The Institute


The European Institute for Underwater Archaeology (or IEASM, after Institut Européen d’Archéologie Sous-Marine) is a non profit organisation under French law. Its mission is to research and explore archaeological sites of historical significance.

IEASM is able to call upon outside experts in archaeology, history, conservation restoration, geophysics, geology and advanced technology as required.

The Institute is involved in the restoration of the artifacts it recovers. It publishes monographs and articles about the excavations and their scientific results. It also aims to present the results of its excavations to a wider public through the publications of books, press articles and films as well as the organisation of exhibitions.

IEASM developped a systematic approach to the archaeological sites. This has led to valuable discoveries adding greatly to our historical knowledge. xxxxxx made it possible for several institutions to benefit from the excavations.

Since its foundation, the Institute ihas been directed by Franck Goddio who devotes himself entirely to the underwater archaeology and the dissemination of the discoveries through the publication of books and articles as well as the organisation of exhibitions.

The Institute cooperates closely liaison with the authorities in the countries of which it works and under their supervision. For example, the Far Eastern Foundation for Nautical Archaeology (FEFNA), was established in the Philippines with the project of conducting archaeological excavations in Asia, editing scientific publications and ensuring that the artifacts are exhibited to the public.

The Institute subscribes to the standards of the 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage.

The multinational and interdisciplinary excavation teams are composed of professionals, scientists and experts as required by each of the missions:


In 2003, IEASM, the Hilti Foundation and Oxford University have established the Oxford Centre for Maritime Archaeology (OCMA). OCMA is an intramural research centre at the university’s School of Archaeology.

OCMA teaches maritime archaeology at an undergraduate and postgraduate level and runs conferences on the subject. Postgraduate students are able to examine the artifacts discovered by IEASM. OCMA supervises doctoral theses as well and scientific papers including those on the excavations and results of IEASM. To date, three doctorates have been awarded and three others are in progress.

The monographs published in collaboration with OCMA form part of the monograph series of the School of Archaeology. All the titles are subject to an internal review process by members of the School of Archaelogy, the Oriental Institute of Egyptology and the Ashmolean Museum. Each title is also peer reviewed by relevant experts from outside institutions.

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In its goals and principles, underwater archaeology is no different from terrestrial archaeology. However, the aquatic environment imposes special constraints to which research techniques must be adapted. Before any archaeological excavation, the IEASM practices an original and systematic non-intrusive approach to marine sites, based on geophysical prospecting.

Underwater archaeological prospection is carried out using various sensors which measure the physical characteristics of the site, and aims to highlight the anomalies likely to correspond to remains. A boat, equipped with measuring instruments and acquisition and processing computer systems, traverses the search area along parallel straight lines, called profiles, spaced at 30 to 80 meters depending on the average depth of the site and the size and nature of the remains anticipated.

The boat is positioned in real time by a system of differential satellite positioning (DGPS). NMR magnetometers and side scan sonar, positioned by electric winches are towed by the vessel surface in shallow areas or submerged by hydrodynamic sinkers in deeper water. An acoustic positioning system continuously transmits the relative position of the towed sensors.

The boat is also equipped with high-definition echo sounders. All recorded parameters are subject to a first real-time analysis during prospection. Daily data processing resulted in the creation of bathymetric maps (seafloor relief) and magnetometer (magnetic field) of the surveyed area, complemented by a sonar image of the seafloor (acoustic photograph). The techniques of geophysical analysis highlight discontinuities in the measured parameters, like the ambient magnetic field or the acoustic response. These discontinuities or contrasts are called anomalies.

Carte bathymétrique de la zone d’Héracléion.

In archaeological applications, the amplitude of interesting anomalies is particularly low. They are often combined with many natural geological anomalies, which are also measured by the sensors, and which therefore require distinguishing. The effectiveness of this discrimination rests on the sensitivity of the sensors, their configuration and implementation, the processing of the data, and the correlating analysis of the results of the measurements of the different instruments. A first visual inspection and often submarine surveys are then carried out by experienced divers or instrumented robots to identify the origin of the anomaly measured.

