Talk:Maritime archaeology

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earlier comments[edit]

The Gustloff and the Goya, so far as I can tell, are dive sites but are not yet maritime archaeological sites - this is based on a google search. HJ, do you have web links that would prove that these belong on Maritime archaeology - this is not just a list of shipwrecks, after all. MichaelTinkler

It seems, that at present the Gustloff (Goya and General Steuben) sites are memorial sites. I can not tell for sure. user:H.J.

Should maritme archaeology include submerged cities like Alexandria? --rmhermen

Removed from page until we are sure that these are archaelogy sites:

Pulled out pending citation[edit]

I have pulled out the following paragraph, pending citation:

For an exceedingly helpful map of some ancient maritime routes between 25 and 220 CE, please see Eurasian Trade Routes at the Time of the Eastern Han Dynasty, posted at Chinese-Western contacts and chess by Peter Banaschak. Apparently, the maritime route leading to Lothal on this map (located southeast of Karachi, Pakistan) may be millennia older than this map suggests.

Reasons: (1) Original research. (2) Wikipedia is not a linkdump. (3) Wikipedia:Cite your sources. (4) Wikipedia:Check your facts. (5) Wikipedia:Avoid weasel words. More paragraphs like this might follow. Additions like this really should be substantiated; they suspiciously look like non-notable fringe theories. — mark 21:35, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Other paragraphs pulled out pending citation from reputable, academic sources (for the same five reasons mentioned above):

Ancient Seafaring
In Lothal, India, there is secondary evidence of sea-going craft. Archaeologists have discovered a massive, dredged canal and docking facility at this coastal city of the Indus Valley. See Lothal and Indus Valley Civilization: Economy.
Coincidentally, Lapis lazuli was being traded from its only known source in the ancient world – Badakshan, in what is now northeastern Afghanistan – as far as Mesopotamia and Egypt by the second half of the 4th millennium BC. By the 3rd millennium BC trade was extended to Harappa and Mohenjo-daro in the Indus valley.
Sometime around the 13th century BC a "Suez Canal" was dug between the River Nile and the Mediterranean Sea. See Suez Canal. Egyptian pharaoh Necho II (610 - 595 BC) then completed the canal by extending it from the Nile to the Gulf of Suez, thereby allowing ship passage between the Mediterranean Sea and Red Sea. However, because the Nile deposits much sediment, the canal probably silted up quite quickly. It was restored several times, notably by Darius I, Ptolemy II and Trajan. But by the 8th century the Suez Canal had become unnavigable and likely remained so for the next thousand years.
The earliest indications of shipbuilding in the Atlantic are attributed to the Saharan Mende-speaking peoples. Recent excavations point to a possible link between ancient Egypt and prehistoric Mende-peoples who may have migrated out of Sudan. See History of Ancient Egypt. Artistic impressions dating to between 10,000 and 8,000 BC depict Saharan men as wearing round helmets akin to those depicted in Olmec statues. See Olmec.
Included in the nomes of ancient Egypt are names associated with harpoons. Actual harpoons dating to 3000 BC have been found in West Africa, indicating ancient seafaring as early. See West Africa: History.

Links to other Wikipedia articles do not constitute references and do not help to establish Wikipedia:Verifiability. More disturbing is the fact that this web of 'supportive facts' in several articles referring to each other has been added unilaterally by one user, apparently to lend the unsubstantiated statements the appearance of credibility. Edits like this are harmful to Wikipedia.

Some parts of the text may be usable. Therefore I have chosen to preserve the text here on the Talk page rather than deleting it. It should be noted however that anything should be carefully checked before being re-added.

