Wednesday, November 24, 2004


Anser Project


Over the past two and a half years the University of Malta, through the Foundation of International Studies, participated in the EU project (ANSER) Anciennes Routes Maritimes Mediterraneennes financed under the Interreg IIIB Medocc programme.

Participating countries included Italy, France, Spain, Algeria, Morocco and Portugal. From within these countries a number of institutions, including MARQ (Museo Arqueologico Provincial de Alicante), CASC (Centre d'Arqueologia Subaquatica de Catalunya), CNANS (Centro Nacional de Arqueologia Nautica e Subaquatica Portugal) and the CNRS (Centre Camille Jullian Aix en Provence ), all contributed to the success of this project.

Dr Nicholas Vella and Mr Timmy Gambin served on the scientific and pilot committees alongside other members from the various participating institutions.

The focus of this project was varied and included the research of harbours, trade routes and commercial exchange in the western Mediterranean, and the communication of this research to the general public.

A series of conferences, training courses, publication, and education campaigns were organised in order to achieve these aims.

The five seminars included: The evolution of the palaeo-environment of ports and harbours in the western Mediterranean (Alicante, November 2003); Ancient port structures (Rome and Ostia, April 2004); The ancient western Mediterranean: trade and exchange (Marseille, May 2004); Mediterranean trade routes and harbours after the fall of the Roman empire in the west (Genoa, June 2004) and Communicating memories of the Mediterranean: tools, experiences and projects aimed at giving value to maritime cultural heritage (Pisa, October 2004).

Malta participated in all seminars with Dr Vella and Mr Gambin delivering five papers on a variety of themes. Both Maltese participants chaired sessions at these events.

The Regione Lazio is currently working on the publication of the proceedings of the seminars and all five volumes should be ready by early 2005. The books will contain contributions by leading experts in archaeology, ancient history, landscape studies and museology.

Another tangible facet of the ANSER project was the organisation of a number of courses aimed at sharing information on the preservation and appreciation of maritime cultural heritage.

Malta sent three participants, two archaeologists and a conservator, to two courses held in Italy during the month of June, one in Castiglioncello and the other in Ostia antica. Both courses were very intense and all three participants returned enriched by the experiences gained (as well as a host of new friends and contacts).

The third ANSER course was held at Villajoyosa in Spain and consisted of a ten-day training programme in underwater archaeology. In Spain, the three Maltese participants worked alongside divers and archaeologists from Spain, Algeria, Morocco and Italy. They also had the opportunity to dive on a Roman wreck that is in the process of being excavated.

One of the main objectives of ANSER is the setting up of a scientific database that can be used by researchers and students alike. This database contains information on objects and materials exchanged in the ancient Mediterranean. Works on its contents are currently in progress but part of it is already up and running.

The project website also contains details on the above-mentioned events as well as others that were organised in the scope of the ANSER project: Participation in the ANSER project has been a very positive experience for all involved.

The Department of Classics and Archaeology at the University of Malta, Heritage Malta and the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage all contributed in varying degrees to ensure that Malta's participation in such a high-profile project was a success.

It is hoped that long-term benefits reaped by the individual participants will prove beneficial to the study and preservation of Malta's maritime heritage.

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