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Italy, Sicily

Date: Jul. 1995, Jul./Aug. 1998

Area: Cape Ógnina, shoal: Secca di Ógnina

Type: Survey, recovery

Goal: Re-evaluation of the site Ógnina IV, recovery of a stone anchor stock from the 5th century BC

Project leader: Dr. Hanz Günter Martin

Project partners: Soprintendenza of Syracuse, Syracuse dive club CSS


  • Kapitän, G. 1972. Le anfore del relitto romano di Capo Ognina (Siracusa), in: Recherches sur les amphores romaines. Collection de l’Ecole Francaise de Roma 10. Rome. p. 43-252.
  • Kapitän, G.; Naglschmid, F. 1982. A 4th century BC dispersed Amphora Cargo on the Secca di Capo Ognina, Siracusa, Sicily (Site Ognina 4), in J. Blanchard, J. Mair, I. Morrison: Proceedings of the Diving Science Symposium. 6th International Science Symposium of CMAS, 14.-18. Sept. 1980 in Edinburgh. Natural Enviroment Research Council. p. 229-239.
  • Kapitän, G. 1995. Die Entstehung der Anker, in: DEGUWA-Rundbrief 10.
  • Martin, H. G. 1995. Ognina 4. Ein vorläufiger Grabungsbericht, in: DEGUWA-Rundbrief 10. Pretzfeld. p.13-23.
  • Runde, I. 1995. Bericht zur unterwasserarchäologischen Kampagne Ógnina IV vom 14.07. bis 29.07.1995 auf Sizilien, in: DEGUWA-info III. p. 1-4.

Short reports:



Short report: Sicily 1995

Author: Dr. Ingo Runde


Please note: An English translation is not available yet.

Short report: Sicily 1998

Author: Dr. Hanz Günter Martin


The 5th August was a special day in the Ógnina 98 Campaign: Outside of the harbour entrance of the small fishing village Ógnina, in the south of Syracuse, four ships lay in the shelter of an offshore islet. They witnessed how a delighted gathering of people celebrated calmly an archaeological festival: the salvage of a stone anchor-stock from the 5th century B.C. Representatives of the Syracuse port authority have arrived, so have committee members of two historical societies, a crew of the Italian television, friends as well as archaeologists and divers of the  Sopraintendenz, i.e. the collaborating diving club CSS in Syracuse, and the DEGUWA.


The salvage of the anchor-stock with two lifting bags from a depth of 12 m took nearly half an hour. The stock measures 1,17 m and consists of a hard granite rock, which needs to be analysed - under water we even thought it was granite per se. It is certainly not an unimportant find, as it marks an important link in the development of single-armed to double-armed anchors and hence suggests a gradual rather than a sudden transition at the end of the 6th century B.C.

The really spectacular and - in this case - pleasing aspect lies in a different circumstance: The anchor was reported to us by the sport-diver Salvatore Crisafulli. The DEGUWA has been excavating since 1995 in Ógnina and became well-known in this region. Given that fact, it is an encouraging sign that local divers, who know the underwater landscape certainly far better, come to us with their knowledge and help rather than to take their "booty" back home. Salvatore Crisafulli was so enthused by our activities that he even joined the CSS and offered his collaboration.

The salvage of the anchor-stock was certainly not the only thing, which we achieved in the four-weeks campaign on 20. 7. - 22.8.1998. The main objective was the complete exploration and survey of the shoal (secca) off the coast in order to get a general impression which would also allow an attribution of finds made in earlier campaigns. Right at the beginning of the prospection, however, we found an opulent site which had to be investigated closer. It was a shipwreck site of a Hellenistic freighter, which was laden with wine from Kos. This is proven by nearly over 200 fragments of pottery typical for Kos, i.e. the characteristic double-handled transport amphorae. With a total number of 663 finds this site was even the most fruitful one in Ógnina.

Thereafter the prospection was continued, which meant in this case: the systematic exploration for further sites and mapping of the Secca. This goal was also achieved. What sounds merely prosaic here, demands in verity enduring, patient and - for the divers - boring work, for it encompassed to dive with 3 to 7 others tenaciously according to the compass bearing in very straight lines in order to scan the sea-bed, which is mostly composed of seaweed and rock.

After all this work was rewarded at the last day with a further highlight: a stone-anchor of ca. 250 kg weight. It is a roughly square, pillow-shaped rock. A hole was drilled into one corner, through which the cable could be fastened. Such anchors held the ship merely by their weight and they belong typologically into the Neolithic period. It is unclear how long they were in use.

The speciality of our anchor was its size and its tremendous weight. All other known examples of this type are lighter, smaller and hence also manageable by one man at sea. Who could deploy an anchor of 250 kg? How did these ships looked like?

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