Key Figures

George & Ann Bass

Founders

In 1960, shortly after he began doctoral studies in classical archaeology at the University of Pennsylvania, George Bass was asked by his department chairman if he would learn to dive in order to excavate a Late Bronze Age shipwreck reported off the Turkish coast by journalist Peter Throckmorton. After taking only six diving lessons at a local YMCA, he left for Turkey, where he directed the excavation of the wreck, about a hundred feet deep off Cape Gelidonya.

George and his wife, Ann, were newlyweds when they began the three-month field season on this narrow strip of beach surrounded by cliffs. The site at Cape Gelidonya was the first ancient wreck excavated in its entirety on the seabed, and the first shipwreck excavation directed and published by a diving archaeologist. At the end of the excavation, with permission from the Turkish government, George started a museum of underwater archaeology in the Bodrum castle.

George and Ann formed the American Institute of Nautical Archaeology in 1972, which later dropped the “American” to reflect its international staff and board of directors, becoming simply INA. INA quickly expanded its research to four continents, and in 1976 affiliated with Texas A&M University, where George headed the graduate program in nautical archaeology until 1993. George devoted his career to the development of new techniques for underwater research while excavating shipwrecks around the world, becoming known as the “father of underwater archaeology.”

His was not a solitary journey. Ann accompanied him the whole way, cleaning and cataloging artifacts, taking care of expedition correspondence, and keeping the financial books. When not in the field, Ann taught piano and served as accompanist for instrumentalists and choral groups. Their two sons, Gordon and Alan, spent much of their childhood trotting the globe with their illustrious parents.

George has written or edited ten books and over a hundred articles, and is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Archaeological Institute of America’s Gold Medal for Distinguished Archaeological Achievement (1986), the Explorers Club’s Lowell Thomas Award (1986), the National Geographic Society’s La Gorce Gold Medal (1979) and Centennial Award (1988), the Society for Historical Archaeology’s J.C. Harrington Medal (1999), and the Historical Diving Society’s Pioneer Award (2006). George has received honorary doctorates from Boğaziçi University in Istanbul (1987) and the University of Liverpool (1998), and in 2002 President George W. Bush presented him with the National Medal of Science.

For more about the fascinating life of George Bass, read his memoir Archaeology Beneath the Sea: My Fifty Years of Diving on Ancient Shipwrecks (also available as an eBook on Amazon).

Claude (1931-2011) & Barbara Duthuit

INA Director Claude Duthuit took George Bass on his first open-water dive in 1960, in the Bosphorus, as they prepared to undertake together the first complete excavation of an ancient shipwreck on the seabed, at Cape Gelidonya, Turkey.

INA Director Claude Duthuit took George Bass on his first open-water dive in 1960, in the Bosphorus, as they prepared to undertake together the first complete excavation of an ancient shipwreck on the seabed, at Cape Gelidonya, Turkey. Throughout the 1960s, Claude remained a permanent member of the team that would become INA, serving as chief diver during excavations of two Byzantine shipwrecks at Yassıada. It was then and there that so many of the techniques of underwater excavation, now considered standard, were developed.

His interest in archaeology may have been influenced by his father, Georges Duthuit, noted Byzantine art historian and curator at the Louvre. Educated in art by his mother, Marguerite, daughter of the painter Henri Matisse, Claude dedicated himself to protecting the integrity of his grandfather’s work by compiling unique archives of the artist. Claude joined INA’s Board of Directors in 1976, and was a loyal and generous supporter of INA until his death. The Claude Duthuit Archaeology Grant, awarded annually by the INA Archaeological Committee, was endowed in 2014 by Claude’s wife Barbara.

Cynthia Eiseman

In 1967, Cynthia Jones, a doctoral candidate at the University of Pennsylvania, helped excavate the 4th-century shipwreck at Yassıada, Turkey. In 1969, she sacrificed the excitement of diving and excavating in order to stay in Philadelphia that summer to oversee the purchase of the University Museum’s two-person submersible Asherah.

