June 28th, 2010
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Following our arrival at Ponza yesterday evening, we carried out all necessary preparations for today’s operations. One team set off on the ISIS to start the side scan sonar survey around the island of Zannone. We are running long (over 5 nautical miles) survey lines that take approximately one and a half hours to complete. The area of study is far from the main anchorages of Ponza and one would actually think that the place is quiet. However, back at our anchorage at Il Frontone, we were quickly reminded that Ponza is hosting hundreds of boats (of all sizes) that have travelled here for the long weekend, tomorrow being the feast of St Peter and St Paul.
Back on the Fortaleza, Eric and Craig were busy all day working on the ROV so as to install and try out out the new manipulator arm. This is no mean feat and this job is set to occupy them for the next few days.
Shortly after 3PM our project team departed the now bustling harbor of Ventotene and headed north west toward Ponza, the largest Island of the Italian Pontine Islands archipelago. The Island, located 33 Km south of Cape Circeo in the Tyrrhenian Sea, was inhabited from neolithic through Roman times. Except for a stretch during the Middle Ages when it was abandoned due to constant raids by Saracens and pirates it has been inhabited into modern times as well.
In Roman times, like our recently departed Ventotene, Ponza was used as an exile venue for high station Roman elite such as Nero Caesar, Agrippina the Younger and Julia Livilla while awaiting their fate for real or imagined transgressions against the more powerful.
But it isn’t Ponza that brings us to this part of the Tyrrhenian Sea; it is the uninhabited Island of Zannone lying about 10 Km to the northeast of Ponza. This small Island was chosen as our next survey location as it stands in the pathway of vessels heading to and from the port of Rome and the newly colonized lands to the south and west. An additional important criteria was that it apparently has not be subjected to concentrated bottom trawl fishing which generally destroys ancient ship wrecks.
We plan to use Ponza to support our efforts to provide the first ever cultural heritage sea-floor survey around the Island of Zannone. This will start Monday morning and we hope to spend a week surveying the sea floor out to approximately 150 meters in depth. Stay tune for our finds.