The main sensors of the prospecting system of the IEASM are Nuclear Magnetic Resonance magnetometers. These very sensitive sensors have been developed by the French Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique (CEA). Based on the double magnetic resonance of protons and electrons (Abragam-Overhauser effect), these NMR magnetometers measure the absolute value of the geomagnetic field more than a thousand times per second with a precision of a fifty-millionth of its value.

The theory.
The sensor is a field/frequency converter based on the principle of nuclear magnetic resonance amplified by dynamic electronic polarization. The hydrogen atoms of standard solvents have a magnetic spin proportional to their spin (magnetic movement). Exposed to the Earth’s magnetic field, they precess around the field at a frequency proportional to its module (called the Larmor frequency, from 1 kHz to 3 kHz in the Earth’s magnetic field). The electromagnetic excitation of resonance creates, by the phase coherence of spin, a macroscopic magnetic component precessing at the Larmor frequency. This component induces an AC voltage in the detection coil. The measured frequency gives the value of the magnetic field. The nuclear magnetism created is not directly detectable in the earth’s magnetic field. Dynamic electronic polarization amplifies the nuclear signal by a factor of 1000. The nuclear spins are coupled to the spins of the free electrons of a radical in solution.

Two frequencies of the excitation of the electric resonance are possible: one generates a positive polarisation and the other a negative polarisation. The frequency depends on the solvent used. The careful selection of a pair of the same radical containing solvents will give at the same frequency, a factor of a positive polarisation in one solvent and a factor of negative polarization in the other. This is called the double Overhauser-Abragam effect. The probe consists of two separate flasks of hydrogenated solvents containing a free radical in solution, a excitation circuit of dynamic polarisation at high frequency and a low frequency circuit which respectively and simultaneously excite nuclear resonance and measure the signal. Thus the probe also includes two symmetrical coils placed in opposition.

Earth’s magnetic field superimposes complex phenomena in time and space (geology of the crust, dynamo, solar-terrestrial interaction, the circulation of ionospheric and telluric currents, etc.), involving magnetic and electrical properties. The Earth’s magnetic field can be schematically considered as bipolar with a value between 20000 nano-Tesla (NT) at the equator and 60,000 NT at the poles, to which are added a range of global anomalies (of the order of 10,000 NT), local anomalies with geological origins, and transient phenomena of some tens of NT every 24 hours.

Application to archaeology.
Magnetic anomalies caused by the archaeological remains are superimposed on these natural anomalies. The discrimination between these is based on the very high sensitivity of magnetometers and, if necessary on the measurement of the local magnetic gradient between two towed sensors simultaneously. This reduces gradient reading reduces in real-time temporal variations in the geomagnetic field and allows the rejection of most geological anomalies.

This method using NMR magnetometers can detect very weak magnetic objects, even when deeply buried in sediment. In the Bay of Aboukir, prospecting the search area (110 km2) with a 10m grid requires 22,000 km to be travelled! Moreover, this magnetic survey must meet specific standards: the lines followed by the magnetometer sensors, and thus the boat, should be straight and parallel, at a constant speed and orientation, without any abrupt changes in elevation. Ultimately, only exceptional weather conditions allow satisfactory results to be obtained.

This sensor delivers an acoustic image of a strip of the seabed of 50 to 150 meters on each side of the ship. It reveals rocks or other prominent objects resting on the bottom and can give an indication of their size by a measurement of their projected shadows. The quality of the acoustic images of the seabed depends on the reflectivity of sediments. Several parameters classify the type of side-scan sonar, such as the acoustic frequency, the depth, the width of the beam (horizontal and vertical), and the duration and rate of the pulse. A transducer or "fish" is attached to a cable connected to the boat, thus enabling sound waves to be transmitted perpendicular to the direction of the boat, which are then reflected off the sea floor to be captured by the "fish". Several waves are recorded according to the degree of reflectivity, depending on the type of sediment. An irregular bottom has a lesser degree of reflectivity than a smooth sandy bottom. Obstacles and irregularities that prevent the direct reflection of the sound waves form shadows on the readings. The resulting electronic image reveals the relief of the seabed.

