The Arts and Humanities Research Council, through the Department of Archaeology, University of York, in partnership with the Gibraltar Museum, provided funding to enable survey and fieldwork of the submerged landscape off Gibraltar. The project questions what information has survived on the now submerged landscapes that were available for human settlement during periods of lower sea level. The objectives were to help define the preservation potential within the subsea deposits on the Gibraltar continental shelf and look at methods necessary for their recovery.
The project builds on preliminary investigations conducted in 2005 which focused attention on a system of water cut notches and small caves that have the potential to retain archaeological material. The caves are now submerged in 18-20m of water. A geophysical survey gathered bathymetric, side scan sonar and sub bottom data during February 2008. This gave the location and dimensions of the reef which has aided interpretation and location of the site. Multibeam survey was conducted around the west, south and east of the ‘Rock’ which has provided georeferenced baseline data across large areas of the underwater landscape.
In May 2008, a team of specialised mixed gas divers from the Gibraltar Museum, the University of York and the Hampshire and Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology spent three weeks battling the weather and the currents to record the seabed. At Vladi’s reef, two shallow trenches were excavated to underlying rocks. Sediment samples were collected from the base of both trenches. At one of the locations, a large boulder was shifted to reveal the sediment column behind.
Two pinnacles were surveyed and videoed on the east of the ‘Rock’ where rock samples were collected. These are sites that warrant further investigation as, like Vladi’s Reef, they would have been areas of activity when sea levels were lower.
Particular thanks should go to the Gibraltar Museum who hosted the project as well being integral to its smooth running and co-ordination.