In 1967, Cynthia Jones, a doctoral candidate at the University of Pennsylvania, helped excavate the 4th-century shipwreck at Yassıada, Turkey. In 1969, she sacrificed the excitement of diving and excavating in order to stay in Philadelphia that summer to oversee the purchase of the University Museum’s two-person submersible Asherah. Representing the University of Pennsylvania in the purchase was Philadelphia attorney James Eiseman, Jr. They must have worked well together, for in 1972 Cynthia and Jim were married!

When INA was formed in 1973, Cynthia agreed to become INA’s first executive director and Jim volunteered to be INA’s first pro bono counsel. As executive director, Cynthia handled INA’s finances, developed its membership, began the AINA Newsletter (now the INA Quarterly), and was on the team that excavated the shipwreck at Şeytan Deresi, Turkey.

In 1970, Cynthia assisted David I. Owen in the excavation of a classical Greek ship in the Straits of Messina, near the Italian village of Porticello, for the University of Pennsylvania Museum and the Geographical Society of Philadelphia. She was asked by Owen to prepare the final excavation report on the Porticello wreck, which served as her doctoral dissertation for the University of Pennsylvania and later, co-authored by sculpture authority and Professor of Classical Archaeology at Bryn Mawr College, Brunilde Sismondo Ridgway, was published in the INA Nautical Archaeology Series by Texas A&M University Press.

Donald A. Frey

When Don Frey volunteered in 1969 to work on the excavation of a 4th-century shipwreck at Yassıada, Turkey, he had no idea that he would one day become president of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology. Up to that point Don’s academic training and experience was as a professor of physics, with no training in archaeology.

When Don Frey volunteered in 1969 to work on the excavation of a 4th-century shipwreck at Yassıada, Turkey, he had no idea that he would one day become president of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology. Up to that point Don’s academic training and experience was as a professor of physics, with no training in archaeology. Don joined the newly formed Institute of Nautical Archaeology in 1975 and in the years following worked with INA at the Italian island of Lipari, at Mombasa in Kenya, at Pedro Shoals in Jamaica, and on all the INA excavations in Turkey, where he still lives, and where he and his Danish wife Suzanne raised their two daughters.

In 1982, Don became INA’s second president. During his six-year tenure INA acquired the land and constructed the first building for its Bodrum Research Center.

His contributions to INA have been many: he has designed measuring and recording equipment for divers to use under water, he directed annual surveys that located many of the 200 ancient shipwrecks in INA files, and he became INA’s principal photographer and videographer. His underwater photographs have been featured in magazines such as National Geographic, Time, L’Express, Aramco World, and Archaeology, and his underwater footage has been featured on television programs in Turkey and the United States.

Donny L. Hamilton

Shortly after INA affiliated with Texas A&M University in 1976 and established a graduate program in nautical archaeology, Donny Hamilton was added to the faculty as a specialist in New World archaeology. He founded the Texas A&M Conservation Research Laboratory (CRL) in 1978—one of the world’s best—and pioneered many of the techniques used in the field today.

Shortly after INA affiliated with Texas A&M University in 1976 and established a graduate program in nautical archaeology, Donny Hamilton was added to the faculty as a specialist in New World archaeology. He founded the Texas A&M Conservation Research Laboratory (CRL) in 1978—one of the world’s best—and pioneered many of the techniques used in the field today. As director of the lab, he has educated generations of nautical archaeologists in the critical field of archaeological conservation.

Like most of INA’s pioneer archaeologists, Donny began as a purely terrestrial archaeologist, at the prehistoric site of Granado Cave near his native Pecos, Texas, which he has published as a book. He directed INA’s decade-long excavation of the sunken city of Port Royal, Jamaica, which doubled as a Texas A&M summer field school, and in 2003, he began a five-year term as president of INA, during which time he co-directed the examination of the deepwater Mardi Gras shipwreck in the Gulf of Mexico. Dr. Hamilton also helped establish the Center for Maritime Archaeology and Conservation (CMAC) at Texas A&M in 2005, serving as its first director. Also in 2005, he began co-directing the excavation of the Late Hellenistic column wreck at Kızılburun, Turkey.

Michael (1939-2001) & Susan Katzev

Michael Katzev, INA’s first vice president, became involved in underwater archaeology when he realized, while studying ancient bronze statues at Columbia, that such sculpture was most often recovered from shipwrecks.

