A remote operated vehicles (ROV) is allowing two Texas A&M (TAMU) students, two former TAMU students, and a TAMU scholars to examine parts of the Mediterranean Sea that until 6 days ago had never been explored.
Scuba divers, even while diving with mixed gases, are unable to reach depths achieved by ROVs. Although archaeologists have made astounding discoveries by exploring underwater wrecks in shallow waters, only about 2% of the sea bottom has been investigated at depths less than 50 meters (150 feet) and a much smaller percent of deep water has ever been studied. Hence, this exploration utilizes deep submergence technology in order to examine vessels that have been lost to human knowledge. Targets identified by previously gathered multi-beam echo sounder data has enabled the Ioppa Maritima project to explore 16 targets in a mere six days of deep sea surveying. The merits of deep water surveys have been unveiled over the last decade due new technologies identifying a number of precisely located submerged sites. This hands on project is allowing four TAMU students to develop into the next cadre of archaeologists trained to utilize these new technological methods.
These students each specialize in a variety of cultures pertinent to shipwrecks and downed airplanes. Further, by incorporating data from high definition cameras, utilizing acoustic sensors, and learning the various tasks required to explore with ROVs the underwater world will undoubtedly divulge insightful findings. By collaborating with other scholars and with continued advancement of the deep sea survey tools, work on the ocean bottom will continue to allow underwater archaeologists to make future discoveries and draw enlightening conclusions about ancient cultures.