The advantage of sidescan sonar is its great coverage. However, it does not precisely characterize the phenomena identified. Used simultaneously magnetometers can determine if these targets are magnetic or not. The processing of the sonar data results in the creation of a mosaic of the surveyed area by juxaposing the survey strips

Image sonar à balayage latéral du mur sud du temple d’Héracléion et de la construction ronde.

An accurate bathymetric map of the submarine relief is obtained by the use of echosounders. These acoustic sensors deliver a continuous depth measurement along prospecting profiles. They allow the relief mapping of submerged soils to highlight ancient topography. Shallow depressions may indicate old docks while occasional buttes sometimes reveal ancient rows of building blocks. Complete bathymetric coverage was achieved over the entire area with a grid size of 20 or 40 m according to the archaeological interest of the area.

The sediment sounder uses wave emission to distinguish geological changes in ground strata. It reveals their thickness and inclination. However, only geological core samples can clearly reveal their composition. They were developed by geologists to reach significant terrestrial depths, and the first few meters of the seabed, of particular interest for archaeologists, are difficult to assess using sediment sounding. Systematic coverage of the Bay of Aboukir was conducted using a grid mesh of 500m or 200m depending on the magnetometric results.

Zone de prospection au sondeur à sédiments sur le site d’Héracléion

Sections de profil du sondeur à sédiments et localisation des sondages géologiques (C1-C5) sur le site d’Héracleion.

GPS is a system of absolute geographic positioning over the entire surface of the earth, giving the position in latitude, longitude and altitude of a mobile receiver, using the information transmitted by a constellation of satellites. To obtain sub-metre accuracy, the level of precision necessary for archaeological research, a GPS reference station is installed on the ground to send corrections by radio in real time to a mobile receiver. The positions obtained are called differential positions (DGPS).

A short range system, it is based on the regular emission of a sound signal from a transmitter, joined to the sensor to be located, received by a sensor attached to the ship. Several transmitters may be used simultaneously. The position of each transmitter is thus calculated through its distance and azimuth relative to the receiver. The vessel’s DGPS position being known, the precise geographic position of each sensor provided with an acoustic transmitter can be determined in real time.

Franck Goddio, Gérard Schnepp et David Fabre

General publications »

The Institute and its president Franck Goddio take actively part in the presentation of the excavations’ results and in the disclosure of the knowledge acquired by research to a wider public through the publication of books and specialized articles.

The Institute also participates in docu­ment­aries as well as television programmes opening access to videos and images which document the research as the excavations gradually progress. Bibliography »

Scientific publications »

Beginning in 1986, a series of scientific works have been published in collaboration with different publishing houses.

Since its foundation in 2003, the Oxford Cen­ter for Maritime Archaeology (OCMA [link »]) is in charge of the scientific publications of the IEASM missions as well as the studies on the excavations’ artifacts which are carried out by PhD candidates and researchers from Oxford University and other academic institutions.

These publications are part of the collection of monographs of the Oxford School of Archaeology. The redaction of the works is supervised by an internal revision committee and a scientific steering committee which is composed of the principal teaching staff of the School of Archaeology, the Department of Egyptology and the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology. This way, each title is submitted for peer evaluation. Bibliography »

The monographs are distributed world-wide by Oxbow Books and can be ordered at their website: [link »]

Franck Goddio is the founding president of the European Institute for Underwater Archaeology (IEASM) and the Far Eastern Foundation for Nautical Archaeology (FEFNA) in the Philippines. He is also the co-founder of the Oxford Centre for Maritime Archaeology (OCMA). He was recently appointed Senior Visiting Lecturer by the School of Archaeology at Oxford University.

Since 1985 Franck Goddio has initiated and coordinated research and excavations in the Philippines in cooperation with the National Museum in Manila. Notably, ten South-East Asian junks and ships (from the 11th to the 16th century), three Spanish galleons - San Diego (1600), the Nuestra Señora de la Vida (17th century), the San José (1794) - and two ships of the East India Company - the Griffin (1761) and the Royal Captain (1773) - have been subject to archaeological analysis.

