Posts Tagged ‘Archaeology’


The Historic Environment: Shared Heritage and Joint Responsibilities? – By Ian Oxley

November 16, 2010

Throughout a thirty-year career in maritime archaeology, a particular hobby-horse of mine has been an element of good practice management that involves jointly sharing heritage responsibilities, as well as benefits and outcomes.

At a basic level, I think that much maritime and underwater heritage is inherently multi-national, a fundamental property opens up great opportunities for co-operative investigation and use, overriding present day boundaries.  It is derived from mobile carriers (ships and boats) travelling between many locations, involving and impacting on many lives, gathering stories so that a rich heritage resource can be re-told now and in the future.

The contributory elements that make up sites that result from this activity can be investigated and presented for education, research and amenity. Making all this happen effectively would seem to be best delivered by a managed contribution from all interested parties, requiring sharing various elements at a range of levels – experience, expertise, knowledge, data, and international, national, and local. It also needs to be effective because archaeological resources are unique, no two sites are the same, and any investigation should be carefully planned so that the maximum of beneficial return is gained with the minimum of impact. This is the joint responsibility bit because the archaeological heritage is a legacy from the past for the future. I hope to show a few examples of what I mean here.

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Underwater Cultural Heritage in Oceania

August 31, 2010

The folks at UNESCO have announced the digital publication of, “Underwater Cultural Heritage in Oceania.” You can view the PDF version here:

Underwater Cultural Heritage in Oceania

Our thanks go out to Barbara Egger for sending that link to us.


Integrating Underwater and Terrestrial Archaeology – By Matthew A. Russell

May 17, 2010

As Jim Delgado reminded us in a recent MUA blog, underwater archaeology has been a separate and distinct sub-discipline of archaeology since George Bass’s first full-scale underwater excavation at Cape Gelidonya in 1960. Unfortunately, many early practitioners of underwater archaeology were not treated as serious scholars by terrestrial colleagues in the mainstream of either classical or anthropological archaeology. From the beginning, underwater archaeologists had to fight the perception that antiquarian-style collecting was the limit to what could be done underwater. This perception was repeatedly challenged through early publications that demonstrated the potential of anthropological archaeology underwater, including Keith Muckelroy’s Maritime Archaeology (1978), and Richard Gould’s edited volume Shipwreck Anthropology (1983), which was based on a School of American Research Advanced Seminar organized by Daniel Lenihan and Larry Murphy in 1981. Early skepticism about the scientific or academic contributions of underwater archaeology may also have been because of the inevitable confusion between treasure hunting and underwater archaeology, a problem that still exists among the public and even among other archaeologists. Despite fifty years of professional underwater archaeological research and publication, a gap still exists between terrestrial and underwater archaeologists.

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La Belle Inventory

April 26, 2010

The Corpus Christi Museum and the Texas Historical Commission are doing
a re-inventory of the La Belle collection over the next year or so.
Every Friday, They will post another entry about the ongoing work or
about artifacts from the (enormous) collection.

You can view their site here:


The Institute of Nautical Archaeology – By Dr. James P. Delgado

March 17, 2010

Founded in 1973, the Institute of Nautical Archaeology is in its 37th year of operation in 2010, and we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first scientific archaeological excavation of a shipwreck under water at Cape Gelidonya.  When journalist/adventurer Peter Throckmorton arrived in Bodrum in the spring of 1958 to write about Turkish sponge divers, he learned of many ancient wrecks as he gained the divers’ confidence.  Throckmorton visited many of them, diving on what he later said were up to a hundred wrecks.  He also visited an underwater excavation off Albenga, Italy, where six divers worked on a Roman wreck, supervised by archaeologists who remained on the deck and did not dive.  Important discoveries were being made elsewhere in the Mediterranean, and in the U.S., and pioneering explorers interested in archaeological discovery were diving, but no one had completely excavated a shipwreck under water. Read the rest of this entry ?


Treasure Hunters, So Few So Loud – United States Perspective – By Dr. Anne Giesecke

February 14, 2010

The purpose of the Abandoned Shipwreck Act (ASA) was to remove shipwrecks in state waters from the federal admiralty court.  After all, the states had the right to permit excavation of state land for any other purpose, sand, oil etc.  Unfortunately, I underestimated the territorial power grab of the federal courts that started about the same time, the early 1980’s,  that has resulted in them declaring jurisdiction over concepts such as abandoned or whatever as well as global claims for the Titanic, Lusitania and the Bismarck.   The federal court applied their power grab even   more aggressively to business by running companies like AT & T and GM.  So the purpose of the ASA was partially met as states had to fight fewer claims in federal court and could put more energy into establishing underwater parks and programs.  The primary purpose of the ASA, from an historical perspective was educational. Read the rest of this entry ?


The 1764 British Sloop Industry Exhibit Gets a Facelift

December 2, 2009

When the MUA “opened” its virtual doors in 2004 our mission was to encourage underwater archaeologists to share their research with the general public and with each other via the Internet.  It was difficult to find that first organization that was willing to post with us.  We were untested and honestly, pretty inexperienced both in public outreach and web design and coding but we believed in the mission.  John W. Morris III, (the first director of LAMP in St. Augustine, FL) took a chance and approached us about using research on the 1764 British sloop Industry for our first exhibit.  For that, we will always be grateful. Since then the MUA has grown to include nearly 300 pages of content written by over 70 professional, student, and avocational underwater archaeologists from around the world.  We are very fortunate that LAMP’s current director, Chuck Meide, still believes in our mission and has worked with us to update the original exhibit with new images, slide shows, zoomviews, and text.  The rather dated look and feel of the original post has been replaced with a new design which we hope does an even better job of telling Industry’s story.

We invite you to view the newly revised British sloop Industry exhibit at the MUA here: