The Balearic Institute of Studies in Maritime Archaeology (IBEAM) and Offshore Special Services (OSS), have signed a collaboration agreement whose objective is to provide the “Archaeological Research Project Isla del Fraile”, led by Juan de Dios Hernández, Director of the Archaeological Museum of Aguilas and Alejandro Quevedo, researcher of the University of Murcia, of the technical and human means necessary to carry out an intensive underwater archaeological prospection in the bay of Hornillo and the island of Fraile, Aguilas.
The agreement was presented last Sunday, June 27, in the Royal Port of Eagles Port, with the presence of Javier Rodríguez Pandozi, project director of IBEAM; Sergio Lombán, CEO of OSS; Juan de Dios Hernández, archaeologist of the City of Aguilas; Alejandro Quevedo, professor at the University of Murcia and the Councillor for Heritage, Maido Simó.
The doctor of the University of Murcia, Alejandro Quevedo, said that “this is an unprecedented agreement in which for the first time a private company such as OSS collaborates. For us it is very important to have their instrumental and methodological support, in addition to the know-how of IBEAM”.
For his art, Javier Rodríguez Pandozi, project director of IBEAM, pointed out that “our agreement with OSS means that we can count on technological means that we do not have at our disposal. In this case, with the underwater excavation of the island of Fraile we will provide extra information and complete the image we have of the archaeological remains that we have excavated since 2020”.
OSS CEO Sergio Lombán commented that the company has signed this agreement within corporate social responsibility, in this case with our support to the recovery of Spanish submerged heritage. We chose Águilas because it is a flagship project and we are a company from Murcia. He added that “this is a very interesting project where a terrestrial archaeological campaign is combined with another marina that aims to date and catalogue all that there is in the Island of the Friar. In short, discover and protect a protected heritage that belongs to everyone”.
Lomban explained that OSS will deploy a heavy vessel, a large unit to support divers and personnel who will do the underwater intervention, diving teams to support archaeologists, who are IBEAM scientists, and all technical equipment such as tracking torpedoes, 3D recording cameras and, above all, underwater GPS and elements such as side-scan sonar and magnetometers, which already in the Navy campaign demonstrated a very high capacity to date and catalogue space.
The island of El Fraile
The island of El Fraile is the only Property of Cultural Interest in the Region of Murcia protected on land and underwater. Due to the insular nature of the site, the analysis of its underwater environment has been one of the main lines of research since the beginning of the project. This will take place for the first time during the second excavation campaign, which will take place next September. The objective is to document the archaeological evidence submerged in the bay of Hornillo through the use of new technologies, since the last prospections carried out in the area go back to the 80s. The agreement between IBEAM and OSS is part of the agreement signed this year between the Municipality of Aguilas and the University of Murcia for the promotion of archaeological research in the municipality and, very prominently, on the island of Fraile, an important centre for the production of salts from the Roman period.
According to the city council of Heritage of Eagles, Maido Simó, “we are before a BIC also underwater, the only one that there is in our Region, and it must be treated and studied with all the rigor and professionalism that it deserves. Without a doubt, it will be because it will have great professionals. It is fortunate to have the company OSS and IBEAM because it is an unprecedented agreement, it is the first time they collaborate to work on a site at the level of underwater archaeology in the Region of Murcia, together with the University of Murcia”.