Malta

XLENDI SHIPWRECK SURVEY (2001)

In July 2001 ProMare conducted an ROV survey in Malta in cooperation with INA (Institute of Nautical Archaeology), and the Malta National Museum of Archaeology. INA began a systematic survey of the Maltese archipelago in the fall of 1999, under the direction of Ayse Atauz. However, after two years of investigations in Malta, with no shipwrecks discovered in shallow water it became obvious that possible shipwrecks would be situated in relatively deep water off the coast and out of reach of conventional divers. The work in 2001 constituted the first deep water survey in Malta.

A scatter of hundreds of amphoras was located and surveyed at a depth of 100-120 meters outside the ancient harbor of Xlendi on the island of Gozo, approximately 1 mile off the coast and covering an area of 100 by 400 meters. The majority of the amphoras date from the 3rd century BC and provide the first archaeological evidence about ongoing trade during the Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage.

Punic settlements on Gozo indicate that Xlendi was the only sheltered anchorage on Gozo and along the western Maltese archipelago in antiquity. The multiplicity of amphoras and other ceramic artifacts at the site indicate that ships headed for the Xlendi bay were caught in the storm or otherwise wrecked; it should be noted that the estimated size of the contemporary Gozitan population makes the island an unlikely final destination.