Ventotene Islands, Italy 2009 Project
The 2009 Project
The first phase of the 2009 project was to finish off the side scan survey started in 2008. The filling in of this remaining area will complete the archaeological map started last year. Phase two consisted of the visual verification and recording (photography and video) of anomalies detected during the abovementioned survey. Phase three saw the AURORA team participate in deep diving operations aimed at obtaining high resolution video images of three sites. Last but not least, phase four saw the recovery of a sample of archaeological objects from two of the sites.
In order to achieve the abovementioned aims, the Trust deployed its Klein System 3900 side scan sonar which was deployed from the MV ISIS. The fish was towed along a series of predetermined lines which were laid out in a triangular form around the islands. This ensured the methodical coverage of the remaining area earmarked for survey.
Following the promising results obtained in 2008 (three potential ancient shipwrecks) the remaining survey area provided a further two targets worthy of further investigation.
Phase 2: ROV
The ROV was deployed to verify the five targets highlighted as ‘high priority’. All five targets turned out to be ancient shipwrecks dating back to various phases of the Roman period:
Site 1: a very well preserved shipwreck with cargo of mixed Spanish amphorae from Baetica carrying garum (Roman fish sauce) measuring approximately 15 metres long by 5 metres wide. The height of the amphorae, many if which are still stacked in their original position, is of just over two metres. Date: circa 1st Century AD.
Site 2: a very well preserved shipwreck with cargo of Italian wine amphorae (from Campania) measuring approximately 18 metres long and 5 metres wide. The height of the amphorae, many if which are still stacked in their original position, is of just over two metres. Date: circa 1st century BC.
Site 3: shipwreck with mixed cargo of mortaria (mortars) and Italian wine amphorae (from Campania) measuring approximately 13 metres long and 4 metres wide. The height of the mortaria pile is approximately one metre. Some amphorae can be observed emerging from under the pile of mortaria. Although divided into two this site is very well preserved. Date: circa 1st century AD.
Site 4: shipwreck with mixed cargo of Italian wine amphorae, glass frit, metal bars and as yet unidentified cylindrical objects. This site measures approximately 20 metres long and 5 metres wide and is relatively flat (not more that 50 cm off the seabed). Although not as complete as the first three sites the objects from this shipwreck are relatively well preserved. Date: circa 1st century AD.
Site 5: Site 2: a very well preserved shipwreck with a cargo of North African amphorae (carrying garum) measuring approximately 12 metres long and 4 metres wide. The height of the amphorae, many if which are still stacked in their original position, is of just over two metres. Date: circa 5th century AD.
Phase 3: Deep water dives
We used the ROV’s video data to select three of the five sites for deep sea operations aimed at obtaining high resolution video images. Top Italian underwater photographer, Roberto Rinaldi, worked with the AURORA Trust and the Ministero dei beni Culturali and was assisted by dive expert Marco Donato.
Phase 4: Recovery
In order to better understand the discovered sites it was decided to recover a sample of objects from two of the shipwrecks. In a delicate, well-planned operation supported by a fantastic team of Carabinieri divers, four mortaria were recovered from site 3 and one amphora from site 1. These were transferred to the museum of Ventotene where they will be desalinated, restored and eventually displayed.
The Trust is planning to return to Ventotene in the summer of 2010. It is envisaged that a sub bottom profiler will be deployed over the 5 shipwrecks so as to determine the extent of the site buried in under the sediment. Furthermore, the ROV will be deployed to carry out more photographic recording of the sites and if deemed necessary samples of objects from other sites will be recovered.
For photos of project click (here)