News & Events – Institute of Nautical Archaeology Institute of Nautical Archaeology Sun, 18 Feb 2018 21:37:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 First Look at a Rare Northern Steamboat Wed, 27 Sep 2017 22:03:51 +0000
Heritage steamboat Nenana at Pioneer Park, Fairbanks, Alaska  (J. Pollack 2017)


Research Associate John Pollack has just returned from Alaska where with the assistance of City of Fairbanks staff a hull assessment was conducted of the heritage ship Nenana. The 210’ Nenana was one of the last and largest American-built stern-wheel steamboats to work on the lower Yukon and Tanana Rivers, where it served as a packet carrying up to 52 passengers and towing 6 barges at a time. The standard two-week route was a 1600 mile round trip to Marshall, with the occasional trip above the Arctic Circle to Fort Yukon. Nenana is the only known example of a northern wooden-hulled  sternwheeler designed by naval architect W.C. Wickum in 1932 and built from blueprints. The goal was to create a powerful, minimum draft tow boat suitable for the shallow, lower sections of the Yukon River drainage. The ship has a barge-like hull with standard chine construction, a rectangular cross-section amidships and a broad bow. The blocky hull is visibly less sophisticated than the streamlined Klondike 2 which carried freight cargo on the main deck, and towed only a single barge through the more constricted and meandering sections of the upper Yukon drainage. Another significant difference from Klondike 2, was the use of very few water-tight bulkheads on Nenana.


A snag deflector arc in front of one of the four main rudders (J. Pollack 2017)


Several rare examples of hull architecture and machinery were documented, including novel snag deflector arcs designed to keep debris away from the four main rudders, an uncommon slaved tiller assembly placed just inches above the main deck, and the largest number of large transverse beams yet found in a Yukon River steamer. Nenana also contained the second known example of an internal hog post and chain system installed below the main deck, and used to correct hull weakness (e.g. hogging) in the original design. Additionally, the team discovered a truly unique and baffling framing method at the stern rake (or apron), where an upper set of floors (complete with limber holes) was installed above the centerline and side keelsons, which in turn rests upon the lower floors to which the hull planking is spiked. These elevated floors are not shown in the blueprints, suggesting they were an “on-the-fly” alternation made by the shipwrights when the prefabricated hull was assembled in Nenana, Alaska.


Largest shipwreck at the Golden site


In late September, three additional small stern-wheel steamboat sites were confirmed on the Upper Columbia River between Fairmont and Golden BC, by Danish-Canadian archaeologist Xenius Nielsen and Research Associate John Pollack. The Fairmont site lies a kilometer north of the source of the Columbia River at a point where the river is less than 15 m wide. The Golden sites are 100 km further north (downriver), and plans are being made to document the largest of the three during low water in the spring of 2018. Note the fresh grizzly bear tracks in the mud.


Fairmont site


Grizzly bear footprints adjacent to paddlewheel fitting at a second site in Golden, BC


Eight New Shipwrecks Discovered in Greece’s Fourni Archipelago Mon, 31 Jul 2017 16:21:22 +0000  
Left: An archaeologist systematically photographs a wreck site to create a 3D site plan; Right: High resolution 3D model of a Roman period shipwreck

The 2017 season of the Fourni Underwater Survey in Greece fully documented 14 sites located during previous seasons. While the focus of this season was the thorough documentation of sites located during the 2015-2016 seasons, the survey of shipwrecks in the small archipelago led to the discovery of eight new sites, for a total of 53 shipwrecks located over three seasons.

The fieldwork was conducted during three weeks in June by the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities/Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports in cooperation with RPM Nautical Foundation. The research vessel Hercules conducted seafloor mapping using multibeam sonar and inspected deepwater targets with an ROV, while diver teams conducted photogrammetry, drawings, and recovered key artifacts for further study and scientific analysis. The ROV and divers occasionally worked in tandem to record and recover artifacts from sites. Amphoras from each wreck were raised for conservation, archiving, and 3D modeling, and a few were prepared for DNA and residue analysis, as well as testing a new method of direct dating of ancient ceramics.

The eight new sites span the Classical Period through the 19th century A.D. The majority date to the Late Roman period, but the most significant wrecks include a Classical shipwreck carrying amphoras from Chios and a Roman shipwreck transporting Dressel 28 amphoras from Iberia. The project also found a wide range of anchors dating from the Archaic Period through the Byzantine Period. The finds further illuminate maritime connectivity between the entirety of the Mediterranean and reveal trade and technological changes throughout history.