Michael Katzev, INA’s first vice president, became involved in underwater archaeology when he realized, while studying ancient bronze statues at Columbia, that such sculpture was most often recovered from shipwrecks. While assisting in the excavation of a Byzantine shipwreck at Yassıada, Turkey, Katzev met illustrator Susan Womer, who was to become his wife and lifelong collaborator. Together, they designed the air-filled plastic dome, or "underwater telephone booth", that is now used on diving projects globally.

Michael’s exemplary excavation of the shipwreck near Kyrenia, Cyprus in 1968 and 1969, while he was Assistant Professor of Art History and Archaeology at Oberlin College, set a standard for shipwreck archaeology in the Mediterranean. He was the first scholar to see hull remains through conservation and eventual restoration for public display. He supervised construction of a full-scale replica, Kyrenia II, the voyages of which provided new knowledge about the sailing characteristics of ancient merchantmen. Although the finds from the Kyrenia ship have been available to scholars through his preliminary reports, he did not live to see the publication of the multi-authored final work that is being completed by Susan.

Jack Kelley (1930-2015)

Tulsa businessman Jack W. Kelley played a uniquely important role in the development of nautical archaeology into a respected academic discipline. Jack Kelley was the first person to make a substantial financial commitment to the newly incorporated American Institute of Nautical Archaeology (now INA), making the budding institute’s survival possible.

Tulsa businessman Jack W. Kelley played a uniquely important role in the development of nautical archaeology into a respected academic discipline. Jack Kelley was the first person to make a substantial financial commitment to the newly incorporated American Institute of Nautical Archaeology (now INA), making the budding institute’s survival possible. A strong advocate for INA, he not only served on the board of directors, but also found other supporters ensuring INA’s long-term success.

When INA was dislocated from its first home by the civil war on Cyprus, Jack Kelley was part of a three-person committee representing the institute’s legal and academic interests in negotiating terms of affiliation with INA’s new home, Texas A&M University. Jack was also deeply involved in several projects as part of INA’s excavation staffs in Turkey, including the Serçe Limanı excavation. He also produced the documentary on the excavation of the Uluburun shipwreck, and oversaw the composition of the film’s musical background. As INA’s first major donor and continuing champion, Jack Kelley was driving force in bringing INA to where it is today. Jack Kelley passed away in the fall of 2015.

Sheila Matthews

Sheila Matthews was a member of the initial class of nautical archaeology graduate students at Texas A&M University in 1976, and in the summer of 1978 she went to Turkey to join INA’s excavation of the 11th-century “Glass Wreck” at Serçe Limanı.

Sheila Matthews was a member of the initial class of nautical archaeology graduate students at Texas A&M University in 1976, and in the summer of 1978 she went to Turkey to join INA’s excavation of the 11th-century “Glass Wreck” at Serçe Limanı. At the end of the campaign she remained in Turkey for two years to assist Fred van Doorninck in organizing the wreck artifacts, and to begin the study of the hull.

Her tracings of the wooden fragments helped determine both how the ship had been constructed and how it disintegrated. After completing her M.A. thesis on the rigging of the Serçe Limanı ship in 1983, she immediately joined INA’s permanent staff in Bodrum, Turkey, where she reassembled the Serçe Limanı hull for display at the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology. She also organized the study and publication of the glass vessels that were being mended from about a million shards by the INA conservation staff. She is a senior co-author of both volumes on the Serçe Limanı shipwreck.

Sheila dived on almost every INA survey off the Turkish coast, and took part in the excavations of Late Roman and Ottoman shipwrecks at Yassıada, as well as the Bronze Age shipwreck at Uluburun. From 1995 to 1998 she served as the assistant director of the excavation of a 9th-century Byzantine wreck near Bozburun. In 2000, she became the INA’s mapping expert, almost single-handedly producing accurate, three-dimensional plans of the 5th-century B.C. Tektaş Burnu wreck, the 6th-century B.C. Archaic Greek wreck at Pabuç Burnu, and the 1st-century B.C. wreck at Kızılburun. In the years before retiring from her post as INA Archaeologist in 2012, Sheila worked year-round on INA projects, working in Istanbul on the research and recovery of the Yenikapı shipwrecks, and spending her summers at Kızılburun. She now serves as an INA Director, assisting with outreach.

