Anna Marguerite McCann

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Anna Marguerite McCann

Anna McCann at Populonia 1974.jpg

At Populonia (Tuscany, Italy) in 1974
Born(1933-05-11)May 11, 1933
Mamaroneck, New York
Died February 12, 2017(2017-02-12) (aged 83)
Sleepy Hollow, New York [1]
Nationality American
Occupation Underwater archaeologist, art historian
Known for
  • Developing underwater archaeology as a field
  • First female American underwater archaeologist
Notable work
  • The Portraits of Septimius Severus, A.D. 193–211 (1968)
  • The Roman Port and Fishery of Cosa: A Center of Ancient Trade (1987)
  • Archaeology of deep-water shipwrecks (see below)

Anna Marguerite McCann (May 11, 1933 – February 12, 2017) was an American art historian and archaeologist. She is known for being an early influencer—and the first American woman—in the field of underwater archaeology, beginning in the 1960s. McCann authored works pertaining to Roman art and Classical archaeology, and taught both art history and archaeology at various universities in the United States. McCann was an active member of the Archaeological Institute of America, and received its Gold Medal Award in 1998. She also published under the name Anna McCann Taggart. [2]

Art history the academic study of objects of art in their historical development

Art history is the study of objects of art in their historical development and stylistic contexts; that is genre, design, format, and style. The study includes painting, sculpture, architecture, ceramics, furniture, and other decorative objects.

Archaeology, or archeology, is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. The archaeological record consists of artifacts, architecture, biofacts or ecofacts and cultural landscapes. Archaeology can be considered both a social science and a branch of the humanities. In North America archaeology is a sub-field of anthropology, while in Europe it is often viewed as either a discipline in its own right or a sub-field of other disciplines.

Underwater archaeology Archaeological techniques practiced at underwater sites

Underwater archaeology is archaeology practiced underwater. As with all other branches of archaeology, it evolved from its roots in pre-history and in the classical era to include sites from the historical and industrial eras. Its acceptance has been a relatively late development due to the difficulties of accessing and working underwater sites, and because the application of archaeology to underwater sites initially emerged from the skills and tools developed by shipwreck salvagers. As a result, underwater archaeology initially struggled to establish itself as bona fide archaeological research. The situation changed when universities began teaching the subject and when a theoretical and practical base for the sub-discipline was firmly established. Underwater archaeology now has a number of branches including, after it became broadly accepted in the late 1980s, maritime archaeology: the scientifically based study of past human life, behaviours and cultures and their activities in, on, around and (lately) under the sea, estuaries and rivers. This is most often effected using the physical remains found in, around or under salt or fresh water or buried beneath water-logged sediment. In recent years, the study of submerged WWII sites and of submerged aircraft in the form of underwater aviation archaeology have also emerged as bona fide activity.



McCann attended the Rye Country Day School in Rye, New York. In 1954, she completed a Bachelor of Arts in art history, and a minor in Classical Greek, at Wellesley College. She received a Fulbright Scholarship to attend the American School of Classical Studies at Athens for a year prior to beginning her studies toward a Master of Arts degree at New York University's Institute of Fine Arts. In 1957, she completed the M.A. with her thesis "Greek Statuary Types in Roman Historical Reliefs", marking the beginning of her interest in Roman sculpture and Classical archaeology. [3]

Rye Country Day School

Rye Country Day School, also known as Rye Country Day or RCDS, is an independent, co-educational college preparatory school located in Rye, New York. Its Upper School, Middle School (5–8), and Lower School (Pre-Kindergarten-4) enroll a total of 886 students on its 26-acre campus. Rye Country Day attracts students from over 40 school districts in the tri-state area. Rye Country Day School is actively committed to diversity and inclusion. The School's $5.6 million financial aid budget provides significant tuition grants to the families of 143 students (16%) in the school. 31% of RCDS students self-identify as people of color. The School is known for excellent academics, providing opportunities for a well-rounded education, a strong commitment to service learning, and its college placement record.

Classical Greece Period in Greek culture lasting from the 5th through 4th centuries BC

Classical Greece was a period of around 200 years in Greek culture. This Classical period saw the annexation of much of modern-day Greece by the Persian Empire and its subsequent independence. Classical Greece had a powerful influence on the Roman Empire and on the foundations of Western civilization. Much of modern Western politics, artistic thought, scientific thought, theatre, literature, and philosophy derives from this period of Greek history. In the context of the art, architecture, and culture of Ancient Greece, the Classical period corresponds to most of the 5th and 4th centuries BC. The Classical period in this sense follows the Greek Dark Ages and Archaic period and is in turn succeeded by the Hellenistic period.

Wellesley College Private womens liberal arts college in Massachusetts

Wellesley College is a private women's liberal arts college in Wellesley, Massachusetts. Founded in 1870 by Henry and Pauline Durant, it is a member of the original Seven Sisters Colleges. Wellesley is home to 56 departmental and interdepartmental majors spanning the liberal arts, as well as over 150 student clubs and organizations. The college also allows its students to cross-register at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Brandeis University, Babson College and Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering. Wellesley athletes compete in the NCAA Division III New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference.

In 1965, McCann obtained a Ph.D. from Indiana University in both art history and classics. Between 1964 and 1966, she was a Rome Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Rome for Classical studies & archaeology. [3] [4]

Indiana University university system, Indiana, U.S.

Indiana University (IU) is a multi-campus public university system in the state of Indiana, United States. Indiana University has a combined student body of more than 110,000 students, which includes approximately 46,000 students enrolled at the Indiana University Bloomington campus.

Rome Prize American award for emerging artists and scholars

The Rome Prize is awarded by the American Academy in Rome, in Rome, Italy. Approximately thirty scholars and artists are selected each year to receive a study fellowship at the academy. Prizes have been awarded annually since 1921, with a hiatus during the [World War II]] years, from 1942 to 1949.

