Italy Shipwreck Archaeology

In 2008 ProMare began a long-term endeavor in Italy, in the heart of the ancient Mediterranean, to develop a Center of Marine Research in collaboration with the Italian Ministry of Culture and Artistic Heritage. Between 2008 and 2011 ProMare has sponsored and participated in research projects in Latium, Tuscany, and Calabria.

In Latium, between Rome and Naples, ProMare funded the recovery of a unique marble statue lost in the first century B.C. at the bottom of a fishpond on the island of Ventotene. The statue, representing a Roman magistrate wearing a toga, was raised from the bottom of the fishpond where it had been lost for nearly 2,000 years. The piece was brought to the local museum in Ventotene, where it is undergoing conservation and restoration prior to being placed on public display.

In the Tuscan archipelago, three projects have shed new light on ancient seafaring in the Tyrrhenian Sea. After sponsoring part of a preliminary excavation of a first-century B.C., 65-meters deep, wreck with a cargo of ten dolia on Elba Island, ProMare’s archaeologists took part in a state-of-the-art AUV survey off Pianosa Island in partnership with the NATO Underwater Center in La Spezia, and assisted the Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici della Toscana in excavating a Roman shipwreck with a cargo of Campanian A and B pottery, 18 meters deep, off the Island of Capraia.

In Calabria, ProMare surveyed the shallow waters of the Ionian coastline south of Croton, one of the most ancient Greek cities of Magna Graecia. There, the team spent two field seasons recording alterations in the coastline since antiquity and creating a complete GIS map of all shipwrecks in the area, including inundated terrestrial sites, such as Croton’s submerged quarry of column-drums and rectangular blocks. The latter feature is a clear indication of the dramatic changes that Calabria’s coast has undergone since antiquity.

ProMare is actively engaged in the publication of our research and fieldwork activities, and is also launching new projects throughout Italy, as time and funding permits.