In Egypt, Franck Goddio directs, in collaboration with the Supreme Council for Antiquities, the explorations and underwater excavation in the Great Habour of Alexandria, where innovative working methods had to be devised for this heavily polluted and intensely sedimented area. In 1996, research resulted in a detailed cartography of the Eastern port of the city and its surroundings from the Ptolemaic and Roman periods. The current operations are aimed at studying the structure of the sites that once were erected near the palace or coastal buildings and thus putting in context the natural phenomena which finally led to the destruction of the site.

In the same year, employing the same scientific methodology, Franck Goddio launched an extensive geophysical survey with the object of mapping the submerged region of ancient Canopus situated about 20 miles north-east of Alexandria. This resulted in the identification of outline of the region, the position of the old river-bed of the western arm of the Nile and the slocation and topography of the principal archaeological deposits from the Late Period in the Islamic age. The cities of Canopus East and Thonis-Heracleion, discovered in 1997 and in 2000, are also currently being excavated under the direction Franck Goddio’s direction.

Publications (selected) :

F. Goddio, D. Fabre (eds), Alexandria. The Topography of the Portus Magnus. Underwater archaeology in the Eastern Port of Alexandria in Egypt, Oxford Centre for Maritime Archaeology Monograph, OCMA, Oxford, en prep.

F. Goddio, « Heracleion-Thonis and Alexandria, two ancient Egyptian Emporia », in D. Robinson, A. Wilson (eds.), Maritime Archaeology and Ancient Trade in the Mediterranean, Oxford Centre for Maritime Archaeology Monograph 6, OCMA, Oxford, 2011, p. 121-37.

F. Goddio, « Geophysical Survey in the Submerged Canopic Region », in D. Robinson, A. Wilson (eds.), Alexandria and the North-Western Delta, Oxford Centre for Maritime Archaeology Monograph 5, OCMA, Oxford, 2010, p. 3-13.

F. Goddio, D. Fabre, « The Development and Operation of the Portus Magnus in Alexandria : an Overview », in D. Robinson, A. Wilson (eds.), Alexandria and the North-Western Delta, Oxford Centre for Maritime Archaeology Monograph 5, OCMA, Oxford, 2010, p. 53-74.

F. Goddio, The Topography and Excavation of Heracleion-Thonis and East Canopus (1996-2006). Underwater Archaeology in the Canopic Region, Oxford Centre for Maritime Archaeology Monograph 1, OCMA, Oxford, 2007

F. Goddio, et al., Trésor de porcelaines - L’étrange voyage de la jonque Lena, Periplus, London, 2002.

The Institute and the Oxford Centre for Maritime Archaeology (OCMA) jointly teach classes and organise symposia and conferences on underwater archaeology. The resulting papers are published under the auspices of OCMA.


Heracleion in context: The maritime economy of the Egyptian Late Period
The Queen’s College, University of Oxford : 15-17 March 2013.
OCMA - Symposium Oxford
To be published

Cleopatra and the End of the Hellenistic world
Pennsylvania University and Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, USA : 29-30 October 2010
Franklin Institute
OCMA - Symposium Philadelphia

East meets West along the Maritime Silk Route
Waseda University, Tokyo, Japon : 2-3 July 2009
OCMA - Symposium Tokyo

Maritime Archaeology and Ancient Trade in the Mediterranean
Universidad Carlos III Madrid, Espagne : 18-20 September 2008
OCMA - Symposium Madrid

The Trade and Topography of Egypt’s North-west Delta: 8th century BC to 8th century AD
Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, Allemagne : 28-30 July 2006
OCMA - Symposium Berlin

Alexandria : City and Harbour
St Hugh’s College, Oxford, Grande Bretagne : 18-19 december 2004
OCMA - Symposium Oxford


Goddio, Franck: The Celebration of the Mysteries of Osiris in the Submerged Canopic region, From Epigraphy to Archaeology, Institute of Archaeology, Oxford, November 18th, 2013.

