Discover Amphora & Shipwrecks in the Underwater Port of Sanitja & GIS Applied in Archaeology

Location: Es Mercadal, Menorca, Balearic Islands, Spain

May 21, 2016 to October 5, 2016

Session dates: 
1) May 21 – June 07; 2) June 10 – June 27; 3) June 30 – July 17; 4) July 20 – August 06; 5) August 09 – August 26; 6) August 29 – September 15; 7) September 18 – October 05

Application Deadline: 
Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Deadline Type: 
Contact for details

Flyer: PDF icon 0122016.pdf

Program Type

Field school



The Sanisera Archaeology Institute for International Field Schools offers over 20 international courses focusing on archaeology, anthropology, GIS, underwater archaeology, conservation, art, museums and archaeological film. Student's fieldwork centers on the survey and excavation of classical sites. - See more at:

Project Director:

Fernando Contreras, Dolores Soriano and Antonio Talavera

Project Description

Sanisera Archaeology Institute for International Field Schools

General Information

The Sanisera Archaeology Institute for International Field Schools offers annual programs in archaeology. This course is designed for students from around the world interested in studying abroad, gaining knowledge in underwater archaeology and mapping tools applied to an archaeological recording system with GIS (Geographic Information System).

This program is divided in two main parts. During the first part of the course, students will gain experience in underwater archaeology focused on exploring the Ancient Roman Port of Sanitja and the coast of the Cape of Cavalleria. The aim of this project is to identify structures of the Roman city of Sanisera and underwater shipwrecks, as well as anchors and amphora related to those shipwrecks and their cargo. During the second part of the course, students will learn how to create a GIS platform applied to underwater archaeology.

Part 1. Explore the Ancient Roman Port of Sanitja (Menorca, Spain)

Over the past eight years, The Underwater School in Archaeology has researched the ancient port of Sanitja via an intensive survey program. We have discovered 18 Roman shipwrecks with cargo, including amphora, and more than 10 anchors from different time periods.

There will be a minimum of 7 immersions focusing on underwater archaeological survey exploring the Ancient Port of Sanitja and the coast of the Cape of Cavalleria. The aim of this project is to identify structures of the Roman city of Sanisera and underwater shipwrecks, as well as the associated cargo including amphora and anchors.

The port of Sanitja was not only occupied by Romans.  There are also ruins of a Muslim mosque and an English defense tower which lead us to believe that we could find other vessels from these time periods. During the last years of survey, several anchors and three shipwrecks from the XVI-XIX centuries were discovered.

This course includes classes on methodology as well as techniques and tools used in underwater archaeological survey. Students will also attend lectures on Roman shipwrecks, Roman amphora and Mediterranean shipbuilding techniques.

Course time dedicated: 50%.

Part 2. Creating an Archaeological GIS Platform

Students will create an archaeological GIS platform from the applied recording system of the underwater remains of Sanisera in the port of Sanitja, gaining experience in ARCGIS software.

Course time: 50%.

What you will learn

In the Fieldwork

  • How to survey and which archaeological techniques are used.
  • Use and handling of the tools that are used during the survey process.
  • Recording data obtained during the survey.
  • Practice in the recognition of archaeological materials and Roman finds from the II century B. C. to VI A. D.

In the Laboratory

  • Recording data obtained during the survey -diary and systematic methodology sheets-.
  • Study and typological classification of archaeological Roman objects discovered during the underwater survey.
  • Relative dating based on the classification of the archaeological objects discovered during the survey.
  • Learning, handling and practices with ArcGIS software.
  • Design, preparation and management of archaeological information in a GIS platform using ArcGIS.


  • Underwater Archaeological background of Sanisera.
  • Ancient trade in Sanisera and the Western Mediterranean Sea.
  • Ancient navigation on the Western Mediterranean Sea.
  • Modern sail merchant ships (centuries 16th - 20th).
  • History, archaeology, economy and culture of the Roman civilization.
  • Introduction to the History of the Sanisera Site.
  • Minorcan archaeology before the Roman conquest of the Balearic Islands.