There is still more that needs to be checked and most probably does not belong here because it either constitutes original research or is simply false or irrelevant. — mark 21:51, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Oceanic archaeology[edit]

Has anyone got a reason why this should not be merged with Oceanic archaeology? adamsan 09:18, 22 May 2005 (UTC)

I have suggested that Oceanic archaeology be merged into this article i.e. added merge tags and added it to the project archaeology as a possible merge. Oceanic archaeology is an orphaned article. Viv Hamilton 13:01, 1 March 2006 (UTC)
I have also asked around the maritime archaeologists I know (non-wikipedians) and no-one knows of any specalised use of the term oceanic archaeology, so we suspect it is a mistranslation of maritime archaeology Viv Hamilton 13:01, 1 March 2006 (UTC)
Symbol support vote.svg Support. - I would support such a merge - the differences, if any, seem minor beyond the obvious matter of semantics and the requirement to be in an Ocean, or possibly by implication, at great depth. No, I say merge. :: Kevinalewis : (Talk Page) 15:52, 1 March 2006 (UTC)
God yes, merge em and let's stop spreading disinformation about this supposed oceanic archaeology. adamsan 20:02, 1 March 2006 (UTC)

Merge complete, with some restructuring and additional material Viv Hamilton 22:58, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

What Maritime archaeology should cover[edit]

Maritime archaeology is a broad field and includes what is covered in the oceanic archaeology page, as well as archaeology that is culturally associated with the sea e.g. coastal, ports, nautical culture etc. Currently there is too much emphasis on shipwrecks (which are covered elsewhere as well). The proposed merge would improve this article. I propose to improve this artcile with additional material covering the broad range of the subject, and expand Underwater archaeology, which is currently a stub, with material on techniques, difficulty of access etc. In parallel, I am planning to do some work on shipwrecks, so that we end up with material about archaeologically interesting shipwrecks here (or linked to specific articles on notable wrecks/wrecksites) and the receational diving side of shipwrecks elsewhere (with links back to here for those divers who are interested in archaeology. I am also proposing notability criteria for shipwrecks Viv Hamilton 13:01, 1 March 2006 (UTC)

Preservation of material[edit]

I have added back material on the exceptional preservation of material possible on underwater sites. It is quite true, the seabed is not a peat bog (although peat bogs often exist under the sea, such as at Hartlepool). Peat bogs are acidic so that bone, glass and textile is unlikely to survive. The sea bed provides the possibility of a range of different anaerobic environments, including neutral, acid and alkaline. There is a considerable body of conservation science that has been developed to understand the preservation, and conservation of material in such environments. The point about human intervention on archaeological sites is not a political point, it is part of the reality of archaeology. If I find a sixteenth century structure on land, I will have to interpret how man has interacted with it over the subsequent centuries. The remains of historic ships such as the Mary Rose however are often undisturbed (although subject to post depositional forces from the sea). Viv Hamilton 18:14, 29 January 2007 (UTC)

The viewpoint that the ocean safely stores sites is much more strongly associated with anti-archaeological political manifestos like the UNESCO Convention on the Preservation of Underwater Cultural Heritage, which makes underwater archaeology illegal. Much of the non-intervention policy being proposed at present seems to draw from NAGPRA (designed to protect religions, rather than scientific or historical interests) and are in direct opposition to archaeology as a field. It might be appropriate to include a section on why underwater archaeology should be banned, if you like, but trying to pretend the science supports it is inappropriate in my view. In situ preservation proponents admit it is costly and has a limited potential time frame for effectiveness. See Manders M.R. "The In Situ Preservation of a Dutch Colonial Vessel in Sri Lankan Waters" in Grenier et al., eds. Underwater Cultural Heritage at Risk, April 2006 (available at <>). This article, from a supporter of in situ preservation, admits it is (a) costly, (b) of limited utility, and (c) lets parts of sites get destroyed. Then we can have the argument about artifact handling and the superiority of non-profit site management. Try asking sometime what happened to the cannon on the Mary, or why the grid was disassembled at the site of the Mary Rose.

Don't agree that UCPUCH makes underwater archaeology illegal since it actually imposes a duty for competent investigation. It is partly this duty that makes the UK scared to sign it. All that underwater archaeology that nobody is doing anything about and that would cost a fortune to do properly! However, that isn't the main point. Interesting references and I totally agree that in situ preservation can be total nightmare. The fact that something has survived so far, doesn't mean it will continue to do so. Quite the reverse in fact, when you consider that just as with bodies in peat bogs, they are only found when the site that did the preserving is disturbed to an extent likely to cause future total destruction. I've moved the material you added from the opening paragraph to the section on preservation, just leaving a summary in the opening paragraph and restructured it. It does give a better balance. The trouble is that as with land archaeology, we all get totally exited about the small percentage that has been preserved through time and ignore the vast amount that has been lost. As you will have probably noticed, I'm more of a wooden wreck than a metal wreck person. And you're right that current conservation science doesn't seem to have an underwater solution for metal wrecks, whereas for wooden wrecks, they don't have a solution to the sulphur problem, so keeping it underwater, with the addition of protection, and assuming you have a site that provides physical protection and security, (!) (preferably in cold water of course) would appear to have a slight edge. Viv Hamilton 17:31, 14 March 2007 (UTC)