Grataloup, Catherine: Herakleion: Saïte imported Pottery and new Element about Vase of Persian Period-Local Dynasties, Naukratis Workshop, 16th-17th December 2011, British Museum, Londres.

Grataloup, Catherine: The ceramic evidence from Herakleion and Alexandria from the Ptolemaic to the early Roman periods. Cleopatra Sypmposium, 29-30 October 2010, Philadelphie, USA.

Goddio, Franck: La prospección subacuática, clave de la protección del patrimonio sumergido, in conférence sur la protection du patrimoine maritime submergé, 13-15 April 2010, Museo Naval Madrid.

Goddio, Franck.: Underwater Archaeology in the Philippines, 1985-2009, OCMA Special Lecture, 18 November 2009, Oxford.

Fabre, David and Belov Alexander: The shipwrecks of Heracleion-Thonis (Egypt) : An Overview, in Galina A. Belova, Achievements and Problems of Modern Egyptology. International Conference, Moscow, 29 September - 3 October 2009, Moscow

Fabre, David: The shipwrecks of Heracleion-Thonis (Egypt). Preliminary Study and Research Perspectives, in East meets West along the Maritime Silk Route. Waseda University, Tokyo, 2-3 July 2009, OCMA.

Goddio, Franck: The ports and cities of the submerged Canopic region, in East meets West along the Maritime Silk Route, Waseda University, Tokyo, 2-3 July 2009, OCMA.

Grataloup, Catherine: Ceramic of Herakleion: Preliminary Study of an Underwater Survey in the Western Area of the Egyptian Delta. Nile Delta WOrkshop: Egyptians and Foreigners in the Nile Delta: Trade and Interaction, 20 June 2009, British Museum, Londres.

Goddio, Franck: The harbours of the Alexandrian coast : Heracleion-Thonis and Alexandria, in Maritime Archaeology and Ancient Trade in the Mediterranean. Universidad Carlos III, Madrid, 18-20 September 2008, OCMA.

Fabre, David: The organisation of maritime Trade in ancient Egypt : the Example of Heraclieon-Thonis, in Maritime Archaeology and Ancient Trade in the Mediterranean. Université Carlos III, Madrid, 18-20 September 2008, OCMA.

Dupoizat, Marie-France: The Ceramic of the "Investigator" Shipwreck. Symposium on the Chinese Export ceramic Trade in Southeast Asia. National Library Board, Singapore, 12-14th March 2007. in prep.

Goddio, Franck: Herakleion-Thonis : A Port of Entry into Egypt. Location and Preliminary Topography of the City, in the Trade and Topography of Egypt’s North-west Delta : 8th century BC to 8th century AD, Berlin, 28-30 July 2006, OCMA.

Nur, Amos: Destructive Earthquakes in Alexandria and Aboukir Bay, In Alexandria and the North-Western Delta, Berlin, 28-30 July 2006, OCMA.

Goddio, Franck: The Enigma of the Cities of Heracleion and Thonis Revealed., in European Egyptologists, a gaze at the future, 19-24 September 2006, Cracaw.

Robinson, Zoe: Living with Metals in Hellenistic Egypt : New Finds from Heracleion-Thonis, in the Trade and Topography of Egypt’s North-west Delta : 8th century BC to 8th century AD, Berlin, 28-30 July 2006, OCMA.

Kiss, Zsolt: Le Dieu Nil hellénistique : A propos dune sculpture de Canope, in the Trade and Topography of Egypt’s North-west Delta : 8th century BC to 8th century AD, Berlin, 28-30 July 2006, OCMA.

Libonati, Emma S.: Hydreios Statues from the IEASM Excavation in Aboukir Bay, in the Trade and Topography of Egypt’s North-west Delta : 8th century BC to 8th century AD, Berlin, 28-30 juillet 2006, OCMA.

Stolz, Yvonne: Jewellery finds fom site T in Aboukir Bay, in the Trade and Topography of Egypt’s North-west Delta : 8th century BC to 8th century AD, Berlin, 28-30 July 2006, OCMA.

