Anaxum Project – Institute of Nautical Archaeology Institute of Nautical Archaeology Thu, 07 Dec 2017 19:17:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Continuation of the study of the cargo of Stella 1 shipwreck Mon, 14 Jul 2014 18:40:23 +0000 The Anaxum Project has two main goals for the 2014 field season: 1) continue the work of recovering the cargo and 2) recording the remaining structures of a Roman bridge. Although the cargo immediately on top of the Stella 1 shipwreck was excavated in the 1990s, the entire site contains a large debris field which extends to the north for 60 meters.


Last year, in 4 weeks, a 8 x 8 meter area of this debris field was excavated and raised. The recovered materials during 2013 weigh 1.993,2 kg, in which embrices and bricks represent  78% of the total.  Of all the artifacts recovered, 400 show a significant historical and scientific value (amphorae, terra sigillata, fine pottery, coins, etc.), which we are studying now.

It is the goal of the 2014 field season to record and recover several more meters of finds from the shipwreck site. All artifacts are sketched in situ and raised by a 2 x 2 meter square area. Once on the surface, the artifacts are rinsed, sorted, and weighed by this same 2 x 2 meter square area, allowing for interpretation of the tonnage of material that the wreck (or possibly wrecks) was carrying.  This is the same methodology that was used for the 2013 field season.

Diving commenced on site on June 23rd and by June 26th, the first artifacts of the season reached the surface. The team is currently working on recovering the artifacts from the area immediately near and atop the Stella 1 boat so that the wreck may be re-opened for additional analyses. Once this task is completed, the team will move on to the task of recording and recovering the artifacts from the Stella 1 shipwreck site as described above. During the final part of the excavation season, the team will return to the site of the Roman bridge and continue recording these interesting and varied structures.

The fourth campaign of the Anaxum Project, directed by prof. Massimo Capulli (University of Udine) will end on August 10 and include students from Italian universities (Udine, Firenze, Padova, Sassari, Trieste) and Texas A&M.

Stella 1 shipwreck: start the study of the cargo Wed, 11 Sep 2013 08:49:26 +0000 The Anaxum Project began as a partnership between the Department of History and Preservation of Cultural Heritage at the University of Udine and the Superintendence for the Archaeological Heritage of Friuli Venezia-Giulia, in a jointly with Texas A&M, the Center for Maritime Archaeology and Conservation, and the Institute of Nautical Archaeology.

The main goal of the project is to reconstruct the history of the area, focusing on the relationship between man and the landscape of the Stella River, the most important waterway in this area of the Friuli plain  (north east of Italy) that provided access to the Mediterranean.

The third campaign of the Anaxum Project, directed by prof. Massimo Capulli (University of Udine) finished on the first days of August.  This year students from Udine and Texas A&M university worked together with students from other universities, such as Universities of Kiel (GER), Padova (ITA) and Pisa (ITA).

DCIM100GOPROIn addition to the setting up of the archaeological exhibit “Sotto Sopra” dedicated to the Anaxum river, this year the Project focused on the Stella 1 Shipwreck artifact dispersion area, which is situated to the north of the hull remains.  The area surveyed is 8 m wide and extends 60 m upstream.  The artifact collection observed and recorded is composed mostly of building materials, such as embrices, tegulae and bricks, similar to those recovered during the 1990s campaign.

The recovery and inventory of the artifacts begun this summer, aiming at understanding if all the finds come from the Stella 1 cargo, and at getting more data pertaining to the size of the boat.  A study of the hull remains, aiming at their reconstruction, is underway at the Universities of Udine and Texas A&M, under the direction of prof. Filipe Castro.

AP_2013_GbThe 2013 campaign lasted 7 weeks.  Alongside with the always time consuming daily work, a considerable amount of time was dedicated to teaching, permitting the students to improve their underwater skills, to understand the excavation planning, and to learn how to use some of the underwater excavation instruments, such as the water dredge.

During this summer 64 square meters of the dispersion area were surveyed and excavated. The recovered materials weigh 1.993,2 kg, in which embrices and bricks represent 78%.  Of the totality of the artifacts recovered, 400 showed significant historical and scientific value (amphorae, terra sigillata, fine pottery, coins, etc.), and will be studied this winter.


A new shipwreck of XI AD from Stella river Thu, 24 Jan 2013 19:28:11 +0000 Remains of a Medieval wooden hull were exposed in September 2012 near the town of Precenicco (Friuli Venezia Giulia – Italy), during works of regularization of the river banks, carried out for the association “Consorzio di Bonifica Bassa Friulana.”  The preventive archaeological  investigation was executed  by the firm ArcheoLab.

