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National Geographic History magazine published the first orthophoto of 'Bou Ferrer' shipwreck made up by UA Image Workshop


Orthophotograph made up with the addition of over a hundred photographs


Alicante, 30 March 2015

In its latest issue April 2015, the National Geographic History magazine published the story of the wreck of the 'Bou Ferrer' with the first orthophoto last season made by the University of Alicante Image Workshop along with UA Virtual Heritage group, led by researcher Jaime Molina Vidal, lecturer at the Department of Prehistory, Archaeology, Ancient History, Greek Studies and Latin Studies. The orthoimage is made up by over a hundred photographs displaying the arrangement of the amphorae in 'Bou Ferrer'. This is one of the four orthoimages made by the Virtual Heritage and the Image Workshop, from a hundred and eighty images. This is an experimental development of innovative three-dimensional digital photogrammetry techniques for the underwater photography that the Virtual Heritage group is developing in different archaeological contexts (Spain, Italy and Peru), with excellent results

'Bou-Ferrer' was a 30-metre 230-ton cargo ship from mid 1st C AD coming from an important harbour in Andalusia which might have been Gades. Possibly, its Italic shipowner had it at the service of the booming trade of Andalusian products supplying the city of Rome. It was carrying at that time a cargo of fine fish sauces, a highly regarded product in imperial Rome. When sailing through the open sea, on route from current Andalusia to the south of the Balearic islands, it must have been moved by an easterly storm and sought refuge on the coast of the present province of Alicante but failed and sank off Villajoyosa 25 metres deep. The shipwreck is noted for being a freighter from the Emperor of Rome, and for its excellent condition, both the cargo and the ship's hull. Discovered in 1999 by divers  José Bou and Antonio Ferrer, it is the largest Roman excavation shipwreck in the Mediterranean Sea.

The performance of this excavation campaign, the fourth, is included in the 1st Plan for Underwater Archaeology in Valencia region 2014-15, which was conducted through UA General Foundation with a budget of over €18,000. Within this context, the proposal to turn the 'Bou Ferrer' shipwreck into the first submarine archaeological site of cultural interest in Valencia region.

A line of documentary work, research, preservation and dissemination of underwater archeology of the region has been developed with this Plan to value these assets and make them known among the public at large. In the case of Bou Ferrer shipwreck, this line is possible thanks to the collaboration of various institutions, including UA, which coordinates the actions and performs the scientific and information dissemination procedure. With this initiative, the Bou Ferrer is at the forefront of in situ underwater heritage in Europe, with an outreach campaign of underwater tours that make it the first shipwreck in Spain to be visited by tourists.

The excavation campaigns began in 2006 and 2007, bt the Directorate General for Heritage and under the scientific direction of underwater archaeologist Carlos de Juan. The work done in previous years provided the first data, such as the type of the boat construction and its cargo capacity of over 200 t, as proved by its main cargo, consisting of about the 2,500 amphorae accounted containing garum, a prized fish sauce very much appreciated by Roman elites. During the campaigns in 2006 and 2007 230 complete amphorae were extracted. In a subsequent campaign, up to 5t-lead-ingot cargo was proved to be found. Two objectives, on the one hand, a scientific approach based on a deeper knowledge of an unparalleled reservoir known in the Mediterranean, and on the other, the design of a pilot project to make the site a tourist spot.


Images courtesy of UA Image Workshop.


Excavación de ánforas: Fotografía del trabajo de excavación submarina


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