The 2002 Field Season






The 2002 field season in Portugal comprised two months of work developed by a joint CNANS / TAMU-INA team, which ran from July the 1st to August the 31st.


A team from Texas A&M worked from early July to mid August on the Arade 1 site, diving twice a day, five days a week.  Saturdays were used to fix the equipment and update the reporting.  Sundays were taken to rest. 


For those interested a number of weekend excursions was offered, which included visiting Dr. Shelley Wachsmann's work at the castle of Castro Marin, looking for the 80-gun vessel Océan, lost near Salema beach in 1759, during the French and Indian War, or visiting locals of interest on the southern coast of Portugal, such as Sagres and Boca do Rio.





Fig. 1 - Boca do Rio Roman ruins (photo: Filipe Castro).





The basic team charged with the excavation and recording of the Arade 1 Shipwreck was composed of six elements:


          Filipe Castro, Ph.D. (Instructor, Texas A&M University),


          Dante Bartoli (M.A. student at Texas A&M University),


          Starr Cox (M.A. student at Texas A&M University),


          P. Erik Flynn (M.A. student at Texas A&M University),


          Gustavo Garcia  (M.A. student at Texas A&M University),


          Michael Jones (M.A. student at Texas A&M University).



Fig. 2 - Dante Bartoli.

Fig. 3 - Gustavo Garcia.

Fig. 4 - Michael Jones.



Fig. 5 - Starr Cox and Erik Flynn.

Fig. 6 - The team in the local press.




All lodging costs were assumed by the Portuguese government, through its Centro Nacional de Arqueologia Náutica e Subaquática, and by the municipality of Portimão.  The team was lodged at Portimão's commercial harbor, in a camp built with modified shipping containers. The camp was located 200 m from the pier where the boats were docked, with all diving and excavation equipment kept in other containers rented for that purpose.





Fig. 7 - At the camp (photo: Filipe Castro).


Food was delivered to the site daily. Breakfast and lunch consisted of light meals, prepared by each student, and a catering company served a hot dinner.


General cleaning and maintenance was also provided by the municipality, who contracted a company to carry out the daily cleaning of the camp.


The kitchen was maintained by the students, who washed the dishes and cleaned the kitchen container and dining area after each meal.





Working Schedule


Underwater works were normally carried out five days a week, in which two dives were performed each day.  The INA / Texas A&M University team was given two boats for that purpose.


The main objective of this field school was to expose all students to a real life underwater archaeological excavation.  Students were expected to be exposed to several different excavation and recording techniques.


All the students refined their skills in a low visibility environment, with a slight current, and over a real shipwreck site, dealing with fragile and decaying organic materials, and learning how to work in a group, taking a share of the unpleasant part of the work; cleaning tools, filling diving tanks, and carrying the heavy equipment.


The underwater working schedule encompassed the following operations:

  • Removal of the sandbags and plastic cover that protected the shipwreck;
  • Cleaning, tagging and positioning of the datum points fixed in the 2001 season;
  • Fixing of the 10 x 10 m working area marked around the shipwreck in 2001;
  • Excavation of the sediment deposited over the shipwreck;
  • Cleaning of the hull timbers;
  • Excavation of four trenches in areas previously chosen around the shipwreck
  • Identification, tagging, and positioning of all concretions and artifacts found in the area;
  • Verification of the accuracy and completion of the existing partial drawing of the hull;
  • Compilation of a map with the depths of the area;
  • Drawing of all concretions and loose timbers at a 1/1 scale;
  • Raising of all artifacts;
  • Raising of all loose timbers;
  • Construction of transversal profiles across the hull remains.

As for the recording work in dry environment, the tasks assigned were:

  • Drawing the 10 x 10 m working area at a 1/10 scale;
  • Drawing the hull remains at a 1/5 scale;
  • Drawing transversal profiles of the hull remains;
  • Drawing ship's timbers at a 1/1 scale;
  • Transposing the 1/1 scale drawings to 1/5 and 1/10 scales.



Most students used their own diving equipment, except for tanks and diving weight belts.  The technical means provided by the Portuguese government consisted of:


   Two boats;


   Two dredges;


   Compressors and maintenance of equipments;


   One complete set of excavation, positioning, and tagging tools;


   All materials necessary for the drafting, recording, and raising of artifacts and ship components;


   All conservation facilities.


