Maritime Archaeology Fieldwork in the Ancient Port of the Roman City of Sanisera. Discovering amphora & shipwrecks underwater (Menorca, Mediterranean Island, Spain)

Location: Es Mercadal, Spain

April 12, 2016 to November 14, 2016

Session dates: 
1) April 12 – April 29; 2) May 01 – May 18; 3) May 21 – June 07; 4) June 10 – June 27; 5) June 30 – July 17; 6) July 20 – August 06; 7) August 09 – August 26; 8) August 29 – September 15; 9) September 18 – October 05; 10) October 08 – October 25; 11) October 28 – November 14

Application Deadline: 
Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Deadline Type: 
Contact for details

Flyer: PDF icon 013.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 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 Roman cities, classical archaeology and underwater archaeology.

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 amphoras, and more than 10 anchors from different time periods.

The Sanisera Archaeology Institute offers an underwater archaeology course consisting of two main parts.

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

There will be a minimum of 8 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 amphoras 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.

Course time dedicated: 90%.

Part 2. Mediterranean Shipbuilding (Menorca, Spain)

This component of the course focuses on Mediterranean shipbuilding techniques, both on theoretical and practical levels. Students will put into practice their conservation skills with a ship from the 1920s.

Students will learn the basics of traditional Mediterranean shipbuilding, as well as which tools, instruments and methods are the most suitable to restore old vessels.

Course time dedicated: 10%.

Students will also attend lectures on Roman shipwrecks, Roman amphoras and Mediterranean shipbuilding techniques.

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.


  • Underwater Archaeological background of Sanisera.
  • Ancient trade in Sanisera and the Western Mediterranean Sea.
  • Ancient navigation.
  • 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

This course offered by the Sanisera Field School is designed to teach with precision this field of research. If you are interested in learning underwater survey techniques and methodology and apply them in a Roman port where you will find amphora, anchors and the remains of shipwrecks, then this is a good option for you. 

During this course, you will learn how to identify archaeological remains on the seabed. In the laboratory, you will learn, how to classify archaeological material found and how to determine dates and methods used to determine the location and elements of the cargos from shipwrecks.

After finishing this course, the training and experience gained will help you to decide if underwater archaeology is the area of research that you wish to focus on or if you want to continue on with underwater archaeology as a future profession. 

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 or computer systems is not required.

Student Testimonials  

Video 1:

Field School Life & Language

The course runs six hours per day.  The day will be divided between diving in the Roman Port of Sanitja, lab work, exercises, lectures, videos and excursions. 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: 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 | April 12 – April 20

$ 1125

Session #2

2016 | May 01 – May 09

$ 1125

Session #3

2016 | May 21 – May 29

$ 1125

Session #4

2016 | June 10 – June 18

$ 1125

Session #5

2016 | June 30 – July 08

$ 1125

Session #6

2016 | July 20 – July 28

$ 1125

Session #7

2016 | August 09 – August 17

$ 1125

Session #8

2016 | August 29 – September 06

$ 1125

Session #9

2016 | September 18 – September 26

$ 1125

Session #10

2016 | October 08  – October 16

$ 1125

Session #11

2016 | October 28  – November 05

$ 1125


Spaces Available

The course is limited to 8 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 conservation. 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.

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:

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

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