The Bou Ferrer Shipwreck, Spain

Ortofoto of the dig trench, 2016. ©University of Alicante


The Bou Ferrer Wreck is a Roman shipwreck of the 1st c. CE found at a depth of approximately 25 meters and is located nearly 1,000 meters from the coast, in front of the beaches of Villajoyosa (Alicante). The ship was likely en route from southern Spain to Italy when it was struck by a squall, whereupon it tried to find refuge on shore, but sank before it could reach shelter. Underwater excavations have revealed a large ancient commercial vessel approximately 30 meters in length and 9 meters in breadth transporting a cargo of more than 230 tons, making the Bou Ferrer Wreck the largest ancient shipwreck of its kind currently in the process of excavation.


The Bou Ferrer Project has developed a multi-pronged effort to provide access to the site. This effort has taken various forms, such as:

o    Public visits to the site: Since 2013, the Bou Ferrer Project has conducted an annual outreach program, inviting recreational divers to visit the site under the careful supervision of trained archaeologists. This is truly a unique opportunity, as the Bou Ferrer Wreck is the only ancient archaeological shipwreck in all of Spain that is open to the public.

o    Public access to the archaeological materials: As well as inviting the public to the site, the Bou Ferrer Project has sought to bring the site to the public in coordination with the Museum of Villajoyosa through a coordinated effort of museum displays, public presentations, and lectures, all designed to increase public awareness and education.

o    Social media: We provide updates, informal reports, and educational messages across various social media platforms (ex., Vine, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, etc.).


View of the north section of the excavation. ©J.A. Moya

Sustainable Management

The Bou Ferrer project has the following sustainable management practices:

o  Academic affiliations: the principal affiliation of the project is with the University of Alicante. Various collaborations with other prominent domestic and international research institutions have taken place, including the Museo Nacional de Arqueología Subacuática (ARQUA), Museo Arqueológico Nacional (MAN), the Département des Recherches Archéologiques Subaquatiques et Sous-Marines (DRASSM) with the French Ministry of Culture, the Centre Camille Jullian (CCJ-CNRS), the Université Toulouse Le Mirail, and others.

o    Museum efforts: the Villajoyosa Archaeological Museum (Vila Museu) has worked closely with the wreck to ensure the proper conservation, storage, and curation of the archaeological finds, both for the benefit of the public and preservation for future generations.

 o    Cultural Resource Management: the Bou Ferrer has a close relationship with the relevant administrative and cultural authorities and with the Valencian Regional Government to ensure full compliance and legal protection of the site.

Guided tours for people with disabilities

Physical Protection:

Extensive measures have been undertaken to ensure the legal and practical protection of the site.

o    Commitment from the Guardia Civil to maintain security measures, surveillance, and to conduct visual inspections of the site at least once per month

o    Coordinating dives between the Guardia Civil and the scientific team for greater efficiency


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