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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.