In December 2017 and November 2018, two sessions of three-week excavations were carried out on a shipwreck lying in Caesarea, north of the Herodian harbor (License Nos. G-99/2017, G-81/2018; map ref. 190236–353/712677–705). The excavation, funded by the Honor Frost Foundation and the University of Haifa, was directed by E. Nantet, with the assistance of A. Yurman (Maritime Workshop of the Leon Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies, University of Haifa), B. Derenne (photogrammetry), G. Verly (CAD/photogrammetry), N. Ponzone (photography) and numerous divers, including volunteers, students and researchers from Israel and abroad. Access to the site was granted by the Caesarea National Park.
The shipwreck (Figs. 1, 2) was discovered in 1976. During the 1980s, it was partially explored by A. Raban and M. Fitzgerald (1994). These initial studies, while accurate and detailed, were incomplete, documenting only a few parts of the hull. It was determined that this hull belonged to a large ship that possibly sank in the Early Imperial period. The goal of the present excavation was to obtain a more complete understanding of this important shipwreck.
The first excavation season faced rough sea conditions, and consequently only one of the three weeks of the season was devoted to work on the wreck. The second excavation season benefitted from improved sea conditions, allowing the hull to be partially exposed. The excavation revealed that the wreck was badly damaged since its initial exploration in the 1980s, as it has been almost continuously exposed on the sea floor. A new and more accurate plan of the remains of the hull was drawn up (Figs. 3, 4), combining information obtained by both hand drawings and a photogrammetric model (Derenne et al. 2019). During the excavation, numerous wood samples were collected for identifying the species of tree from which the ship was built and for conducting dendrochronological analysis. A few pieces of wood were also recovered from the wreck in order to study its design and inspect them for the presence of tool marks.
Once the excavation was done, the hull was fully covered with three-hundred light-weight sand bags, added onto the one-hundred heavy-weight sand bags that were used to cover the wreck following its excavation in the 1980s.
Derenne B., Nantet E., Verly G. and Boone M. 2019. Complementarity between in situ Studies and Photogrammetry: Methodological Feedback from a Roman Shipwreck in Caesarea, Israel. The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences XLII-2/W10 (April 2019):77–83.
Fitzgerald M.A. 1994. The Ship. In J.P. Oleson ed. The Harbours of Caesarea Maritima; Results of the Caesarea Ancient Harbour Excavation Project 1980–85 II: The Finds and the Ship (BAR Int. S. 594). Oxford. Pp. 163–223.