Read more about the Fourni Underwater Survey.

Left: RPM Nautical Foundation’s scientific research vessel RV Hercules at port in Fourni; Right: Photographing large Pontic amphoras that date to the Roman Period

Left: The chief conservator carefully prepares a Classical Period Chian amphora for the conservation tank; Right: Conservators clean marine growth from amphoras

Photos by Vasilis Mentogianis; 3D model by Kotaro Yamafune

The Ships that Changed History Mon, 15 May 2017 15:59:46 +0000 This symposium brought together four world renowned scholars to give multiple public lectures on four of the most significant and celebrated shipwreck finds of the last half century. Click here to watch videos of the lectures from the Ships that Changed History symposium, held at Texas A&M on April 5-6.

2017 Claude Duthuit Grant Recipient Tue, 07 Feb 2017 15:20:35 +0000  

Nicholas Budsberg: Shipwreck Excavation at Highbourne Cay, Bahamas
The 2017 Claude Duthuit Archaeology grant was awarded to Nicholas Budsberg to excavate what may be the earliest known European ship in the Americas, dated to the beginning of the Age of Exploration (1492-1520). In 1986 INA partially excavated the wreck, which is likely either an Iberian caravel or nao, but modern methods will ensure an improved study of the hull. Read more about the history of INA work at this site on the Highbourne Cay Iberian Shipwreck project page.

INA in the SAS Bulletin Tue, 07 Feb 2017 00:57:06 +0000 INA’s newly constructed Archaeological Research Vessel, Virazon II, has been announced in the Society for Archaeological Sciences Bulletin. Following sea trials this past summer, Virazon II was relocated to her permanent berth in Yalıkavak Marina outside of Bodrum. The vessel will embark on its first Turkish shipwreck survey this fall.

Click here to to read the full article in the SAS Bulletin (Vol. 39 No. 3/4, page 7).

INA’s 2017 Fieldwork & Research Projects Mon, 06 Feb 2017 19:42:26 +0000 In 2017, the Institute of Nautical Archaeology will support more than 20 new and continuing archaeological projects around the globe. Much of this research is driven by the graduate students (both current and former) and faculty members of Texas A&M University’s Nautical Archaeology Program, as well as INA Research Associates. Among the projects which received INA funding or support for 2017 are:

Shipwreck Excavation at Highbourne Cay (Bahamas)
Nicholas Budsberg (Texas A&M University)
The 2017 Claude Duthuit Archaeology grant was awarded for the excavation of what may be the earliest known European ship in the Americas, dated to the beginning of the Age of Exploration (1492-1520). In 1986 INA partially excavated the wreck, which is likely either an Iberian caravel or nao, but modern methods will ensure an improved study of the hull. Read more about the history of INA work at this site: Highbourne Cay Iberian Shipwreck.

Underwater Survey in Fourni (Greece)
Peter Campbell and George Koutsouflakis
This survey made headlines in 2016 when archaeologists discovered 45 shipwrecks after just 33 days of diving. The Fourni Channel is the safest of three north-south sailing routes in the eastern Aegean Sea, resulting in a large volume of traffic passing the archipelago. This year, they will undertake 3D mapping of each site, artifact collection, and multibeam remote sensing. INA is delighted to lend support to this important project! Learn more here: Fourni Underwater Survey.

Burgaz Harbors Research Project (Turkey)
Numan Tuna (Middle East Technical University), Elizabeth S. Greene (Brock University), and Justin Leidwanger (Stanford University) 

Pending permission from the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism, this collaborative initiative with Brock University, Stanford University, and Middle East Technical University will explore the four harbors associated with the Archaic through late antique maritime site of Burgaz on the Datça Peninsula, Turkey. Begun in 2011, the co-directors of this project are conducting an ongoing comprehensive survey and excavation of the four harbors and associated onshore port facilities. Learn more here: Burgaz Harbors Research Project.

