomalies and sites, was facilitated by a forward-scanning sonar affixed to the ROV. Once cultural material was located and positions recorded, a visual investigation ensued through the use of still and video cameras. Scale was provided with a laser affixed to the ROV that provides two 10-cm spaced points.
Since 2005, RPM Nautical Foundation (RPMNF) and the Superintendent’s Office of Underwater Archaeology in Sicily (Ufficio di Soprintendenza del Mare) have conducted a survey of coastal waters off the NW Sicilian coast. Over these past years, several areas have undergone intensive multibeam survey with ROV verification of anomalies (Figure 1). Efforts around the island of Levanzo, one of the Egadi Islands NW off of Trapani, have continued from 2005. In 2009, a project ventured into the southern coast, in the bay of Selinunte, to ascertain the efficacy of work in this region. A small survey was also conducted around Capo San Vito in 2007 and verification took place in 2009.
With a large amount of multibeam coverage completed from 2005–08, no additional multibeam survey was conducted during the 2009 season. A result of completing a considerable coverage area is a large number of anomalies that require verification. Although the number of anomalies is re-adjusted as new criteria and reviews are made, the number of unverified anomalies remains substantial. Based on experience and an evolving knowledge of the area’s seafloor topography, two strategies have developed for ROV operations. The majority of the survey area’s western sector (Figure 2) features closely-spaced, low, and relatively small rock outcrops that observations have shown to ensnare drag nets. As such, this area is largely undisturbed by fishing nets except on its periphery where material is dumped when nets are snagged. The densely-packed anomalies and protection from drag nets often require area searches in the western sector. A rather clear and abrupt demarcation exists between the rocky western sector and the sandy seafloor of the central sector. As the central sector is largely devoid of rock outcrops, drag nets have flattened the sand cover and little biological or cultural material survives. All that is left is a barren, flat landscape; the only features are long drag marks that criss-cross the seafloor and an occasional flat rock outcrop protruding from the sand. Any cultural material deposited here in antiquity has been recovered by fishing nets and/or moved to rocky areas and dumped. The survey area’s eastern sector is a patchwork of rock outcrops and open sandy stretches; hence, dragging has impacted to some degree this area as well. Although the few anomalies explored in the central sector indicate little probability of surviving material, the western and eastern sectors hold potential. The Levanzo I wreck, discussed below, is located in the eastern sector.
During the anomaly verification and area searches, random ceramic finds were located in the western and eastern sectors. A Roman-era commonware bowl and the upper portion of a Dressel 14 amphora were discovered in the eastern sector. Numerous random finds since 2006 have been found throughout this sector, the vast majority from the Roman era. Other finds noted but not recovered during operations in 2006-8 included the upper portions of Greco-Italic amphoras. Most of these amphoras were located on the edges of survey area’s central sector lying near rock outcrops (Figure 2); in a few instances the remains of snagged fishing nets were nearby. During the 2009 field season an intact Greco-Italic amphora was located here as well, and the decision was made to collect examples for analysis. Each of the amphora’s collected at the edge of the western sector were of the same type,—GrecoItalic—and possessed comparable dimensions and an asymmetry of their handles (Figure 3). This may indicate that these amphoras were produced at or near the same workshop, and at certainly a common time period. Once the locations of these amphoras from all seasons were plotted, there was a noticeable concentration in the NW section of the survey area where the rocky western section begins. Interestingly this is just slightly north of the Catherine D ram find location. The most likely scenario for these amphora finds is that they were dragged from somewhere in the flat central sector and deposited when the fishing nets snagged on rocks. Given the great similarity of the damaged amphoras, they likely originated from a single wreck site that settled in the central sector during the 4th-century BCE. Unfortunately, the site has been razed by nets and there may be nothing left of the site. Unlike near shore environments, the shallow sediments of deeper off-shore waters do not afford wreck sites the same protection; this is shown empirically in the Levanzo I wreck site investigation discussed below.
One of the anomalies in the eastern section of the survey area was a relatively modern wreck site (Sulfur Wreck, SI09-AA). This site lies in c. 50 m of water and it was therefore possible to deploy divers as well as the ROV on the site. The primary visible remains of this wreck is a cargo of raw sulfur ore that forms a low, flat deposit. All of the sulfur cargo was fist- to head-sized chunks; many were rough hewn but others appear to have regular edges associated with their being quarried. Generally the deposit was 1–2 layers thick. One sample chunk was raised and a sample was taken for analysis by the Superintendant’s Office. Some wood, possibly ceiling planks, was visible just beneath the shallow covering of sulfur ore as were several unidentified iron objects. The condition of the wood and the degree of encrustation, as well as form of the iron objects indicate a relatively modern date for the site. Based on the flat and relatively shallow nature of the surviving wreck site, it has likely been scrapped by fishing nets.
This article takes a look at the the Levanzo I wreck, discovered by RPM Nautical Foundation in 2006. Described here is the discovery of the wrecksite, its location, its condition and the condition of the artifacts–with a particular focus on the destructive influence of dragnets–as well as the excavation of the site in 2009.