Submerged history

From 28 April 2022 to 30 July 2023

Dive into history!

At the bottom of the oceans, seas, rivers and lakes of our country, of our planet, lies a fascinating memory, a submerged history that deserves to be known, preserved and passed on to future generations. The Shipwrecked – Submerged History exhibition wants to show the richness and diversity of Catalan underwater archaeological heritage and, at the same time, fulfil the important task of studying, safeguarding and protecting this heritage that, since 1992, has been carried out by the Centre for Underwater Archaeology of Catalonia (CASC), now celebrating the thirtieth anniversary since its creation.

Explorers of the sea

From simple freediving to today’s sophisticated diving equipment, the evolution and refinement of instruments and materials has been a constant since the 19th century. It is quite a challenge to enter safely into an environment that our body is not adapted to. We present some of the inventions and characters that, over time, have made the expansion of underwater archaeology possible.


The seafloor preserves objects that tell us the story of human beings from the last 12,000 years from the remains preserved in the ships that went sailing and shipwrecked. The underwater archaeological research contributes decisively to our knowledge and understanding of maritime culture. The heritage studied allows us to learn about the technology and systems related to navigation and also the everyday life, beliefs and myths linked to maritime culture.

Sailing and rowing

Being able to control the propulsion of the ships to reach the desired destination has been fundamental for navigators over the years, the key to maritime transport.

Tableware and food

Tableware, especially from ancient times, gives us very valuable information to be able to accurately date the sinking of a ship, as well as tell us about where it came from, the number of crew and its social status.

Navigation instruments

Due to the inclination of the Earth’s axis of rotation, in ancient times the North star was observed very far from its current location. The North Pole was a black space and the nearest identifiable star was the so-called “Phoenician star”, which corresponded to the rear of the Ursa Minor, or to the Vega star.

Hygiene and Health

A ship has limited space and can spend long periods of time without touching land. In times past, fresh food and water aboard ships were a scarce commodity.


Many factors influence the way ships are built: their function, the waters they have to sail, the local culture and tradition or the materials available.

Entertainment and superstition

The sailor’s life is in permanent danger. Religion, superstitions and legends help him live with the everyday risks.

Expo 1 – En

The scenery of the exhibition, which occupies 1000 m2, evokes a seafloor. Various audio-visual elements, some of them large format, give rhythm and reinforce the immersive feeling of the set.

Expo 2 – En

Come and listen to the stories the seafloor hides! Learn how the professionals of underwater archaeology work!

Exceptional heritage

more than 300 items from CASC excavations


In ancient times, these containers were used to put perfumed oils, ointments, balms, incense or cosmetic preparations.

Culip IV, Cala Culip, Cadaqués, Alt Empordà.

78-82 AD
137 x 62 x 58 mm
Museum of Archaeology of Catalonia


A flat, circular piece of wood from the rigging of a boat that was used to tighten the ends of the lanyards that held the masts firm.

Triunfante, Sant Pere Pescador, Alt Empordà.

350 x 200 mm
Museum of Archaeology of Catalonia


Dice have been a very common game throughout human history. Discipline and work on ships were part of everyday life on board, but there were also the long idle periods where sailors played cards, dominoes, gambling, musical instruments, danced… any hobby was good for distracting the mind from life at sea.

Deltebre I, Deltebre, Baix Ebre.

12 x 13 x 13 mm
Museum of Archaeology of Catalonia

Sextant filters

The sextant is an instrument used to determine the height (angle) at which a star, usually the sun, is from the horizon. In this way, if the time of observation is known, simple calculations can determine the latitude.

Deltebre I, Deltebre, Baix Ebre.

Bronze and glass
71 x 63 x 18 mm
Museum of Archaeology of Catalonia

Lead and Line

This is the most sophisticated instrument used for navigation in Roman times. It is a piece of lead tied to a rope with knots at a known distance. It was thrown into the sea and the knots were counted to calculate the depth.

Aiguablava I, Cala d’Aiguablava, Begur, Baix Empordà.

30-20 BC
132 x 97 mm
Museum of Archaeology of Catalonia


An oval wooden box with a pulley inside, used for hoisting or loosening the sail.
Triunfante, Sant Pere Pescador, Alt Empordà.

360 x 270 x 190 mm
Museum of Archaeology of Catalonia


This bronze lamp appeared in the wreck of the Bon Capó. It was a luxury item that would be part of the secondary cargo. Usually the lanterns that appear on sunken ships are usually made of ceramic.

Bon Capó, cala del Bon Capó, Ametlla de Mar, Baix Ebre

3rd century BC
128 x 47 x 35 mm
Museum of Archaeology of Catalonia


At the bottom of this amphora, fish bones from mackerel species Scomber sombrus were found stuck to the resin that covers its interior to make it waterproof. This way we know that this amphora contained salted mackerel.

Illes Formigues II, Illes Formigues, Palafrugell, Baix Empordà.

Ceramic, olive stones, fish bones, resin
1st century BC
842 x 300 mm
Museum of Archaeology of Catalonia


The exhibition is presented in three major settings, the most outstanding excavations of the Centre for Underwater Archaeology of Catalonia (CASC) and the techniques and working methods of professionals of underwater archaeology.

Culip IV

The Culip IV (Cadaqués) is the first archaeological ship completely excavated in Spain by a team of archaeologists following scientific methodology and objectives.

Deltebre I

The Deltebre I was an English ship of the military contingent that, in May 1813, following orders from General Wellington, set sail from Alicante to attack Tarragona, then in the hands of General Suchet’s French troops.

L’illes Formigues II

The wreck of the Illes Formigues II is lies at a depth of 47 metres. It is the first site in Catalonia to be excavated at such depth following scientific methodology. The location greatly complicates the work because it greatly reduces the dive time of the archaeologists, as this must also be compensated with very long decompression times.


The SHIPWRECKS - Submerged History exhibition helps to raise awareness about the relevance and diversity of our underwater heritage. It is a legacy of our ancestors that must be protected from increasing plunder and human pressure on the coasts, through the resources and underwater archaeology centres that work there to preserve it.


Passeig de Santa Madrona, 39-41
Parc de Montjuïc. 08038 Barcelona
Tel. 93 423 21 49

from 9.30 am to 7 pm

from 10 am to 2.30 pm