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date: 18 April 2024

Maritime Archaeology of the Post-Ancient World (1400–1946)locked

Maritime Archaeology of the Post-Ancient World (1400–1946)locked

  • James P. DelgadoJames P. DelgadoSEARCH, Inc.


Maritime archaeology is a relatively new aspect of anthropological inquiry into the past and examines humanity’s interaction with the aquatic world. It specifically examines the archaeological remains of human interaction with the world’s waters. These are primarily shipwrecks, or sunken craft of all types and sizes, ranging from antiquity to the modern era. It includes the contents of shipwrecks, usually cargoes, but also personal effects such as baggage or ships’ equipment. Historic submerged resources in maritime archaeological research include now-inundated former ports, harbors, and settlements of the modern era and modern human-made artifacts that are preserved because they now rest under water, such as aircraft, particularly those associated with naval aviation.

The means by which these sites have been and are now interpreted has changed from a 20th-century approach of treating them as adjuncts to history and historical narratives to an anthropological approach in which they are interpreted as aspects of human societies and behavior. This includes ships and seafaring as key players in developing regional and global economies and their role in cultural exchange, colonial endeavors, warfare, and technological advances. The development of a theory of maritime archaeology, which examines the topic from both a submerged and nonsubmerged approach, evolved in the later 20th century and is now the dominant anthropological approach to assessing maritime and marine resources regardless of the context of where a site is located.


  • Archaeology

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