Robin C. Piercy

England native Robin Piercy caught the underwater archaeology bug in 1966 while testing new underwater survey tools in the south of France with a group from the University of London.

England native Robin Piercy caught the underwater archaeology bug in 1966 while testing new underwater survey tools in the south of France with a group from the University of London. The following year in Italy he organized a survey season in the Garigliano River for John Huston’s newly founded Council of Underwater Archaeology, and assisted Peter Throckmorton with the excavation of a Roman marble carrier at Torre Sgarrata, in Italy’s Gulf of Taranto.

In 1969 he served as assistant director of the team that excavated and restored the Kyrenia shipwreck, and in 1970 also served as assistant director of David Owen’s excavation of a Classical Greek shipwreck near Porticello, Italy. In early 1975, INA added Robin to its small staff, and he moved to Turkey, where he has lived ever since.

Soon after, Robin traveled to Mombasa, Kenya to inspect a shipwreck on behalf of INA. This led to a full-scale excavation from 1977 to 1980, directed by Robin for INA and the National Museums of Kenya. He was able to identify the wreck 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. Back in Turkey, Robin dived with INA survey teams and served as technical director of INA excavations at Şeytan 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.

J. Richard “Dick” Steffy (1924-2007)

Dick Steffy was a self-taught scholar who began his career as an electrical contractor and ship model hobbyist, and retired a full professor and MacArthur Fellow.

Dick Steffy was a self-taught scholar who began his career as an electrical contractor and ship model hobbyist, and retired a full professor and MacArthur Fellow. After reading George Bass’s 1963 article in National Geographic on a 7th-century Byzantine shipwreck off Turkey, Dick Steffy reached out, hoping to build a model of the ship. At the time, Fred van Doorninck was writing his doctoral dissertation on a reconstruction of the Byzantine ship based on its seabed fragments. Thus began a productive collaboration that lasted until Dick’s death.

In the summer of 1971, Dick was given the opportunity to work with actual remains, those of a classical Greek hull raised from the sea off the coast of Kyrenia, Cyprus by Michael and Susan Katzev. He soon decided to give up his business to become a professional ancient ship reconstructor. According to George Bass, Dick’s courage to follow his passion served as the catalyst that finally pushed him and Fred to establish the private institute devoted to shipwreck archaeology that they had talked about on occasion. The Institute of Nautical Archaeology (INA) was incorporated in 1972.

When INA partnered with Texas A&M University, Dick was hired as a faculty member without so much as a bachelor’s degree. Students at Texas A&M hone their drafting skills in the J. Richard Steffy Ship Reconstruction Laboratory, where Mr. Steffy helped train the next generation of nautical archaeologists. His legacy includes publications of the Yassıada, Serçe Limanı, and Kyrenia hulls, and his 1994 Wooden Ship Building and the Interpretation of Shipwrecks. Dick was such an excellent speaker that after his death, the Archaeological Institute of America established the J. Richard Steffy Lectureship in his honor. For more about the inspiring life of J. Richard Steffy, read The Man Who Thought Like a Ship, written by his son and biographer Loren Steffy.

Peter Throckmorton (1928-1990)

Peter Throckmorton made an enormous impact on our field of nautical archaeology. In many ways he invented it. Pioneer divers in Italy, France, Mexico, Jamaica, and especially the United States were experimenting with scuba equipment as a tool for underwater archaeology.

Peter Throckmorton made an enormous impact on our field of nautical archaeology. In many ways he invented it. Pioneer divers in Italy, France, Mexico, Jamaica, and especially the United States were experimenting with scuba equipment as a tool for underwater archaeology. But it was Peter who made the next, enormous jump when he approached the University of Pennsylvania Museum in 1959 with the news that he had found a Bronze Age shipwreck at Cape Gelidonya, Turkey, and the desire to see it excavated in its entirety to the same standards as were normal on land excavations.

Peter came to an institute of archaeologists for help, not to a diving club or a navy. He was a professional photojournalist when he lived for two summers with Bodrum sponge divers to locate ancient shipwrecks, but he had taken courses in archaeology and had spent time on a dry-land excavation.

