Robin Piercy really wanted to be a farmer. But he trained as a quantity surveyor, which in his native England means someone who estimates quantities and costs of building materials for architectural designs. He first became involved in underwater work in 1966 with a University of London group testing new underwater survey tools in the south of France. He caught the underwater archaeology bug, began University of London extra-mural archaeology studies, and the next year in Italy organized a survey season in the Garigliano River for John Huston’s newly founded Council of Underwater Archaeology; the same year he assisted Peter Throckmorton on the excavation for the University of Pennsylvania Museum of a Roman marble carried at Torre Sgarrata, in Italy's Gulf of Taranto.


In 1968 he joined Michael Katzev as a member of the team that excavated and restored the classical Greek ship off the coast of northern Cyprus at Kyrenia – with an interlude on the Restiquoche excavation in cold Canadian waters following the first summer at Kyrenia. He returned to Cyprus as assistant director of the Kyrenia project, and in 1970 also served as assistant director of David Owen's excavation of a Classical Greek shipwreck near Porticello, Italy, for the University of Pennsylvania Museum and the Geographical Society of Philadelphia.

In early 1975, INA was able to add both Robin, who had been vice-president Michael Katzev's right-hand man on Cyprus, and Don Frey, who had been president George Bass's right-hand man in Turkey, to its small staff. They became the core of so much of INA's successful history.

Robin soon moved to Turkey, where he has lived ever since. He and Don assisted the excavation of Late Roman and Ottoman shipwrecks at Yassi Ada, Turkey, and then joined Franco Colosimo and George in 1976 on an underwater survey around Sicily. Robin and Don then returned to assist Michael’s excavation of the third-century B.C. Secca di Capistello wreck, off the island of Lipari, one of the sites visited on the survey. Soon after, when INA was invited to inspect a wreck at Mombasa, Kenya, Robin and Don made the inspection, followed by Robin's full-scale excavation from 1977 to 1980, for INA and the National Museums of Kenya, of what he was able to identify as the Portuguese Santo Antonio de Tanna, built in Goa, and sunk in 1697 while trying to lift the siege of Mombasa’s Fort Jesus by Omani Arabs. He will publish the results of the excavation in the INA Nautical Archaeology Series of the Texas A&M University Press.

Back in Turkey, Robin dived with INA survey teams and served as technical director of INA excavations at Sheytan Deresi, Serçe Limanı, Uluburun, Bozburun, Tektaş Burnu, and Pabuç Burnu, where his skill at building comfortable camps, often on the sides of inhospitable cliffs, proved invaluable. From his experience at Kyrenia, he additionally was able to design and operate a superb wood-conservation facility in Bodrum, and to assist in the display of the Serçe Limanı "Glass Wreck" in the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology. At the same time, his formal training made him the perfect person to serve for years as INA's overseer of the construction of the INA campus in Bodrum, of which we are all rightly proud.

Now retired, just outside Bodrum, Turkey, Robin at last has time for a little farming.

 

Robin Piercy on Sicilian survey in 1976