Topic ID #36599 - posted 1/11/2016 4:20 AM

2016 Surveying the Roman Mediterranean Ports of Portus Julius (Naples) and Sanisera Port (Menorca).


Surveying the Roman Mediterranean Ports. Underwater Archaeology in Portus Iulius “Underwater Pompeii” (Baia Underwater Park, Naples Bay – Italy) and Sanisera Port (Menorca – Spain)

1. General Information

The Sanisera Archaeology Institute for International Field Schools offers annual programs in archaeology. This course is designed for students from around the world interested in studying abroad, gaining knowledge in Roman cities, classical archaeology and underwater archaeology.

This underwater archaeology course consists of two main parts:

During the first part of the course students will participate in an underwater archaeology survey. Immersions will focus on an underwater archaeological survey, exploring the Ancient Port of Sanitja and the coast of the Cape of Cavalleria. The aim of this project is to identify structures of the Roman city of Sanisera and underwater shipwrecks, as well as the associated cargo including amphoras and anchors.

The second part of the course consists of studying the submerged archaeological remains of Portus Iulius of the Baia Underwater Park. In order to do this, participants will travel to Naples Bay, Italy.

Part 1. Discover Amphora & Shipwrecks in the Underwater Port of Sanitja (Menorca, Spain)

Over the past eight years, The Underwater School in Archaeology has researched the ancient port of Sanitja via an intensive survey program. We have discovered 18 Roman shipwrecks with cargo, including amphora, and more than 10 anchors from different time periods.

There will be a minimum of 7 immersions focusing on underwater archaeological survey exploring the Ancient Port of Sanitja and the coast of the Cape of Cavalleria. The aim of this project is to identify structures of the Roman city of Sanisera and underwater shipwrecks, as well as the associated cargo including amphoras and anchors.

Course time dedicated: 50%.

 Part 2. Study Submerged Archaeological Remains in Portus Iulius (Pompeii, Italy)

The Underwater Pompeii site is located in the bay of Naples and is managed by Baia Underwater Park. Underwater surveys show that Roman buildings are about 400 meters away from the present coastline, at a depth of approximately 9 meters. Underwater and aerial surveys have shown numerous submerged archaeological remains. Evidence of the submersion of the coast can be found in the ruins of the Temple of Venus, which today is about 3 meters below the quay of the port. Nearby, on the other side of the bay, two monumental complexes were also found: a villa belonging to the Pisoni family and a bath complex with a nymphaeum.

Another submerged archaeological site that participants will study is Portus Iulius, a port which sank during Roman times. It was built in 37 B.C. by Agrippa and Octavian, and was abandoned in 12 B.C., merely 25 years after its extremely expensive construction. Later on, it was submerged due to several ground movements –Bradyseism- and volcanic activities including Vesuvius.

The coast’s unique atmosphere even attracted emperors. For instance, Caligula celebrated his elevation to divinity by building a pontoon crossing the area, which he then rode over wearing the armor of Alexander. Emperor Claudius often visited Baia. Nero was so fond of this place that he ended up conceiving grandiose projects there, one of them being conveying all spa waters into a large basin intended to link Miseno with the Averno.

In 2006 the Baia Underwater Archaeological Park was created, the first of its kind in Italy. Because of this project we can visit these magnificent ancient ruins. The uniqueness of the archaeology in Naples Bay, both on land and underwater, has made this site famous worldwide.

There will be a minimum of 8 immersions focusing on the recognition of structures and archaeological remains in Portus Iulius to make a detailed map of the Roman port infrastructure and analyze the spatial distribution of all objects we will find underwater.

Course time dedicated: 50%.

Students will also attend lectures on Roman History, shipwrecks, Roman Amphoras, Ancients Ports and methods on archaeological survey. 

2. What you will learn

In the Fieldwork

§  How to survey and which archaeological techniques are used.

§  Use and handling of the tools that are used during the survey process.

§  Recording data obtained during the survey.

§  Study submerged archaeological remains in Baia Underwater Park

§  Practice in the recognition of archaeological materials and Roman finds from the II century B. C. to VI A. D. in the Underwater Port of Sanitja.

§  Practice in the recognition of structures and archaeological remains in Portus Iulius to make a detailed map of the Roman port infrastructure and analyze the spatial distribution of all objects we will find underwater.

In the Laboratory

§  Recording data obtained during the survey -diary and systematic methodology sheets-.

§  Study and typological classification of archaeological Roman objects discovered during the underwater survey.

§  Relative dating based on the classification of the archaeological objects discovered during the survey.


§  Underwater Archaeological background of Sanisera.

§  Ancient trade in Sanisera and the Western Mediterranean Sea.

§  Ancient navigation.

§  Modern sail merchant ships (centuries 16th - 20th).

§  History, archaeology, economy and culture of the Roman civilization.

§  Introduction to the History of the Sanisera Site.

§  Minorcan archaeology before the Roman conquest of the Balearic Islands.


3. Directed at

If you are interested in gaining experience, practicing diving and learning the techniques and methodology used for surveying in different seabed, identifying the most diverse archaeological materials that can be discovered in underwater Roman archeology, this course is the best option for you.

