Tides of change : historical perspectives on the development of maritime archaeology
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Maritime archaeology, as it is practiced underwater, is a widely misunderstood and controversial sub-discipline of archaeological research. Over the last fifty years this field has struggled to grow out of its professional infancy and it is only now becoming a well-established part of the mainstream. Although it has been stated that "archaeology is archaeology is archaeology," when it comes to maritime research underwater this has not always been the case. One reason for this has been the unique combination of past influences, which have helped to shape it, such as salvage, treasure hunting, sport diving, amateur archaeology, maritime history, cultural resource management, and classical studies. To address some of the problems facing the field today it is clearly beneficial to engage in a process of self-examination and awareness of its past development. This dissertation examines four important issues currently facing the profession of maritime archaeology underwater. These include its public perception, the relationship between sport divers and archaeologists, the professional marginalization of the field, and the conflict between professional salvors and archaeologists. To provide a context for this discussion, a historical overview of the field is presented. Subsidiary topics explored include commercial historic shipwreck salvage, the role of amateur archaeologists and sport divers, professionalism, ethics, the teaching of maritime archaeology in academia, theory, historic preservation legislation and cultural resource management. Information concerning these topics was gathered using an integrated approach of literature review, internet discussion groups, personal interviews and communications, and a formal survey questionnaire. Exploring these areas facilitated a general assessment of the last 40 years of maritime archaeology underwater and the development of proposals for its future. This innovative approach into the history and attitudes of professional underwater archaeologists will hopefully serve as a first step in a new and ongoing process, one which will benefit students, amateurs, and professionals alike.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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