George Bass, as representative of the University Museum, was appointed director of the ensuing excavation, but it was Peter who organized the excavation and put together the team. After Cape Gelidonya, Peter moved on to improve underwater archaeology in Israel, Italy, and Greece. It was he who spotted the rotting hulk of the Elissa in Greece, and paid for her with his own money until he could find a maritime history organization to restore her; today she is the pride of Galveston, but few visitors have any idea of Peter’s role in bringing her to Texas. Readers can learn more about Peter’s pioneering role in nautical archaeology by reading his The Lost Ships (1964) and Shipwrecks and Archaeology (1970), and his National Geographic articles in May 1960, May 1962, and February 1969, all personal accounts. He edited The Sea Remembers: Shipwrecks and Archaeology in 1987.

Fred Van Doorninck, JR.

Fresh out of the army, and with a degree from Princeton in Near Eastern Studies, Fred van Doorninck began his studies at the University of Pennsylvania in 1960. The following summer he worked with George Bass on the excavation of a 7th-century Byzantine shipwreck at Yassıada, Turkey.

Fresh out of the army, and with a degree from Princeton in Near Eastern Studies, Fred van Doorninck began his studies at the University of Pennsylvania in 1960. The following summer he worked with George Bass on the excavation of a 7th-century Byzantine shipwreck at Yassıada, Turkey. Had that not happened, the field of nautical archaeology would not be where it is today, for we would not have the revolutionary contributions Fred has since made to the study of ancient hulls, ballast, anchors, amphoras, and warship rams.

When INA affiliated with Texas A&M University in 1976, Fred left his teaching position in classics at the University of California, Davis, to become one of the original faculty members of Texas A&M’s new Nautical Archaeology Program.

Trying to understand how an ancient, wrecked ship was built, Fred was working in a vacuum. No one before had known how the change from shell-first to frame-first ship construction took place (with its major technological, economic, and historical implications), or even how to look for it. Thus, Fred spent years gathering necessary measurements and other data for the successful study that led to his understanding the change. This is now a major research concern – all begun by Fred, the first person ever to restore on paper the hull of an ancient Mediterranean shipwreck from its fragmentary seabed remains. He spent the equivalent of a year of ten-hour days working on the anchors from the Byzantine ship, using an extremely complex process of restoring them to the condition in which they could be studied. Fred was the first to study in detail evidence for the re-use of amphoras as transport jars. This is no minor accomplishment, the amphora being one of the most common artifacts of antiquity. Fred’s current passion is the new study of Byzantine amphoras capacities. In 2007, an international conference was organized at Texas A&M to celebrate the quarter-century anniversary of the publication of the Byzantine wreck. The resultant papers, including two written by Fred, were collected in an edited volume and are forthcoming from Texas A&M University Press.

Robert “Chip” Vincent, JR. (1945-2007)

Chip was studying for a career in law when he joined the team, led by Michael Katzev, excavating the Greek shipwreck off Kyrenia, Cyprus in 1968. When a Cypriot torpedo boat hit and swamped the excavation barge, Chip’s expertise in international sea law won a settlement for the dig from the Cypriot government.

Chip was studying for a career in law when he joined the team, led by Michael Katzev, excavating the Greek shipwreck off Kyrenia, Cyprus in 1968. When a Cypriot torpedo boat hit and swamped the excavation barge, Chip’s expertise in international sea law won a settlement for the dig from the Cypriot government. After passing the bar in Massachusetts, Chip quit law, and spent seven years on Cyprus with the tight-knit preservation team that helped Dick Steffy reassemble the Kyrenia ship’s hull. There he met his British Kenya-born bride, Frances Bevan. From 1988 to 1994 Chip served as INA’s president.

Chip had already done extraordinary photography in Afghanistan’s Baluchistan during a seven-year Smithsonian survey just before the Russian invasion. In what locals call the “desert of death and hell” he discovered a Zoroastrian fire temple now known as “Quala Vincent”. He went on to participate in over 30 other field seasons in England, Israel, Kenya, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and Greece. For 15 years as project director and cultural heritage manager for the American Research Center, he raised and administered funds to preserve antiquities in Egypt. Chip promoted more than 50 different projects encompassing everything from pre-pharaonic monuments to 18th-century Cairo neighborhoods. A description of these achievements can be found in the handsome volume Preserving Egypt’s Cultural Heritage (2010).