Two very fruitful but short underwater survey campaigns. The Portitxol bay of Xàbia and l’Illa they give for much more. Of course, archaeologists have already discovered a treasure like no other. They expected to find 15 or 20 anchors, most of them Roman age. They have found more than a hundred. “At this point there is the most important concentration of anchors in the entire Mediterranean,” said Jaime Molina, professor of Ancient History at the University of Alicante (UA).
Portitxol is a treasure. Archaeological, natural and tourist. Now the City Council of Xàbia and the UA start a more ambitious project. It will run over four years (excavations could start as early as this spring) and, for the first time, l’Illa del Portitxol will be thoroughly investigated, declared BIC (Asset of Cultural Interest) in 2018. The project transcends research. He wants to publicize this unique underwater heritage. A submerged archaeological museum or park will be created.
Dieter Jay, a German official who has been enchanted by Portitxol since he made the first dive in 2011, proposed to trace a route of the anchors. But with more than a hundred anchors the thing must have more flight. This bay is on the way to hosting an underwater museum. On the Greek island of Alónissos, in the Aegean Sea, there is an underwater museum. Immerse yourself in history.
The vestiges of Portitxol lie at a depth of 15 and 16 meters. It is difficult to find an underwater site so close at hand. However, this heritage will also be virtually recreated to be disseminated in the Soler Blasco museum in Xàbia. It will not be necessary to dive to discover that Atlantis of archeology that Dieter Jay, now deceased, explored with fascination.
The anchors confirm that Portitxol was a natural anchorage at least since Phoenician times. The archaeologist and diver Álex Pérez explained last week that those that have already been documented in these sea beds embrace all historical periods. There are lithics from the Phoenician era (one found now weighs half a ton), Roman, Byzantine, Andalusian and modern. The one that closes the route through the anchors of history is one known as Rodger and is dated in the 19th century.
Álex Pérez revealed that this year they have discovered a “exceptional piece and of which there are only two parallels in the whole world”. It is a lead ballast from the Phoenician period. “Having this heritage inventoried and controlled is also important to avoid looting”, warned Jaime Molina.
Archaeologists have now documented three possible derelicts (sunken ships). They have found stockpiles of amphoras that could have been part of the cargo of three Roman ships that sank.
The four-year research project will allow the excavation of these wrecks and l’Illa del Portitxol. University experts will use a drone to virtually “clear” the island. Those images will already begin to give clues about the possible structures (archaeologists yearn to find a temple) that the vegetation hides.
The Councilor for Culture of Xàbia, Quico Moragues, advanced that the city council will contribute 18,000 euros each year. In the campaigns carried out so far, the Cirne Foundation has collaborated, as well as the divers from the GEAS (Underwater Activities Group) of the Civil Guard and the IROX volunteers.