Bomhard (von) Sophie A.: The Naos of the Decades : The discovery of the New Fragment and their Contribution to the Interpretation of the Monument, in the Trade and Topography of Egypt’s North-west Delta : 8th century BC to 8th century AD, Berlin, 28-30 July 2006, OCMA.

Grataloup, Catherine, Fabre David: Heracleion : Occupation and trade evidence from the late Period to the Ptolemaic period, in the Trade and Topography of Egypt’s North-west Delta : 8th century BC to 8th century AD, Berlin, 28-30 July 2006 OCMA.

Goddio, Franck: Underwater archaeology : Method and techology, March 2006, Journées du Patrimoine archéologique, National Museum of the Philippines, Manila.

Goddio, Franck: Travaux récents dans la région d’Alexandrie, 16 May 2005, Centre culturel français d’Alexandrie.

Goddio, Franck: Les découvertes du Prince Omar Toussoun en baie d’Aboukir in Omar Toussoun et ses découvertes à Alexandrie, 17 February 2005, Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Alexandrie.

Goddio, Franck: General topography of the Portus Magnus : Interpretating the excavations (1992-2000), in Alexandria and the North-Western Delta, St Hugh’s College Oxford, 18-19 December 2004, OCMA.

Stanley, Jean-Daniel. et Landau E.: Submergence of Archaeological Sites in Alexandria’s Eastern Harbour, in Alexandria and the North-Western Delta, St Hugh’s College Oxford 18-19 December 2004, OCMA.

Goddio, Franck: Thonis-Heracleion : transfer of the Emporium to the Portus Magnus, 7 November 2004, Centre culturel français d’Alexandrie.

Yoyotte, Jean et Goddio, Franck: Découverte d’Héraklion d’Egypte dans la baie d’Aboukir, 24 June 2004, auditorium du Louvre, Paris.

Goddio, Franck: Thonis-Heracleion, antique Emporium d’Egypte : mythe et réalité, May 2004, Centre culturel français d’Alexandrie.

Goddio, Franck: Archéologie sous-marine : méthodes et techniques, May 2001, La Havane.

Goddio, Franck: The Topography of the Portus Magnus, 10 April 2001, The Bristish Museum, Londres.

Goddio, Franck: Trésor englouti : Céramiques chinoise du XVe siècle provenant de la jonque Lena, 6 April 2001, Collection Baur, Genève.

Goddio, Franck: Les dernières fouilles à Alexandrie, December 2002, Unesco, Alexandrie.

Crick, Monique: Typologie des porcelaines provenant de la jonque Lena, Colloque de la SFECO, 23-24 November 2000, Musée Cernuschi, Paris.

Goddio, Franck: Fouille d’une jonque de l’époque Hongzhi aux Philippines, Colloque de la SFECO, 23-24 November 2000, Musée Cernuschi, Paris.

Goddio, Franck: Underwater archaeological survey of Alexandria’s Eastern Harbour, in International Workshop on Submarine Archaeology and Coastal Management, Alexandria 7-11 April 1997, University of Alexandria and UNESCO.

Dupoizat, Marie-France: The Ceramic Cargo of a Song Dynasty Junk Fond in the Philippines and its Significances in the China-South East Asia Trade, South East Asian and China Art, Interaction & Commerce, colloquies on Art and Archaeology in Asia, 17, Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art, London 1995.

The activities of IEASM in the field of maritime archaeology are supported by important companies.

For more than fifteen years, the HILTI Foundation has been a loyal patron of all research activities of the IEASM in Egypt. The activities of the Institute are one of the central engagements of the cultural wing of the Foundation.

In the past, other partners such as the Gould Foundation, EADS, Commerzbank and the ELF Foundation have participated in specific projects.

The involvement of institutions like the Asso­ciation française d’Action artistique (AFAA) at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in France or the Culture Fund of the Communidad Autonoma de Madrid and the Caja Madrid (Spain) in aspects of different projects reflects the interest of European cultural decision-makers in making heritage known to a wider public.

HILTI Foundation