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It was in Turkey that George Bass began to set the standards for scientific underwater excavation in 1960 with a Late Bronze Age shipwreck from around 1200 B.C. at Cape Gelidonya. Since then he and other INA pioneers have excavated shipwrecks of the 16th, 14th, 6th, 5th, 3rd, and 1st centuries B.C., and 4th, 7th, 9th, 11th, and 4th centuries A.D., thereby beginning to write a history of Mediterranean ships and shipping that would have been impossible only 50 years ago. > Read More
In the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology one can see a full-scale replica of the 14th-century B.C. Uluburun wreck and the remains of a 5th-century B.C. wreck excavated at Tektaş Burnu, walk on the deck of a full-scale replica of the 7th-century Byzantine wreck at Yassıada, and see the restored remains of the 11th-century wreck excavated at Serçe Limanı with its immense cargo of glass; artifacts from the other wrecks are also on exhibit. Cemal Pulak continues this tradition of research with his work on eight wrecks in the silted harbor of Byzantine Constantinople at Yenikapı, and by studying for publication the Ottoman Kadırga, a rare and significant preserved row galley in the Turkish Naval Museum in Istanbul.
On nearby Cyprus, Michael Katzev excavated a 4th-century B.C. Greek ship off Kyrenia that is now beautifully restored and displayed in the Kyrenia Castle. At the Italian island of Lipari, INA archaeologists in collaboration with SubSea Oil Services of Milan conducted the first deep-water excavation utilizing saturation diving.
Elsewhere, INA archaeologists have excavated a post-Medieval shipwreck off the Bulgarian coast, surveyed for wrecks in the Black Sea off Georgia, and examined for future excavation, a 3rd-century B.C. wreck off the coast of Albania.
While INA research associates have worked in this significant region on sites ranging from the famous 17th-century warship Vasa, raised intact from Sweden’s Stockholm Harbor, to landfilled wrecks of various periods in the former seabeds of Holland’s polders, INA did not participate in any projects in this region until 2008, when it joined as a junior partner in the analysis of an intact Baltic wreck.
INA has conducted several projects in the Caribbean, many of them focusing on searches for and the excavation of the ships that date to the earliest European encounters with the New World. The fact that Christopher Columbus lost vessels at different locations during his voyages has inspired searches for his ships in Jamaica’s St. Ann’s Bay and off Panamá’s Río Belen. Jamaica was also the setting of a multi-year excavation of the fabled pirate city of Port Royal, destroyed by an earthquake on June 7, 1692. > Read More
Other important projects include the excavation of an early A.D. 16th-century shipwreck at Molasses Reef in the Turks and Caicos, and study of another 16th-century wreck, at Highborne Cay in the Bahamas. Other significant projects have included the Reader’s Point Wreck, an A.D. 18th-century sloop in St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica, and the Monte Cristi Pipe Wreck, an A.D. 17th-century merchant trader that wrecked off Hispanolia in the Dominican Republic.
INA and its associates have conducted work in Mexico and in Panamá, most recently in 2008 with a survey of the historically important entrance to the Río Chagres, and in the archaeological documentation of Sub Marine Explorer, an 1865, New York-built craft that is the world’s oldest known surviving deep-diving submarine.
INA began work in North America with a variety of projects that focused on early and important aspects of American history and pioneering aspects of American nautical technology. These included a survey of shipwrecks associated with the climactic naval and land battle of the American Revolution at Yorktown, Virginia, the 1976 test excavation of one of these wrecks, the “Cornwallis Cave Wreck,” and the excavation of the Revolutionary War privateer Defence in Maine’s Penobscot Bay.> Read More
Another early project included the survey of the steamboat Black Cloud, which sank In Texas’ Trinity River. INA and Texas A&M University’s J. Richard Steffy consulted in the documentation and reconstruction of other important shipwrecks such as the Water Street, or Ronson Ship, a vessel discovered in Colonial-era landfill in downtown Manhattan.
INA’s role in studying, documenting and interpreting North America’s nautical archaeology and history was underscored in 1989 when founder Dr. George F. Bass edited and published Ships and Shipwrecks of the Americas. Recent projects have included the excavation and study of the Confederate blockade runner Denbigh in Galveston Bay, a project that continues with detailed analysis of this important wreck from the Civil War and a series of publications, and a multi-year survey of wrecks and abandoned hulks associated with the Klondike Gold Rush in Canada’s Yukon.
The Middle East
The Middle East has an ancient and venerable maritime tradition that dates from early antiquity with voyages along the Arabian peninsula and the shores of the Levant, as well as up the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Among the more significant INA projects in this region has been the excavation by Shelley Wachsmann of a graveyard of ships in Tanura Lagoon, Israel, off the ancient site of Tel Dor; the wrecks include remains from six ships, ranging in age from the 4th to 10th centuries A.D., and even the 18th century.> Read More
Students, faculty and staff from INA, Texas A&M University, and Haifa University’s Recanati Center for Maritime Studies documented these shipwrecks between 1994 and 1996. Dr. Wachsmann has also surveyed for wrecks off the coast of Israel, and is currently searching for Minoan wrecks on the sea route between Crete and Egypt. INA’s Asaf Oron, meanwhile, has conducted a survey for sites along the receding shores of the Dead Sea.
