Topic ID #41447 - posted 8/23/2019 7:15 AM

2019 Underwater Archaeology field school in San Vito lo Capo (Sicily - Italy)


Since the onset of navigation San Vito lo Capo’s bay (Sicily) and the surrounding area played a fundamental role first as harbouring site and later as trade and production centre.
Both terrestrial and maritime finds have confirmed a local human presence since prehistoric times and have show how this peninsular area of the Sicilian coastline became a vital link in the routes of Mediterranean sea trade.

Between 1988 and 2008 a number of research campaigns that combined both local and international expertise were conducted in the area and revealed several underwater archaeological sites.
Following the initial scientific work, the first field school project was also started in 1992, allowing for students, professionals, and amateurs of all levels to learn through participation in the discovery, excavation, and recording of archaeological material.
Research started then once again in 2013, with the creation of the on-going San Vito lo Capo Underwater Project. Utilizing the latest technological methods, this project is in the process of completing a systematic survey of the seabed around areas that were subjected to past campaigns as well as of some new sites, utilizing the latest technological techniques.
Under the supervision of professional archaeologists the field school has also been reopened, to students and graduates in archaeology, architecture, marine biology, geology, and also to professionals or amateurs wanting to increase their working experience and knowledge of underwater archaeological sites.

Next summer there will be two Underwater Archaeology Field Schools, divided into two or three week-long sessions, one between the 10th and the 23rd of June and one between the 2nd and the 22nd of September.

The course will include daily lectures aimed at offering an overview of the complex field of maritime archaeology and of the methodological background used in both excavation and research.
Examples of the topics covered in the lectures will include:
- underwater archaeological contexts
- typology of underwater finds
- formation of shipwrecks
- underwater orienting and search methods
- foundations in the working principles of GPS systems
- underwater survey methods
- underwater excavation methods
- underwater materials and their identification.
The training dives are intended to provide the participants with the necessary prerequisites for underwater research activities. During these sessions the students will participate in exercises aimed at improving their general aquatic readiness and they will learn a number of techniques essential to underwater archaeological work and survey. These will include how to maintain correct buoyance when operating on underwater archaeological sites and how to orient and calculate distances during underwater work.

Underwater fieldwork will be carried out as part of the current project of systematic archaeological survey of S.Vito Bay. During the dives the students will participate in the surveying and mapping of archaeological material, setting out an underwater archaeological site and documenting the finds both graphically and photographically. Each session will follow a briefing detailing the dive’s goals and time, as well as the tasks of each underwater operator. A boat specifically equipped for support will also be present at all times.
All artefacts detected during the survey activities will be photographed and georeferenced by DGPS, and they will be later recorded in a database. By using photogrammetric methods it will be possible to proceed to the documentation of the finds while leaving them in situ, as well as to the transposition of the most important ones into 3D representations.
At the end of each dive the related data will be recorded in dedicated tables, and all activity will be logged in a journal. The dive’s tracked itinerary and each find’s location will be recorded on CAD, while the most important finds will also be drawn and eventually rendered in 3D numerical models. All the information will eventually be gathered in a report database integrated with the finds’ profiles. The compilation of the latter will be accompanied by additional lectures addressed to the identification of the most representative classes of archaeological materials, as found in the area’s maritime contexts.
At the end of the season’s work the database will be used to create a GIS platform for the spatial elaboration of the data. Finally, the students will also participate in the writing and editing of a preliminary report for the season’s archaeological work.

September 2nd-22nd, 2019

Field School Application Form

For more information on course details, enrollment, tuition and fees, housing, and transportation please visit, or email


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