Shipwreck »Illes Formigues 2« (Palamós, Spain)

In 2016 a Roman shipwreck was discovered at a depth of 46 m in front of the small archipelago of the Formigues Islands (Spanish province of Girona). Field research at the site began in 2017.

As part of the research project of the »Centre d’Arqueologia Subaquàtica de Catalunya« (CASC) the OeAI is in charge of evaluating the cargo from the shipwreck. The research is particularly focused on the around 1,000 amphorae that the ship was carrying. Without exception they all are from a region around Cádiz in southern Spain and served for the transportation of products from the fish-processing manufactures of the region.

An initial evaluation of the finds concluded that the ship and cargo sank in the early Augustan period, probably between 20 and 10 BCE. The preliminary assessment of the construction of the ship indicates that it was built in Italy. The combined scientific evaluation of the type of ship and cargo as well as under consideration of the location of the find site will provide the basis for the reconstruction of commercial ties and trade routes in the earliest Roman Imperial period. For example, the port of departure of this medium-sized ancient cargo ship will be sought out in southern Spain, probably in Gades-Cádiz where the Roman customs (portorium) also had a branch. The port of destination may be suspected in modern-day southern France where Narbo-Narbonne or Arelate-Arles are worth considering. From there, the transport amphorae could have been shipped over the known river routes along the Aude/Garonne or Rhône/Rhine further on to Aquitaine or to the northwest of the Imperium Romanum. The find assemblage of early Augustan military camps suggests that the cargo of the shipwreck »Illes Formigues 2« was intended to supply the Roman troops stationed along the Rhine.