Underwater Archaeology of the Roman Site Kaukana (Sicily)
Massimo Capulli (University of Udine)
In the stretch of Italian coast between Punta Braccetto and the seaside village of Casuzze exist several landings and coastal shelters which delineate the Greco-Roman site of Kaukana, which is connected to trade routes between the East, Tripoli, Egypt, Rome, Malta, and Sicily. This sheltered harbor persisted through the Byzantine, Arab, and Norman eras. The aim of the Kaukana Project, born from a partnership between the Department of Humanities and Cultural Heritage of the University of Udine and the Sea Superintendence of Sicily, is to survey the site for underwater cultural heritage and reconstruct Kaukana’s relationship with the rest of the Mediterranean.

Marzamemi Maritime Heritage Project (Sicily)
Justin Leidwanger (Stanford University)

This collaborative excavation, survey, and heritage management initiative focuses on the maritime landscape and seaborne communication off the southeast coast of Sicily (Italy). The concentration of accessible sites here and their location at the intersection of the eastern and western Mediterranean facilitates inquiry into long-term structures of regional and interregional maritime exchange from the early Roman era (3rd/2nd c. BC) through Late Antiquity (6th/7th c. AD). Learn more here: Marzamemi Maritime Heritage Project.

Sutiles Project – an Examination of Roman-era Laced Boats (Italy)
Staci Willis (INA)
The Sutiles Project, a collaboration between the Department of Humanities and Cultural Heritage of the University of Udine and the Superintendency of Archaeology, Fine Arts, and Landscape of Veneto, aims to study the Roman-era laced hull remains of northeastern Italy through the continued examination of the hull remains of laced boats found along the northwestern Adriatic coast (in northeastern Italy) and the associated excavation records of these remains. So far, this research has uncovered a consistent pattern of identifiable construction features and materials usage that distinguish these vessels as a separate tradition of laced boatbuilding in this region during the Roman imperial period.

Archival Research of Venetian Shipwrecks in the Levant (Venice)
Renard Gluzman (Tel-Aviv University)
The principal objective of this project is to make possible the detection and identification of shipwrecks, by matching archaeological finds with evidence found in Venice’s historical records, and to provide new evidence of shipwrecks unknown to underwater archaeologists. As most databases of ancient shipwrecks are primarily based on archaeological finds, this project aims to supplement existing knowledge with written evidence as a tool for archaeologists to incorporate historical data. Since 2015, 535 indications of shipwrecks concerning Cyprus and the Levantine coast have been documented and incorporated into an online database.

Sudjuradj Shipwreck Excavation (Croatia)
José Luis Casabán (Texas A&M University)
This projects aims to complete the excavation, digital recording, and analysis of the hull remains of the San Girolamo, a 16th-century Ragusan shipwreck which sank in 1576 at the entrance of Sudjuradj Bay on the Island of Sipan (Croatia). A preliminary survey and two partial excavations have been carried out since 2014 to document the hull remains of the 25 meter-long ship, which lies at a depth of 27-30 meters. The San Girolamo represents an unique example of the naval technology of the Republic of Ragusa (Dubrovnik) during the Renaissance period. The study of its hull remains will provide a better understanding of Ragusan seafaring during the 16th century, which encompassed the Ottoman and Spanish empires on both sides of the Mediterranean.

Turtles and Maritime Networks of Trade Project (Grand Cayman)
Megan Hagseth (Texas A&M University)
This study seeks to understand the cultural implications of sea turtle consumption during the 17th and 18th centuries, examining faunal assemblages from shipwreck sites, turtle fishing camps, port communities, and others and comparing this data to the historical record.  In particular, the butchery and distribution patterns have the potential to differentiate elite turtle feasting from common consumption. A secondary goal of the project is to better understand the political and cultural events which directly contributed to the over-hunting of sea turtles and the depletion of the population.

Yukon River Steamboat Survey (Canada)
John Pollack (INA)
When the Gold Rush exploded in 1897 A.D., West Coast shipyards responded to the demand, and stern-wheelers were constructed in yards as far south as San Francisco and as far north as Dutch Harbour in the Aleutian Islands. In total, 266 stern- and side-wheeled steamboats operated on the Yukon River in Alaska and Canada. When the boom dissipated in 1900 A.D., many steamship companies either went bankrupt or were bought out by competitors, and vessels were left derelict on shore. As a result, the Yukon now contains one of the greatest intact collections of stern-wheel vessels known to exist. The Yukon River Project, initiated in 2005, aims to document the range of construction techniques used on these late 19th-century vessels. Learn more here: Yukon River Steamboat Survey.