A local private sponsor contacted by the author, Marina de Portimão, offered:


   Seven tanks;


   Seven weight belts;



Fig. 8 - The boat's harbor (photo: Filipe Castro).


Duration of the Work

The minimum time spent by any student on the excavation was four weeks, and the maximum five.  Work started on July 1st and ended on August 31st. 


Fig. 9 - Working on the site (photo: Filipe Castro).


During the last two weeks of August, after Texas A&M team left the site, a CNANS team re-covered the Arade 1 shipwreck, dismantled the camp, and transported all artifacts to the conservation laboratory of the local museum.


Work Assigned


The TAMU / INA team was assigned the excavation and recording of the A1 shipwreck area, where a hull structure had been discovered by the CNANS group during the summer of 2001 survey, and subsequently excavated by a CNANS team in that same 2001 field season.


This entailed an assessment of the work previously developed by CNANS team.  This analysis consisted of the following major tasks:


  • An analysis of the existing 1/1 scale drawings and the resulting 2001 site plan, drawn at a 1/10 scale;


  • An assessment of CNANS procedures of classification and storage of drawings;


  • A consultation of the documents generated in the previous field season; and 


  • A consultation of the bibliography already gathered by CNANS team pertaining to the site and the previous visits by sport divers in the 1970s.





Fig. 10 - Analyzing 1/1 scale drawings from the 2001 field season (photo: Filipe Castro).



The recording of the Arade 1 hull had been performed at a 1/1 scale over a horizontal plane.  In this way a very accurate projection of the hull shape was obtained, and subsequently reduced into a 1/10 scale (Fig. 11).





Fig. 11 - 2001 hull plan.




However, the ship's hull had been only partially recorded in this way during the previous year due to lack of time.  The remaining portion of the hull - a longitudinal slice about 1 m wide running over the keel - had been recorded on a plastic sheet simply stretched over the shipwreck (Fig. 12).





Fig. 12 - The system of recording used in 2001 (photo: CNANS).



The consultation of all the documentation gathered in the previous year was essential for the understanding of the site geomorphology and history.  In 2000 and 2001 CNANS and GEO had gathered a collection of rare papers and reports pertaining to the story of the Arade River estuary and the dredging works performed during the 20th century.


All doubts and questions that stemmed from the study of these documents were quickly answered by the 2001 team.  Particularly useful was the information supplied by the members of the local teams, Alberto Machado from GEO and José Sousa from the IPSIS Project (Fig. 13).





Fig. 13 - Carlos Machado (left) and José Sousa (right) (photo: Filipe Castro).




Once in the water, it became clear that the 1/10 scale drawing was very accurate in spite of having been done from two different sources: the 1/1 rigorous projections on the horizontal Plexiglas, and the long plastic sheet stretched over the inside of the hull.


However, this drawing was a projection of the hull plan on a horizontal surface, and for the reconstruction of the hull we needed a full size drawing, a projection of the plan at a plane parallel to the keel. 


Given the small dimensions of this ship it was decided to work at a 1/5 scale. The 1/10 scale hull plan from 2001 was enlarged with a scanner, and divided into small squares, which were checked (scantlings and number and position of fastenings) against the shipwreck.


The recording process entailed the following phases:


  • Removal of the protecting layer of sandbags and sediment, excavating and cleaning the hull.


  • Positioning of the datum points previously implanted (in 2001) around a 10 x 10 m area with the WEB program;


  • Verification of the 1/5 drawing dimensions and number and position of the fastenings;


  • Recording perpendicular sections every third frame and longitudinal sections along the keel axis;


  • Disassembly of the ceiling planking;


  • Recording the timbers underneath the ceiling at a 1/1 scale, which was reduced to a 1/10 scale over a 10 x 10 cm grid, transposed to metric system engineering paper.


  • Recording perpendicular sections on top of every frame;


  • Positioning the tips of six frames relatively to the 10 x 10 m square with the WEB program.


As mentioned above, the closure of this season was carried out by a team from CNANS, who re-covered the shipwreck after the Texas A&M team left.





Citation Information:
Filipe Castro, ShipLab Report 5 - Arade 1 / 2002 Field Season, Vol. 2, 2002, World Wide Web, URL,, Nautical Archaeology Program, Texas A&M University.