I appreciate you might think UNESCO/CPUCH is what it claims to be, but the political reality behind it is that its authors and their proponents are trying to control who does underwater archaeology. They fear (rightly) that private operations will lead the way as the introduction of advanced techniques and technologies makes it impossible for underwater hobbyists to do anything mistakable for a competent job. The answer is to make it illegal for private parties to act without their permission. Jurisdictions with UNESCO/CPUCH-like local law should be carefully examined to see the practical impact of rules of this type. The sad fact is that after Australia made private archaeological effort largely illegal, there was no surge in government operations, and the "amnesty" for people with previously-found objects resulted in zero property turnovers. Essentially, excluding private operators is a recipe for ensuring it's all done under the table, and outside the light of studies examination. If the only concern were the duty to operate in a competent manner, then rules like those in the UK would be sufficient: when the site is archaeological, one works with government oversight. This isn't sufficient to the purposes of UNESCO/CPUCH's authors, though. They want all investigation to be illegal until they have approved it, unless the investigators can prove in advance that the site is in immediate danger. Of course, the proposed treaty doesn't set forth what standard will be used, but it (unhelpfully) creates a legal presumption that sites should be left as-is. To collect the evidence that the site is at risk, one must investigate the site, which is illegal until enough evidence is in-hand to prove the site is at risk. Think about this. What competent, rule-abiding operator would invest substantial sums to do serious archaeological work in such an environment? The minute they begin they are illegals branded as looters. UNESCO/CPUCH is thus a compete victory for its proponents' objective of eliminating competition. As political insiders and government actors, they have little worry about colliding with the law; they will do as they please with the consent of their gatekeeper political allies. UNESCO/CPUCH is about un-leveling the playing field for the benefit of political insiders. It also creates some ridiculous rules about collections policy that are at odds with rules held by world-reknowned museums, also simply to keep strangers out of their turf. UNESCO/CPUCH is a weapon in a turf war, and not a serious tool to advance underwater archaeology. I expect flames for describing it this way, but I've seen the unethical behavior of its proponents and I know it's not the tool of honest men. Like most well-crafted bad law, it looks like it does something useful until it is investigated. The fact that its legitimate objectives are all capable of being achieved without UNESCO/CPUCH's crazy efforts to legislate specific theories into law, or its extreme requirements regarding collections policy, is a pretty good indicator that the convention is about controlling the field for political purposes rather than in advancing the field for the benefit of the public or posterity. User:Sea-Dragons 17:45, 31 March 2007 (UTC)

Maritime vs Underwater Archaeology[edit]

Shouldnt underwater archaeology be the more general term with maritime being a speciality? Adresia (talk) 10:51, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

Most people take underwater to mean physically underwater. Maritime archaeology is generally taken to encompass culture associated with 'wet' e.g. Delgado (Encyclopaedia of Underwater and Maritime Archaeology - 1997) defines maritime archaeology as:
the study of human interaction with the sea, lakes and rivers through the archaeological study of material manifestations of maritime culture including vessels, shore-side facilities, cargoes and even human remains and defines underwater archaeology as
the environment in which the work is undertaken, as well as specific approaches required for working underwater and the unique levels of preservation not usually found on dry land sites
So mostly they are partially rather than fully overlapping terms. I could be a maritime archaeologist and never get wet by studying dockyards for example. An academic is more likely to consider the subject to be maritime archaeology, because it is about the study of human culture (whereever we happen to find the material remains), but if I was hiring myself out as a competent fieldworker, I might want to emphasise that I had specialised underwater archaeology skills. Hope this helps Viv Hamilton (talk) 20:25, 14 December 2007 (UTC)

Rising seas 'clue' in sunken world off Orkney[edit]

--Mais oui! (talk) 05:43, 17 December 2009 (UTC)