Sea Biscuit & Salted Beef Research Project (Bermuda)
Grace Tsai (Texas A&M University)
Previous attempts to gauge the nutritional value of shipboard diets were based on historical documentation instead of laboratory data. In this project, shipboard food will be replicated using the exact ingredients and methods of preparation from the 17th century. Archaeological and historical data will be used to replicate the salted pork and beef, ship biscuit, wine and beer, and other provisions aboard Warwick, an English race-built galleon that sank in 1619. Then, a trans-Atlantic voyage will be simulated by storing the food in casks and keeping these in a ship’s hull for three months. Learn more here: Sea Biscuit & Salted Beef Research Project.

Ongoing Projects at INA’s Bodrum Research Center
In addition to the above projects, an impressive array of ongoing post-excavation research projects is based out of INA’s Bodrum Research Center in Turkey. Decades of INA surveys in Turkey have uncovered wrecks and cargoes dating from the Bronze Age to the Ottoman Empire. The most significant of these discoveries have rewritten the history books, adding a staggering volume of data to the archaeological record of ancient and medieval seafaring. Students and scholars from around the world work out of the Bodrum Research Center to survey and study the region’s shipwrecks. Annually, over a quarter of a million paying visitors tour the Museum of Underwater Archaeology where they learn about the important discoveries INA has made with its Turkish partners.

Ships of the Theodosian Harbor at Yenikapı (Turkey)

Kızılburun Late Hellenistic Column Wreck (Turkey)

Uluburun Late Bronze Age Shipwreck (Turkey)

Tektaş Burnu Classical Greek Shipwreck (Turkey)

Yassıada Byzantine Shipwreck Excavation (Turkey)

Ertuğrul Ottoman Frigate Excavation (Japan)

ARVVirazon II Completes Maiden Voyage Mon, 05 Dec 2016 15:06:10 +0000 On November 6, 2016 ARV Virazon II, Orkan, Kaptan Zafer and crew arrived safely at her home port, the Yalikavak Marina, just west of Bodrum!  Learn more about Virazon II and the rest of INA’s fleet here.

Virazon II and crew after they arrived in the Yalikavak Marina.

Virazon II and crew after they arrived in the Yalikavak Marina.


Public Lecture: Tracing Cultural Contact Along The Silk Road An Example From Ancient Glass Mon, 14 Nov 2016 20:43:39 +0000 Public lecture by Dr. Julian Henderson, Nottingham University.  Lecture on November 15, 2016 at 5:30 on the TAMU campus at College Station, Anthropology building, room 130.  All are welcome!

Call for 2016 Reports & 2017 Proposals Thu, 03 Nov 2016 15:25:44 +0000 INA is now accepting proposals for projects occurring in 2017. Visit the Project Proposal Page to download the INA Project Proposal form for 2017 projects. The Institute of Nautical Archaeology (INA) is a non-profit organization formed for the purpose of promoting scholarly, ethical research on shipwrecks and maritime sites around the world. INA seeks to assist archaeologists and researchers by providing institutional backing for fundraising activities, loaning equipment, or providing a modest amount of ‘seed money’ to projects.  With the exception of the Claude Duthuit Archaeology Grant, most awards do not exceed $5,000.

Directors of INA-supported projects may be eligible for equipment loan from INA.  Please visit the INA Equipment page to view a list of available items.

INA Takes Possession of ARV Virazon II Mon, 31 Oct 2016 14:48:33 +0000 This week marked an important milestone as papers were signed transferring ownership of ARV (Archaeological Research Vessel) Virazon II to INA’s Turkish company.  Captain Zafer Gül, INA archaeologist Orkan Köyağasıoğlu, and several other crew members are scheduled to leave the shipyard outside of Istanbul next week as Virazon II voyages to her new permanent berth in Palmarina outside of Bodrum.  A huge and heartfelt THANK YOU to all those talented people who worked together to make this dream a reality, but above all to Claude Duthuit, Barbara Duthuit, George Bass, John De Lapa, Orkan Köyağasıoğlu, and all of our friends at Navtek Naval Technologies, especially Orkun Özek and Ferhat Acuner.  Your hard work has blessed INA with a spectacular new tool for shipwreck archaeology.

You can follow the progress of the ship by going to the link below. Please scroll down to the chart, Latest Position, where the black arrow represents the ship and its course. VIRAZON II Marine Traffic position.