Underwater archaeology projects
A maritime archaeology project can be anything from a non-vocational wreck
documentation to large official investigations. This list offers a selection of
more or less current project. The list is far from complete.
- Kronan. The largest underwater archaeology
project in Sweden is the excavation of 126 gun battleship Kronan. Built in 1668, and sunk in battle
with 800 men in 1676. Found in 1980 on 27 m depth. There are plans to raise the entire ship side.
- The wreck of Fredricus and Marstrand harbour
excavation, Bohusläns Museum, excavated in 1998. The finds are being conserved and analysed.
- The Gyldenlöwe project. Investigating the wreck of a presumed Danish warship sunk off the
Swedish west coast around 1680. Contact Björn Åkerlund.
- The Mast Wreck. Unidentified 17 m long wreck in the Bråviken
Bay. One mast still standing. Investigated 1997-98. Dendro dated to first half of
- Wreck survey of Lake Vänern. This is Europe's third largest sweetwater lake, now
investigated by Vänermuseet.
- The Danish-Lübeck navy off Visby. In 1566, 15-35 warships
sank in a storm off Visby, Gotland. 5000 men died. Only minor fragments have since been found in the
bottom sand. But the sonogram (see linked page) by Sture Hultquist shows that a survey might be
- Ocean Discovery. This society searches
deep-sea wrecks east of Öland Island. Not necessarily archaeology, but wreck documentation anyway.
Other Nordic & Baltic projects
- NTNU, the Norwegian
University of Science & Technology, conducts various Norwegian projects that are presented on
their excellent web site. One other project not mentioned there is "Ormen
- Viborg Bay / Svensksund,
diving in Russia at the site of the Swedish-Russian battle in the Viborg Bay, a few days before the
following battle of Svensksund in 1790. Some finds are already exhibited in the Viborg historical
museum, Russia. In 1994 it started as a joint Russian-Swedish project. From 1997 it is a purely
- Vrouw Maria. Dutch trading ship sunk on ca 42 m depth
in 1771, located in 1999, investigations started in 2000, and will continue for several years.
- St Michael sank on 42 m depth in 1747 off the Finnish coast,
loaded with treasure. Investigated by the Maritime Museum of Finland. The project will continue for
- Prince Gustav Adolf. Swedish man-of-war sunk in battle against the Russian navy in 1788.
Discovered in 1995 by the Finnish navy at 20-25 m depth near Helsinki. Investigated by the
Maritime Museum of Finland,
and then converted to an underwater park for visitors.
Text in Swedish. Photo by Petri Puromies.
- The Nydam boats, Nydam, Denmark.
Sacrificial bog finds from 200-450 AD. In 1863, weapons, two intact ships and remains of a third were
discovered in the bog. One boat was salvaged. During 1984-1997 the old site has been excavated again.
- Tybrind Vig Stone Age settlement, Denmark. The
fieldwork is finished but reports and analysis will take years.
- Deep Baltic mystery ship. Discovered on deep water in 2002,
masts standing, maybe mid-18th century. Now waiting to be investigated. When will the
- Warships off Rügen. In 1712 a Swedish navy unit landing troops on Rügen, Germany, was
attacked by a Danish unit. About 40 ships were reported sunk. The remains have not been located but
may be hidden under the bottom sand.
Projects elsewhere in Europe
Sea Projects. In 1997 INA & Kiev University started investigating the Black Sea. This has a great
potential considering that the Black Sea is anaerobic below 200 m depth. Where there is no oxygen,
wrecks can be preserved for millennia. Any finds on these depths have to be investigated with ROV or
submarine. Also, there is evidence suggesting that the Black Sea was flooded sometime 5500-5000 BC.
Thus remains of prehistoric settlements may be found underwater. And indeed there was: In 2000 an
intact 1500 old ship was found on 300 m depth, and a Stone Age settlement was found on 100 m depth.
- Skerki Bank, Mediterranean. In 1977 the sea bottom between
Sicily and Tunisia was investigated for a planned pipeline, by the Italian company Snam Progetti.
This was along an old trade route and several shipwrecks were found, some as deep as 500 m. Based on
these observations, the shipwreck "density" in this area has been estimated to 6.6/km2. In
1989 the ROV Jason located a Roman wreck on ca 750 m depth, that was named
"Isis". In 1995 three more wrecks were found in the same area. In
1997 the ROV Jason was used together with US navy nuclear sub NR-1 and more wrecks were found again.
In 1998 Dr Robert Ballard/The Jason Project participated.
References: National Geographic April '98, AM McCann & J Freed: Deep Water Archaeology
(Journal of Roman Archaeology supplementary series, 1994). Link:
- Cap Ognina, Syracuse, Sicily. Remains of approximately
10 wrecks have been excavated
since 1995. They are from 5th century BC till 12th century AD. The location is close to Syracuse on 6
m depth. For several consecutive seasons this has been a co-project with the DEGUWA.
- ScapaMAP, documenting Scapa Flow, UK, since 2000.