Directed at

If you are interested in underwater archaeology, learning about the classification of amphora and shipwrecks while participating in an underwater archaeological survey conducted in the port of Sanitja and then applying the collected data to GIS software, then this is the best course for you.

This is a general course that focuses on underwater archaeological survey and the software used to record information from the archaeological survey. After a week of surveying the port of Sanitja, participants will then use ARGIS software to enter in the data recovered during fieldwork hours.

The water is very clear in Menorca, with an astonishing visibility…often up to 18 to 20 meters. The water is calm and mild in temperature and currant, allowing for excellent diving conditions in a natural and pristine Mediterranean atmosphere. 

Previous knowledge or experience in archaeology is not required.

Student Testimonials

Video 1:

Video 2:

Field School life & language

The first half of the course focuses on underwater survey in the port of Sanitja. The course runs six hours per day.  The day will be divided between diving, lab work, exercises, lectures, videos and excursions.

During the second half, participants will create an underwater archaeological GIS platform from the applied recording system of the Ancient Port of Sanitja, using ARCGIS software.

Participants will also visit archaeological sites on the island through organized excursions. For every seven course days there are two days off. The course is taught in English and Spanish.


To participate in diving activities, it is necessary to have a diving certificate that will allow you to dive up to 18 meters in depth.  For this reason, we have designed two groups to choose from our underwater archaeology course: with or without a diving certificate.

Group 1. Without a diving certificate: Those that do not have their diving certificate should choose this group.

Group 2. With certificate: Those that have a diving certificate from an internationally recognized organization (i.e. PADI), should choose this group. 

Medical check

On the first day of the course, participants have to show a medical document stating that he/she is fit for diving activities. Participants that do not have this document on the first day will not be allowed to participate until they are able to present this document.


At   the   end   of   the Field program,   students   will   receive a certificate of participation stating the hours and activities of the course.Participants that perform exceedingly well in the course may receive a letter of recommendation from our organization upon request.

Sessions & Cost




Session #1

2016 | May 21 – June 07

$ 1350

Session #2

2016 | June 10 – June 27

$ 1350

Session #3

2016 | June 30 – July 17

$ 1350

Session #4

2016 | July 20 – August 06

$ 1350

Session #5

2016 | August 09 – August 26

$ 1350

Session #6

2016 | August 29 – September 15

$ 1350

Session #7

2016 | September 18 – October 05 

$ 1350

Spaces avalaible

The course is limited to 5 participants per session. Reservations are only effective when payment of the registration fee is received. If for any reason the  course  is  cancelled,  payment  is  returned  according  to  the  field school refund policy.

Period(s) of Occupation: Roman to modern

This course focuses on underwater survey, Mediterranean ship building techniques, and ARCGIS software. The aim is to identify underwater structures of the Roman city of Sanisera and shipwrecks, as well as anchors and amphorae related to those shipwrecks and its cargoes. Then, participants will create an archaeological GIS platform from the applied recoding system of the ancient port of sanisera.

Project size: 
1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 18 days

Minimum age: 
18 (contact with questions about age)

Experience required: 

Room and Board Arrangements

Course fee includes:

  • Course tuition.
  • Tanks, tank filling and weights.
  • Open water diving certificate (PADI) for those in group # 1.
  • Accident insurance at the site.
  • Mapping Sotware: ARCGIS
  • Accommodation in the Student Residency in Ciutadella. Two to six per room. 
  • Walking distance to the historic center, port and beaches.
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • Morning snack at the Sanisera site.
  • Daily transportation to/from the archaeological fieldwork.
  • Accident insurance at the site.
  • Excursions.
  • Certificate of participation.

Airfare not included from the student home to/from Menorca (Spain).

Equipment Needed

We encourage participants to bring their own dive gear, however, a complete set of diving equipment (with the exception of mask and snorkel which each participant must bring) can be rented at the reduced cost of 18 Euros per day.


Academic Credit

Name of institution offering credit: 
Please, contact Felipe Esteban, our course coordinator, in order to get more information about this possibility
Number of credits offered: none


Contact Information
Felipe Esteban
Es Mercadal
+1 347 8710963