Another significant project was a 10-week survey by Ralph Pedersen off the coast of the Persian Gulf state of Bahrain, which revealed one shipwreck and hinted at the potential of additional discoveries.
For millennia, Asia’s waters and rivers have been the setting of trade, warfare, exploration and settlement. The South China Sea in particular has been compared by some scholars to the Mediterranean thanks to the rich interplay between the civilizations of China, Korea, Japan, Southeast Asia, the island cultures of the Philippines, Taiwan, and Indonesia, and their interconnections with East Asia, especially India. There is also a rich maritime tradition with seagoing rafts and canoes spreading populations and cultures across the Pacific.> Read More
INA first worked in Asia in the 1976 when Donald H. Keith joined the Korean team working on the Shinan Wreck, a Yuan Dynasty (13th century A.D.) vessel lost off Korea. INA research associate Jeremy Green joined the survey for Kublai Khan’s lost fleet off Japan a few years later, but INA did not get further involved in Asian nautical archaeology until recently. Now, with Kenzo Hayashida, Randall Sasaki and Jun Kimura, INA has worked on projects in Japan, notably an analysis of timber remains from the wrecks lost off Takashima in 1281 when Kublai Khan lost a fleet of ships to Japanese defenders and a storm the Japanese call the “divine wind,” or kamikaze, and a recent project with the remains of the Turkish frigate Ertuğrul, sunk by a typhoon in 1890 with the loss of over 500 lives.
INA has also been involved, thanks to the work of research associate Dr. Ralph K. Pedersen in the excavation and analysis of India’s first ancient hull to be discovered, the Kadakkarapally Boat. Also in this area of the world, INA has conducted the Godavaya Ancient Shipwreck Excavation since 2012, bringing to light a better understanding of this Roman wreck.
For nearly a decade, Douglas Haldane and Cheryl Ward directed a branch of INA in Egypt until 2003. INA’s early work in Egypt has included projects from the documentation and analysis of wooden riverine craft buried with the pharaohs to the study of the reliefs of Pharaoh Ramses III’s battle against the “Sea Peoples” on the walls of his mortuary temple at Medinet Habu. From 1995 to 1998 INA-Egypt excavated a trading vessel that sank around 1765 near Sadana Island in the Red Sea.> Read More
More recently INA research associates have worked on two exciting initiatives — a search with ground penetrating radar for buried boats entombed in pits next to the pyramids at Dashur, and assisting a larger project at Wadi Gawasis, on the Red Sea Coast, where a team led by Rodolfo Fattovich of the Universita Degli Studi di Napoli and Kathryn Bard of Boston University is documenting the remains of the harbor where Egypt’s pharaohs launched voyages to Punt, and where caves have yielded timbers and rigging from Egyptian seagoing craft.
Other INA projects in Africa include Robin Piercy’s landmark excavation with the National Museums of Kenya of the 17th-century Portuguese ship Santo Antonio de Tanna, wrecked in October 1697 off the coast at Mombasa, and the excavation by Ralph Pedersen of a 4th– to 7th-century Byzantine shipwreck off the coast of Eritrea at Black Assarca Island.
Australia / New Zealand / Antarctica
INA research associates have studied collections of artifacts from Batavia, Vergulde Draak and Zeewijk, which were recovered during the 1970s the Maritime Archaeology Department of the Western Australia Museum’s full-scale excavations of these three Dutch East India Company or Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (henceforth the VOC or the Company) shipwrecks off the coast of Western Australia.> Read More
In the fall of 2010 INA Researcher Coral Eginton traveled to the Western Australia Museum’s Shipwrecks Gallery in Fremantle in order to analyze these collections. In addition to those artifacts touched upon in the earlier catalogs and attributed to the surgeon’s equipment, new finds were identified and will be addressed in her thesis.
In 2012 Dr. Shelley Wachsmann, Meadows Professor of Biblical Archaeology on the faculty of Texas A&M University’s Nautical Archaeology Program, joined Dr. Jo Anne Van Tilburg (the Cotsen Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles) on Easter Island, a UNESCO World Heritage site off the coast of Chile. > Read More
Surveys have also been ongoing in Brazil. During the 2011 field season in Brazil Rodrigo Torres, together with a small team of archaeologists from the Federal University of Rio Grande in Brazil, traveled approximately 500 km along the shoreline to document wrecksites, and record complementary measurements, images and assess their preservation status. Previously unmapped wreck features were identified and registered into our database. However, the overall preservation of shipwrecks in this province warrants concern. We were unable to relocate one of the already known sites. Observations indicate that it was dismantled by local fishermen or passersby.