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The Battle for the Mediterranean: Digitally Recording an Underwater Roman Battlefield

Several kilometers off the Sicilian coast, in over 100 meters of water lies an underwater battlefield that stands testament to one Age replacing another. Using the latest technology and scientific methods from Archaeology, Engineering, and the National Oceanographic Centre at the University of Southampton, these ancient warships are being reverse engineered in order to understand one history's most critical junctures: the slow decline of the Hellenistic Period and the start of the Roman Period. Continue reading →

Illyrian Coast Field School: Montenegro’s Underwater Caves, Submerged Cities, and Shipwrecks

The Illyrian Coastal Exploration Program (ICEP) underwater sciences field school traveled from Croatia (the topic of my previous blog post) to the Regional Center for Underwater Demining (RCUD). The RCUD is the top commercial diving and training facility in Montenegro. Students explored the rich maritime cultural heritage around Kotor Bay, including an underwater cave, submerged portions of an ancient city, and of course shipwrecks. Continue reading →

Illyrian Coast Field School: Shipwrecks of Croatia

The Illyrian Coastal Exploration Program (ICEP) is an interdisciplinary underwater sciences field school exploring the eastern Adriatic coastline through archaeology, ecology, and geology. The field school partners with leading research centers in each Balkan country such as the International Centre for Underwater Archaeology in Croatia (ICUA) and the Regional Center for Underwater De-Mining in Bijela (RCUD), Montenegro, as well as RPM Nautical Foundation. Continue reading →

How Crime, Corruption, and Murder Are Hidden in the Elusive Black Market Stages of Antiquities Trafficking

There is an on going debate among scholars studying antiquities trafficking — illegally removing cultural artefacts from one country and smuggling it to another for sale — as to the level of organized crime involvement. In a recent article in the International Journal of Cultural Property I try to crack this debate wide open through the use of explicit examples of crime within the trade. I argue that the trade does not operate as a hierarchy like traditional organized crime does. Continue reading →

Testing a Prototype 3D Structure Light Imaging System for Underwater Archaeology

Anchor Scanning While 3D imaging has become a revolution in land archaeology, it has experienced a difficult baptism underwater. Electrical equipment and water do not mix, plus many systems do not easily transfer underwater when you add currents, visibility issues, and salt into the equation. Approaches that have been attempted include acoustics, laser-based systems, and photogrammetry with each of these having varying success depending on site conditions. Continue reading →

Digitally Recording A 3rd Century BC Underwater Battlefield

One of the most exciting archaeological discoveries of the last decade has been an ancient naval battlefield off the Egadi Islands in Italy. Located in over 100 metres depth and requiring robots to survey and record the artefacts, the site dates to the decisive climax of the First Punic War between Rome and Carthage in 241 BC. Previously, only two waterline warship rams had ever been discovered, but ten have been found at the battle site together with thousands of other artefacts. Continue reading →