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Shipwrecks and Maritime Archaeology -WA-2001

Shipwrecks and Maritime Archaeology -WA-2001

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Shipwrecks and Maritime ArchaeologyAuthor(s): David Gibbins and Jonathan AdamsSource:
World Archaeology,
Vol. 32, No. 3, Shipwrecks (Feb., 2001), pp. 279-291Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.Stable URL:
Accessed: 18/11/2008 14:19
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Shipwrecks
and
maritime
archaeology
David Gibbinsand Jonathan Adams
AbstractShipwrecksre the most numerousanddistinctiveypeof site studiedbymaritimearchaeologists.Theiruniformharacteristics,egardlessfdate,placeandtype,mean thatvirtuallyall wreckscanbeinvestigatedusingsimilarmethodologiesand researchtrategies.The contributionso this issueof WorldArchaeologydemonstrateboththese commonfeaturesand the widevarietyof archaeo-logicaland historical ontextsnwhichwreckdata canbeplaced.Theyalso reflect hetrulyglobalnatureof underwaterrchaeologyas it has evolved over thepastdecade,withmanysites investi-gatedinpreviouslyundevelopedregionsandanattendant ncreasenculturalresourcemanage-ment.Thisperiodhasalso seensignificantdevelopmentsintheory.Adistinctiveagendaisdevelopingwhichemphasizeshe unusualqualityof maritimedataand thepossibilitiesf inductiveanalysis,etseeks toexpandanddiversifyhe contextsnwhichshipsand theirmaterial ultureareviewed;newapproachesavebeenderived romsymbolic,ontextualand criticalarchaeology,ndfromwide-rangingocio-economicmodels.Diversifyinghecontextsinwhich wreck evidenceisinterpretedunderlines ts essentialrichnessand itsuniquecontribution oarchaeology.KeywordsShipwrecks;maritimearchaeology; rchaeologicalheory.IntroductionMaritimearchaeology,thestudyofthematerial remains of humanactivities onthe seasand interconnectedwaterways (afterMuckelroy1978:4),isfundamentallyfocused onshipwrecks.Althoughthedefinitionencompassesmanyothertypesofcontext suchasharbours,submergedlandsurfacesand coastalsettlements,shipwrecksarethemostdistinctive andnumeroustypeof site studiedbymaritimearchaeologists. Globallythenumberof wrecks ofarchaeologicalorhistoricalsignificancethat have beendiscoveredisdifficulttoestimate,butcertainlyruns tothousands. IntheMediterraneanregionaloneParker(1992)catalogued1,189shipwrecksandabandonedhullsdiscovereddatingbefore
AD
1500,afigurewhichshould now beincreasedbyseveralhundred on thebasis of new
o~^ff^V
L
WorldArchaeologyVol.32(3):279-291Shipwrecks
s^"
C)@O?001Taylor& FrancisLtdISSN0043-8243print/1470-1375nline
.,?
......s
DOI:10.1080/00438240120048635
 
280 DavidGibbinsand Jonathan Adams
findsandpublicationsoverthepastdecade. IntheUK,thenumberofsitesdesignatedunder the 1973Protection of WrecksAct,fifty-one,representsbut a smallfractionofwrecksdatingbefore thetwentiethcenturyhat havebeen found(FenwickandGale1998;Martin1998).In otherareas such asthe IndianOcean whereunderwaterrchaeologysstillinitsinfancyherateofdiscoveryslikelytoincreasedramaticallyver the nextfewyears(Rao1988;KuppuramndKumudamani996;Gauret al.1998;Tripati1999;Tripatiet al.1998,thisvolume).Itmaybe that morewrecksremainundiscovered hananyothersitetypeofcompar-ablesignificanceincetheNeolithic.Noothertypeofsiteconsistentlyproducesherangeandqualityof intactartefacts oundnwrecksaswell asrawmaterialsntransit.The four-teenth-centuryBCUluburunwreckoffTurkeyhas shedincomparableighton late BronzeAgetrade(Bass1987;Pulak1998),and itisonlyamatterof time before otherprehistoricwrecks of similarimportanceare discovered.Long agotheMediterraneanSea wasdescribedasthelastgreat repositoryof worksof artfromclassicalantiquity,and futureexplorationshouldproducefinds ofcomparablesignificanceotheclassicalbronzesrecoveredfrom underwaterites atRiace,Artemisionand Mahdia(e.g. HellenkemperSalies1994;Ridgeway1995).Shipsthemselveshave been describedas themostcomplexartefactroutinely produced priorto the IndustrialRevolution,and their crewsandmaterialcultureasuniquemanifestationsfsocietyasawhole.ShipwreckssarchaeologicalontextsAsarchaeologicalssemblages hipwrecksffer anumberof inferentialadvantagesverothertypesofsitewherethe sametypesof artefactare found.A wreckpreservesalargelycontemporaneous roupofmaterialwhich was not intendedfordiscard;he natureofashipasaself-regulating ystemwould have countedagainstthe retentionofsignificantquantitiesof redundant materials.Anoftenunacknowledged ime-depthmayexistthroughsmall butsignificantquantitiesof residualmaterial,butthe bulk of the assem-blagewillusuallybemadeupof functionalequipmentandcargointransit(Adamsthisvolume).Wreckassemblageshave been describedasfine-grained,whereallcharacteristicsreassociatedn adistinctiveway throughhedepositionalvent;heyhaveparticularlyighresolutionandintegrity,he relativehomogeneityrespectivelyof the events or conditionswhosebyproductsrepresentn thedepositandtheagentsresponsibleor thedeposition(Gibbins1990 afterBinford 1981:19-20).These areuniformcharacteristicsfvirtuallyallwrecks,regardlessofdate,placeandtype,and allowwrecksfromwidelydifferingarchaeologicalndhistorical ontextstobe examinedusingsimilarnvestigativemethod-ologiesand researchtrategies.This issueThe ninepapersbroughtogetherhere reflect heglobalnatureofshipwreckrchaeologytoday.In the fields ofstudyfocusedon the maritimepast,theubiquityofshipwreckss a

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