- EU project to protect underwater cultural heritage, 2001-2004
Melkarth shipwreck, Phoenician wreck in the western Mediterranean, perhaps from 500 BC.
Located on great depth and video filmed with ROV in 1998 by Greg Stemm,
Odyssey Marine Exploration, as part of a commercial deep-sea
- San Pedro De Alcantara, Portugal. Spanish warship sunk in
1786 loaded with copper and Peruvian prisoners. Investigations by Jean-Yves Blot annually during
1988-1999. The finds are being conserved and analysed. Swedish abstract.
- São Julião da Barra, Portugal. Portuguese nao sunk in
1606. Excavated by the CNANS 1996-2000.
- The Actium
Project. Trying to locate the site of the great battle in 31 BC,
when Anthony and Cleopatra lost against Octavian. At least 60 Roman warships, and many more
Roman/Egyptian, were sunk. The sea bottom is partly investigated by the University of South Florida
and the Greek Ministry of Culture. Several round stones have been found, perhaps ancient catapult
- Investigations in Guadalquivir River,
Spain. In 138-130 BC, a lighthouse was constructed by the Roman consul Quinto Servilio Caepi. The
remains have possibly been located, partially buried by sand. Investigated by
Gines Saez Hernández. (correspondence in Spanish)
- Project Rafaello, Sicily, Italy, since 1999.
- Port of Alexandria. The ancient port
of Alexandria is (1999) investigated by two separate research groups. The French archaeologist
Jean-Yves Empereur is investigating the outside, including the ancient lighthouse of Pharos. The team
of Franck Goddio is investigating the interior of the port, trying to locate queen Cleopatra's
palace. One large merchant ship from Cleopatra’s time has been located.
& Menouthis are submerged on c 8 m depth in the Bay of Aboukir,
near Alexandria. They are discovered and investigated by Franck
Goddio. US seismologist Amos Nur believes that the land area sank or
was shaken down below sea level during several earthquakes, the last maybe
as recent as 10th century AD. Another explanation is that the cities were
washed away by a severe Nile flood in 741 or 742 AD.
French navy at Aboukir. In 1798, the English navy took the French by surprise, sinking 40 French ships. Underwater archaeologists in the
team of Franck Goddio are (1999) investigating the remains that are hidden under the bottom sand.
From the 120 gun admiral ship l'Orient the entire copper
clad rudder has been found as well as plenty of intact glass and ceramics. Illustration by
Axel Nelson. Ref
Archaeology Sep/Oct 99.
- Combined Caesarea project, Israel, project each
summer excavating the Roman harbour, now partly submerged. Continuing at least until 2004. Ref
IJNA 21.2 1992.
- Port of Angra investigations, investigations by
Centro de Arqueologia Subaquática dos Açores
- Port Royal, Jamaica. Investigating the city that
partly sank into the sea in 1692.
- Wreck of a vessel from Phips' fleet, Quebec, Canada.
Excavating a wreck from 1690. It was discovered in 1994 in shallow water. Parts have been excavated
during the ice-free seasons from 1995 and on.
- La Salle Shipwreck Project, Texas
Historical Commission, USA. French ship that sank in shallow water in 1686, found in 1995, excavated
1996-97 by draining the wreck area with a cofferdam. Conservation still continues. Photo of bronze
gun © Texas Historical Commission.
- Floating Dock Bermuda
project, Brown University, Rhode Island, USA
- Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley,
sunk in 1864, raised in 2000, South Carolina, USA.
- NOAA Ocean Explorer projects, USA. Including
Salvaging USS Monitor, badly corroded, but at least parts are
being recovered. The NOAA Damage Assessment Center is also running the
Abandoned Vessel Project.
- Santa Fe la Vieja, submerged city investigated by
Fundación Albenga, Argentina.
- HMS Pandora. This British warship arrested the mutineers
from the Bounty, but sank 1791 on 33 m depth off Australia. The hull parts below the waterline are
preserved in the bottom sand. Excavations each year headed by Queensland Museum.
- Struma. This ship was full of Jewish refugees. In
1942 it was sunk in the Black Sea. There was only one survivor. Attempts are made to locate the
- North Caribbean Research, USA. Activities together
with Oxford University MARE.
- Expedición Animas, Rio de la Plata,
Argentina. Privately/commercially funded project led by Horacio Pardo. Searching for
and investigating wrecks from 18th century. Presently (2003) searching for the
Portuguese frigate Peña de Francia, sunken in 1720.
Old or terminated projects may be found among Nordic or
worldwide wrecks. And when is a project old or terminated? Hard to say,
conservation, analysis and documentation often continues several years after fieldwork ended. Except
for those listed above, you may find current projects and research at museums,
societies, academic departments and
authorities. You may also contact the various
replica projects or try finding
fieldwork opportunities. Images on this page © Sture
Hultquist, Muzeum Morskie, Texas Historical Commission, Queensland Museum, and others. Page by Per