In the Roman port of Sanisera (Menorca , Spain ), in a privileged landscape, you can dive into different depths with wide visibility, learning how to recognize remains of amphoras, anchors and Roman shipwrecks with which you will practice the survey method and the applied registration system (photographic documentation in 2D and 3D, drawing, classification of amphoras, ... ).

In one of the most unique ports of the Roman world, Portus Iulius (Naples, Italy), you will investigate a unique and exceptional seabed, one of the best in the field of underwater archeology. You will dive and practice design techniques to make the submerged port mapping and spatial study of the distribution of archaeological materials to be discovered. You should know that in Portus Iulius you will identify objects rarely found in other submerged sites, like marble, columns, remains of sculptures , embossed stucco, tiles, glass, ... ).

After finishing this course, the training and experience gained will help you to decide if underwater archaeology is the area of research that you wish to focus on or if you want to continue on with underwater archaeology as a future profession. You will have also visited the most iconic and remarkable Roman underwater archaeological sites in the Mediterranean.   

Previous knowledge or experience in archaeology or computer systems is not required.

4. Field School life & language

The field school course has a length of 18 days and will start in Spain. Students will meet in Menorca on the first day of the course. During the first 7 days participants will focus on the underwater archaeology fieldwork in the ancient port of Sanitja, exploring and surveying the port of Sanitja and the coast of the Cape of Cavalleria. The aim of this project is to identify structures of the Roman city of Sanisera and underwater shipwrecks, as well as the associated cargo including amphoras and anchors.

Continuing the course schedule, between days 8 and 10 we will go on excursions, rest and transfer by plane to Naples to start the survey project in Baia Underwater Archaeological Park.

Between days 11 and 18, we will use 6 days diving and making the planimetry of the port and studying the submerged objects in Portus Iulius. Other two dives are directed to visit the remains of the submerged roman villas of Punta Epitaffio. In addition, participants will also visit the Roman ruins of the city of Pompeii.

Participants will then return to Menorca for the last two days of the program which are free course days.  

The course runs six hours per day. The course is taught in English, Spanish and Italian.

5. Options

To participate in diving activities, it is necessary to have a diving certificate that will allow you to dive up to 18 meters in depth.  For this reason, we have designed two groups to choose from our underwater archaeology course: with or without a diving certificate.


Group 1. Without a diving certificate: Those that do not have a diving certificate should choose this group.

Group 2. With certificate: Those that have a diving certificate from an internationally recognized organization (i.e. PADI), should choose this group. 



6. Medical Check

On the first day of the course, participants have to show a medical document stating that he/she is fit for diving activities. Participants that do not have this document on the first day will not be allowed to participate until they are able to present this document.


7. Certificates

At   the   end   of   the field program,   students   will   receive a certificate of participation stating the hours and activities of the course.

Participants that perform exceedingly well in the course may receive a letter of recommendation from our organization upon request.


8. Sessions & Cost




Session #1

2016 | April 12 – April 29

$ 2600

Session #2

2016 | May 01 – May 18 

$ 2600

Session #3

2016 | May 21 – June 07

$ 2600

Session #4

2016 | June 10 – June 27

$ 2600

Session #5

2016 | June 30 – July 17

$ 2600

Session #6

2016 | July 20 – August 06

$ 2600

Session #7

2016 | August 09 – August 26

$ 2600

Session #8

2016 | August 29 – September 15

$ 2600

Session #9

2016 | September 18 – October 05 

$ 2600

Session #10

2016 | October 08  – October 25 

$ 2600

Session #11

2016 | October 28  – November 14

$ 2600


Course fee includes:


·      Accommodation.

·      Course tuition.

·      Tanks, tank filling and weights.

·      Daily transportation to/from the research site.

·      Breakfast, lunch and dinner.

·      Accident insurance at the site.

·      Included excursion.

·      Open water diving certificate (PADI) for those in group # 1.

·      Flight to Menorca – Naples / Naples – Menorca (students can only take a cabin bag weighing up to 10 kg with maximum dimensions of 55cm x 40cm x 20cm).

·      Accommodation in Hotel Arco Felice (Naples Bay).

·      Archaeological immersions at Baia Underwater Park

·      Transportation from the Hotel Arco Felice to the diving centre at Baia Underwater Park.

·      Certificate of participation


Airfare not included from the student home to/from Menorca.

During the days in Naples meals are not included (only 8 days of the 20 days course, although we will recommend cafés and restaurants that do not exceed the average of 20€/day in meals).

Entry tickets to museums and historical buildings are not included. 

9. Spaces Available

The course is limited to 8 participants per session. Reservations are only effective when payment of the registration fee is received. If for any reason the  course  is  cancelled,  payment  is  returned  according  to  the  field school refund policy.


10. Equipment Needed

We encourage participants to bring their own dive gear; however, a complete set of diving equipment (with the exception of mask and snorkel which each participant must bring) can be rented at the reduced cost of 18 Euro per day.


11. Information and Reservations              

For more information, contact:


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