Category Archives: Nautical Archaeology

Archaeology of the Titanic

This month’s Archaeology Magazine highlights the history of the archaeology of the RMS Titanic, the famed “unsinkable” luxury liner that sank after striking an iceberg on April 15 1912. The Titanic has been subject of romance and scholarly inquiry – especially after its rediscovery in 1985.

Archaeology Magazine highlights the history of the search for the ship (multiple failed attempts by various recovery teams preceded the Franco-American expedition that discovered its remains). Learn about the search, the ships recovery, and the complicated conservation that went into preserving the artifacts and burying the remains of those who died at sea that Arctic Night.

Read the full featured article here: “Archaeology of the Titanic”.

The Faces of the Crewmen of the USS Monitor to be Reconstructed

Crew of the USS Monitor

The USS Monitor was one of the first iron clad naval ships and most famous for engaging in battle with the Merrimack (in the first battle between ironclad ships). When the turret of the Monitor was raised, two skeletons were found along with it.

Now, forensic anthropologists are using the skulls of the deceased crewmen in an attempt to reconstruct the faces of the ship’s sailors. The men both appear to be Caucasian and between the ages of 17 and 24.  If successful, this will be the first time their faces have been seen in more than a hundred and fifty years.

To learn more about the USS Monitor, see the article in MSNBC.

The Saga of the Northwest Passage

The quest to discover and navigate the Northwest Passage long enticed explorers and politicians throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. The Northwest Passage is a treacherous sea-route through the Arctic Ocean. It was seen as a potential trade route and not successfully navigated until the early 20th century.

The Northwest Passage

This month’s Archaeology Magazine highlights the dangers of the sea journey and the ill-fated voyage by the HMS Investigator, an expedition led by Robert McClure that was abandoned in 1853 after it was irretrievably trapped in the ice. The ship was rediscovered in 2010 and is subject to investigation and excavation by nautical archaeologists.

Due to the environment and frigid waters, the dangers posed to archaeologists are unique. You can read more about their endeavors and what they have discovered int he 2011 field season in this article: “The Saga of the Northwest Passage.”

HMS Investigator Today

Top 10 Archaeological Discoveries of 2011

This month’s Archaeology Magazine highlights the top ten finds of the 2011 Field Season. The list includes:

Nature Magazine Highlights Nautical Archaeologists

This month’s Nature highlights the work of nautical (marine) archaeologists working in Greece to find shipwrecks dating to the time of the Minoans (approximately 2700 — 1250 BCE).

Underwater archaeologists risk life and limb in frigid waters at dangerous depths to learn more about this pre and semiliterate society. To learn more about their exploits, see the article in this month’s Nature.

H. L. Hunley (Civil War Submarine) Revealed for the First Time

The Civil War submarine, the H. L. Hunley, has finally been unveiled in Charleston, South Carolina. The Hunley, which had several unsuccessful training exercises (resulting in the death of her crew), sank for the third and final time on February 17, 1864.

The rediscovery of and subsequent raising of the Hunley has raised great interest amongst historians and lay-men alike. Now, with this display, individuals are now able to see the Hunley for the first time for more than a century.

“No one alive has ever seen the Hunley complete. We’re going to see it today,” engineer John King

To learn more about the Hunley, its raising, conservation, and see the gorgeous images of this innovative confederate ship, see the article on MSNBC.

Carthage Must Be Destroyed…

Modern Remains of Carthage

Few stories and great clashes are as deeply meaningful and powerful than the nearly century long conflict between Rome and Carthage; we call these conflicts the Punic Wars. Ultimately, Rome would emerge victorious – after great cost of life, land, and statesmen (at the famous Battle of Cannae in 216 BCE, Rome lost both its consuls and over 80,000 men in a single day at the hands of the infamous General Hannibal Barca).

When one studies the wars, looking at it from the beginning, the outcome was not set. In fact, I would have put my money on Carthage. So how did Rome turn the tide and emerge not only victorious, but dominating. In fact, in 146 BCE not only does Rome definitely defeat its mortal enemy (dismantling the city and killing or enslaving the survivors), but it is the same year that Rome defeats the Greeks in Corinth and absorbs that region into their expanding Empire. It was the beginning of the true might that was Rome.

This month’s Archaeology Magazine highlights several new finds off the Western Coast of Sicily, likely related to the Battle of Aegates Islands (a conflict during the first Punic War). They believe that the weapons and ships constructions that they have uncovered will provide greater insight into how Rome ultimately came to dominate the Mediterranean. To read more about this, see the article in Archaeology Magazine.