2200 years ago, at the time of the First Punic War, something quite big must have happened along the NE coast of Pantelleria Island of which we have no record on historical sources.

Between 2001 and 2012 four archaeological sites were found on the seabed between Gadir and Tramontana coves, along a little more than a mile of the coast. The four sites are characterized by Punic amphorae of the same types.

In one of the four sites a treasure made up. of 4.000 Punic bronze coins was found in 2011 by Chicco Spaggiari, one of SDSS founders, during an exploration dive. All of the coins, except one, are of the same type, featuring a female head on one side and a horse protome on the other.

The fact that all of the coins are of the same type leads the archaeologists to speculate that they were intended to an “institutional” payment and not for commerce. In other words, it is thought that they were probably destined for the payment of Carthaginian soldiers or mercenaries.

Archaeologists presume that these could be the remains of a Carthaginian convoy carrying military supplies for the troops fighting in Sicily, that was intercepted and violently destroyed by an enemy force.

Numerous testimonies from residents report that the shallow waters of this area were literally covered with amphorae which, between the 60s and the 80s, were plundered by groups of divers from all over Europe organizing specific holidays and expeditions for the recovery of these artifacts. Those were the days where unfortunately the sensibilities in this field were different and the result is that an important source of precious information, testimonies that would have helped to reconstruct a piece of history, has been irretrievably lost. About 200 of these amphorae, recovered over the years by the police, are now deposited in the warehouses of the castle of Pantelleria.

Today, traces of this ancient episode remain at greater depths, where divers of past decades were unable to venture. The effort of the authorities is therefore to take a census of the materials present and to study and interpret what the finds testify.

After the initial SDSS discovery of a dispersion of amphorae at 80 meters of depth in 2001, investigations on this site were carried out under the direction of the Soprintendenza del Mare of the Regione Sicilia by SDSS and other groups, including the staff of the Cala Levante DC, the Arcus and the Ares archaeological consortiums and Global Underwater Explorers, which in 2014 carried out a survey operation with divers and submarines exploring the area to a depth of 250 meters.

In 2021, SDSS conducted a further survey and documentation campaign on the sites of Punta Tracino and of Cala Levante during which the two areas were documented with extensive photogrammetry and other means.

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