: Archaeologists working on the remains of the Iberian wreck Cala Cativa I.

Experts Investigate a Long Forgotten Iberian Ship that Sank off the Spanish Coast

(Read the article on one page)

Before the Romans set foot on the Iberian Peninsula, it was inhabited by pre-Roman people, with one of the most important groups of the time being the Iberians. Organized into tribes, the Iberians built their villages on higher ground and surrounded themselves within fortifications to protect against possible enemy invasions.

Farming was the basis of their economy, with the primary products being olives, wheat, grapes, and honey. They also used oxen as draft animals, horses for battle, and sheep and pigs for food and clothing. The Iberians were great craftsmen, as seen in the jewelry, weapons, ceramics, and textiles that have survived to the present. Finally, they were skilled sculptors: The Lady of Elche  is a clear example of this.

The Lady of Elche, one of the finer sculptures from the Iberian culture of the Iberian Peninsula.

The Lady of Elche, one of the finer sculptures from the Iberian culture of the Iberian Peninsula. (Alberto Salguero /  CC BY-SA 3.0  )

Now, a new underwater research project in the northern part of  Cape Creus , (Costa Brava) Catalonia, Spain seems to confirm that, in addition, the Iberians were a seafaring culture.

A Second Wreck Full of Ancient Amphorae

Under the coastal waters of El Port de la Selva, next to Catalonia's Costa Brava, lie the remains of a boat barely 10 meters (32.8 feet) long. The wreckage has been dated to approximately 40-30 BC and was carrying a hundred wine amphorae towards Narbonne.

According to the newspaper  El Pais , experts from the  Centre d’Arqueologia Subaquàtica de Catalunya (CASC) , have been able to date the boat thanks to, among other things, the artifacts discovered. Thus, they have determined that the  Cala Cativa I  is the second wreck studied in full, following the  Cap de Vol : another ship loaded with amphorae of wine that spent over 2,000 years under the waters of the Catalan coast and which had also been built, most likely, with Iberian techniques.

Last month, archaeologists submerged themselves to the sandy bottom, more than 30 meters (98.4 feet) below water, to examine the wreck of Cala Cativa I. There they sifted through the thousands of fragments of the hundreds of amphorae (that would have carried about 22 liters (5.8 gallons) of wine each). They also found seven meters (23 feet) of wooden hull, keel, and frames - with the same construction previously found in the Cap de Vol.

Photo from the archaeological research carried out some years before on the wreck Cap de Vol.

Photo from the archaeological research carried out some years before on the wreck Cap de Vol. ( National Geographic Spain / CESC )

The director of Centre d’Arqueologia Subaquàtica de Catalunya (CASC),  Gustau Vivar  and his team in a statement to El País news said that the fact that the Cala Cativa I is smaller than the Cap de Vol:

"also reinforces the idea that these ships are from here, for such a small boat could not be from elsewhere if it came to this coast for trade. This small size is the perfect link that we needed to defend our theory. The importance of Cala Cativa I and the Cap de Vol is that they show that there was a progression for the relationship of the Iberian culture with the sea: this is the beginning of the production of this wine that came from the area of the Baix Llobregat, of Badalona (Baetulo), and Mataro (Iluro) and went to Narbonne; It is the beginning of the wine trade. "

Experts believe that they will likely discover more wrecks with this Iberian construction system based on flat boats since the Catalan coast of the past was not like the present: it had marshes and lagoons, and boats of this type could pass from the Mediterranean to freshwater without having to change vessels.  

A Tough Campaign and Pioneering New Technology

It has not been an easy year: the great depth has forced scientists to perform decompression 20 minutes per half-hour immersion in the Mediterranean waters. However, thanks to the collaboration of the Department of Anthropology at the  University of Southern California , CASC archaeologists are using several iPads inside watertight boxes to work while on the seabed. The University of Southern California has provided this material to enable on site drawings of the wreck’s features.

The Department of Anthropology at the University of Southern California has contributed some iPads in watertight boxes with which scientists can draw underwater in real time.

The Department of Anthropology at the University of Southern California has contributed some iPads in watertight boxes with which scientists can draw underwater in real time. (Photo:  Espejo Navegantes / ABC )

Furthermore, the presence of the submarine  Ictineu 3  has further facilitated the dives, according to the newspaper ABC  and the nautical archeology blog "Espejo Navegantes" .

Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Myths & Legends

Open Book Photo
A legend is a tale regarded as historical even though it has not been proven, and the term “myth” can refer to common yet false ideas. Many myths and legends describe our history, but they are often treated skeptically. This is because many of them, while explaining a phenomenon, involve divine or supernatural beings.

Human Origins

Noah's Sacrifice - watercolor circa 1896–1902 by James Tissot
The imperfect state of archaeological researches in the Near East impedes any definite identification of the original race or races that created the earliest civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt. According to Gordon Childe, however, the predominant racial element in the earliest graves in the region from Elam to the Danube is the ‘Mediterranean’.

Ancient Technology

Invention of Wheel - Sumer
In today’s world, technology is developing at an unprecedented rate. The latest gadget today is tomorrow’s antique. As a result of this rapid development of technology, we often take things for...

Ancient Places

Google Earth image of manmade stone structures in Saudi Arabia
Deep in the heart of Saudi Arabia, 400 peculiar stone structures have been found, dating back thousands of years ago. These stone features were discovered by archaeologists with the use of satellite imagery, identifying what they call stone "gates" in an extremely unwelcome and harsh area of the Arabian Peninsula.


The ancient and mysterious Sphinx, Giza, Egypt.
In 1995, NBC televised a prime-time documentary hosted by actor Charlton Heston and directed by Bill Cote, called Mystery of the Sphinx. The program centered on the research and writings of John Anthony West, a (non-academic) Egyptologist, who, along with Dr. Robert Schoch, a professor of Geology at Boston University, made an astounding discovery on the Great Sphinx of Giza in Egypt.

Our Mission

At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

We’re the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.

By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Next article