RPM Nautical Foundation is a non-profit (US 501 c 3) research and educational organization that performs maritime archaeological research in the Mediterranean. Our supported institutions are the Program for Maritime Studies at East Carolina University, and the Institute of Nautical Archaeology. One of the primary goals of RPMNF is to assist Mediterranean countries with the mapping, identification, assessment, and research of their submerged cultural material. These projects, carried out in conjunction with host governments, are a crucial component in the effort to protect submerged archaeological sites and maritime heritage in the Mediterranean.
Over the past several years RPMNF has moved into the forefront of archaeological survey and littoral investigation in the Mediterranean through intensive and systematic use of advanced technologies. Multibeam echosounder systems employed on the RPMNF research vessel R/V Hercules allows advanced seafloor mapping capabilities for archaeological purposes. Through the three-dimensional modeling process of multibeam data, RPMNF has developed the capabilities for identification of submerged cultural material sites. Potential sites identified from the process of remote sensing data are verified and documented with ROV and diver investigation. A multibeam head fixed upon the ROV also provides an effective method for intensive ground-truthing of site areas. The ROV is also employed for limited excavation of deep-water sites; an excavation methodological process that RPMNF is helping to advance within the field of nautical archaeology.
RPMNF’s remote sensing and verification methodology has proved successful in the identification, mapping, and recording of shipwreck sites and harbor works from the ancient through modern eras in project conducted to date in Spain, Albania, Montenegro, Croatia, Malta, Morocco, Cyprus, Sicily, Amalfi and Calabria (Italy), Turkey and Tunisia. All archaeological work is performed in conjunction with the host country’s cultural authority and assists in both scholarly research and educational projects. As with all ventures, the standing policy with RPM is that all artifacts are under the jurisdiction of the host government at all times. The location and assessment data of wreck sites has proved beneficial to the many governments with which we have worked as it provides their cultural authorities pertinent information for protecting their archaeological resources. Bathymetric data is also made available to host country hydrographic departments in order to supplement their oceanographic mapping programs. RPMNF research vessel Hercules is flagged in Malta, where it based in Valetta during the off-season, and is deployed throughout the Mediterranean on a project basis.