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The Bajo de la Campana Shipwreck: Phoenician Trade, Colonization and Cultural Interactions in Iron Age Spain
The subject of this research is the Phoenician shipwreck at Bajo de la Campana, Spain, which I excavated under the auspices of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology (INA). The shipwreck is dated by its ceramic material to the end of the 7th century B.C. It represents the first-ever wreckage of a Phoenician seagoing vessel to be systematically excavated and studied.
This project is designed to increase our knowledge of Phoenician colonisation of Spain in three thematic areas: the organisation and sponsorship of Phoenician colonisation and commerce; trade networks and connectivity in the western Mediterranean; and the ramifications of colonisation in Spain for both Phoenician settlers and their indigenous neighbours. These broad questions will be addressed through study of the cargo material recovered from the Bajo de la Campana shipwreck. Evaluation and archaeometric analyses of the finds will attempt to identify and provenance the various materials; determine the ship’s port of origin, route and intended destination; and determine the nature and purpose of the original commercial venture upon which it was embarked. The wide array of raw materials and manufactured goods and luxuries that the vessel was carrying should make such research highly profitable for elucidating aspects of Phoenician commercial organization and logistics, trade routes, and relations with the indigenous peoples of the Iberian Peninsula.
This research represents the first systematic excavation and study of a Phoenician shipwreck. The vessel sank at the end of the 7th century B.C., at the height of Phoenician colonisation and commercial activity in Spain, and in a region—the Spanish Levant—that played an important intermediary role in the circulation of trade goods and “cultural currents” between the Iberian Peninsula, Ibiza, and the central Mediterranean. The special characteristics of shipwreck assemblages and the singular nature of this site with regards to Phoenician archaeology and the Iron Age make it an ideal medium for studying Phoenician history and archaeology in the western Mediterranean.