The first step taken by the Archaeological Office (Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici del Friuli Venezia Giulia), was to define the age of the wreck, responsibility given to the archeologist official Marta Novello. The results of the C14 analysis made on selected wooden samples, dated the shipwreck to the 11th century. This is a very important discovery, especially for the discipline of naval archaeology, because it is an unicum, both for Italy and the international archaeological panorama. The study of the wreck has been entrusted to naval archeologist Massimo Capulli, professor at the University of Udine and coordinator of the Anaxum Project, which will include this study.

Thanking to the geomorphological and sedimentological analysis of the site made by Alessandro Fontana, geologist of the Geological Science Department of the University of Padua, it was possible to reconstruct the ancient river bank: with a configuration similar to present days, its flood area was 10 mt. wider; at this point it is not known whether the vessel was covered but the natural evolution of the river, resulted from anthropic causes. The perimeter of the wreck suggests that the preserved remains are 2 mt. wide and 10 mt. long. The information available suggests that the ship was abandoned.

This find reinforces  the historical hypothesis that the Stella river was a dynamic trade route, both in Roman and Medieval times, as suggested by the sinopia found in a little church in Chiarmacis dedicated to Saint Andrew, located on the Stella river: it represents a warship, recognizable by both wind- and human propulsion, testified by the presence of two masts and the oars. At the stern two rudders can be observed, as it was typical in the medieval period. This vessel could be linked to the presence of the knights of the Teutonic Order in the area: one of their most important communities was located in Precenicco, and it organized part of the maritime traffic to the Holy Land.

Stella 1 Shipwreck Tue, 06 Nov 2012 23:03:37 +0000

Site Plans from 1998 and 1999 interventions.

In 2011 we focused on the remains of a small Roman barge, dated to the 1st quarter of the 1st century AD, found in 1981 on the Stella River, at Palazzolo dello Stella, about 600 meters from the Piazza del Porto of the village of Precenicco, Udine.

This vessel was excavated in 1998, during a one-week long campaign carried out by IDRA s.n.c., under the scientific direction of Dott.ssa Serena Vitri from the Soprintendenza per I B.A.A.A.S. del Friuli-Venezia Giulia.  The work was directed by Arch. Giuseppe Franca and Dott.ssa Francesca Bressan.  The cargo was recorded and partially recovered.  In 1999 the archaeologists to recorded the hull remains during a two-week campaign, and covered the hull with geotextile and sediment.  Several publications followed the excavation reports, including a detailed analysis of the cargo.

In 2011, during a period of six weeks, we uncovered the site and recorded the hull in as much detail as possible.

The Rivers of Friuli Venezia Giulia Tue, 06 Nov 2012 21:58:28 +0000 Named Anaxum in Roman times, the Stella River has been inhabited since long.  Archaeological materials dated to 2300 BC have been found on its margins.  It is part of a network of rivers, man-made canals, and lagoons that connected the populations of the southern base of the Alps to the sea.  Its meandering course crosses a complex and varied landscape and connects the mountains to the adjacent coastal plain, the lagoon, and the North Adriatic Sea.   On its path, the River Stella is crossed by the old Via Annia, the Roman road built in the late 2nd century BC to connect Adria to Aquileia.

The story of this river is the story of the Mediterranean worlds described by Fernand Braudel, where people farmed the land and raised animals, shaped and fired the excellent clay of the region into roof tiles or pottery items that are found as far away as Rome or the Roman military camps of Germany, conducted their herds to different pastures according to the seasons, fished, traded, and fought wars with many invaders.

We are interested in the lives of these people and the way they used the Stella River: the works on the margins, the bridges, the docks, and the watercraft.  As Eric Rieth said, these vessels were very different from those designed for long voyages.  They were conceived to sail on a landscape, stop often, load and unload their cargoes, peoples, and ideas along the river and between the mountains and the sea, the villages and the country, the plain and the foot of the mountain.

The River Stella, or Anaxum, near Palazzolo dello Stella, Friuli Venezia Giulia (Photo: dante Bartoli, 2011)

ANAXUM PROJECT – Archaeology and History of a Fluvial Landscape Sun, 22 Jul 2012 17:35:08 +0000

The 2011 Team.

Anaxum is a Project of Dipartimento di Storia e Tutela dei Beni Culturali dell’Università di Udine in a jointly with the Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici del Friuli Venezia Giulia. The mission is the multidisciplinary study of the River Stella, in Northern Italy, throughout time.

In the summer of 2011, a team from ProMare, Texas A&M’s Nautical Archaeology Program, and the Institute of Nautical Archaeology was invited to participate in the excavation of a Roman barge:  the Stella 1 shipwreck.

The work was directed by Massimo Capulli from the University of Udine and Filipe Castro from Texas A&M University, under the scientific supervision of Luigi Fozzati of  the Italian Ministry of Heritage and Cultural Activities.

 The excavation was made possible thanks to the generous support of ProMare, the Center for Maritime Archaeology and Conservation (CMAC), and Dr. Peter and Nancy Amaral, Texas A&M Alumni and long time supporters of the Ship Reconstruction Laboratory / CMAC.