American Academy in Rome Research center , Arts institution in New York City, United States

The American Academy in Rome is a research and arts institution located on the Gianicolo in Rome. The academy is a member of the Council of American Overseas Research Centers.


McCann began scuba diving in the early 1960s with Jacques Cousteau, exploring ancient Roman shipwrecks near Marseille. At the time, underwater archaeology was a new discipline and was "largely dominated by men." [5] Between 1961 and 1962, she excavated the 7th-century Yassi Ada shipwreck (in Bodrum, Turkey) with the National Geographic Society and University of Pennsylvania. [5] While at the American Academy in Rome she expanded her Master's thesis into The Portraits of Septimius Severus, A.D. 193–211. In 2017, this was still "the major scholarly work on the portraiture of that emperor" [3] according to her colleagues. Following her time in Rome, McCann taught at the University of Missouri from 1966 to 1971, and the University of California, Berkeley from 1971 to 1974. [6]

Scuba diving Diving while breathing from self-contained underwater breathing apparatus

Scuba diving is a mode of underwater diving where the diver uses a self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (scuba), which is completely independent of surface supply, to breathe underwater. Scuba divers carry their own source of breathing gas, usually compressed air, allowing them greater independence and freedom of movement than surface-supplied divers, and longer underwater endurance than breath-hold divers. Open circuit scuba systems discharge the breathing gas into the environment as it is exhaled, and consist of one or more diving cylinders containing breathing gas at high pressure which is supplied to the diver through a regulator. They may include additional cylinders for range extension, decompression gas or emergency breathing gas. Closed-circuit or semi-closed circuit rebreather scuba systems allow recycling of exhaled gases. The volume of gas used is reduced compared to that of open circuit, so a smaller cylinder or cylinders may be used for an equivalent dive duration. Rebreathers extend the time spent underwater compared to open circuit for the same gas consumption; they produce fewer bubbles and less noise than open circuit scuba which makes them attractive to covert military divers to avoid detection, scientific divers to avoid disturbing marine animals, and media divers to avoid bubble interference.

Jacques Cousteau French inventor of open circuit scuba, pioneer diver, author, film-maker and marine researcher

Jacques-Yves Cousteau was a French naval officer, explorer, conservationist, filmmaker, innovator, scientist, photographer, author and researcher who studied the sea and all forms of life in water. He co-developed the Aqua-lung, pioneered marine conservation and was a member of the Académie française.

Marseille Second-largest city of France and prefecture of Provence-Alpes-Côte dAzur

Marseille is the second-largest city of France. The main city of the historical province of Provence, it nowadays is the prefecture of the department of Bouches-du-Rhône and region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur. It is located on France's south coast near the mouth of the Rhône river. The city covers an area of 241 km2 (93 sq mi) and had a population of 852,516 in 2012. Its metropolitan area, which extends over 3,173 km2 (1,225 sq mi) is the third-largest in France after Paris and Lyon, with a population of 1,831,500 as of 2010.

She was an active member of an international learned society that specializes in Roman pottery, which she became interested in as a result of her archaeological research underwater. [7] In 1974, McCann joined the curatorial staff of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and led a lecture program related to archaeology. She published her research on Roman sculpture while at the museum in Roman Sarcophagi in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which won the Outstanding Book Award from the Association of American University Presses and was recognized as an Outstanding Art Book by the Thomas J. Watson Library in 1978. [6] McCann conducted excavations of Cosa (a Latin colony in Tuscany) between 1965 and 1987 that resulted in the 1987 collaborative work The Roman Port and Fishery of Cosa: A Center of Ancient Trade. This also received the Association of American University Presses' Outstanding Book Award, and the 1989 James R. Wiseman Book Award from the Archaeological Institute of America. [5]

A learned society is an organisation that exists to promote an academic discipline, profession, or a group of related disciplines such as the arts. Membership may be open to all, may require possession of some qualification, or may be an honour conferred by election.

Metropolitan Museum of Art Art museum in New York City, New York

The Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York City, colloquially "the Met", is the largest art museum in the United States. With 7.3 million visitors to its three locations in 2016, it was the fourth most visited art museum in the world, and the fifth most visited museum of any kind. Its permanent collection contains over two million works, divided among seventeen curatorial departments. The main building, on the eastern edge of Central Park along Museum Mile in Manhattan 's Upper East Side is by area one of the world's largest art galleries. A much smaller second location, The Cloisters at Fort Tryon Park in Upper Manhattan, contains an extensive collection of art, architecture, and artifacts from Medieval Europe. On March 18, 2016, the museum opened the Met Breuer museum at Madison Avenue on the Upper East Side; it extends the museum's modern and contemporary art program.

The Association of University Presses (AUPresses) is an association of mostly, but not exclusively, North American university presses. It is based in New York City. Until December 2017, it was known as the Association of American University Presses (AAUP).

A member of the Archaeological Institute of America's Board of Trustees, McCann founded its Committee for Underwater Archaeology in 1985. In 1989 she became the archaeological director of the JASON Project, collaborating with oceanographer Robert Ballard in surveying multiple shipwrecks of the Skerki Bank (in the Strait of Sicily) to inspire students within the project. [6] This resulted in a publication in 1994 that is believed to be the first to detail archaeological research conducted in deep waters. [8] McCann and Ballard discovered more shipwrecks when they returned to Skerki Bank in 1997. [6]

Board of directors body overseeing an organization

A board of directors is a group of people who jointly supervise the activities of an organization, which can be either a for-profit business, nonprofit organization, or a government agency. Such a board's powers, duties, and responsibilities are determined by government regulations and the organization's own constitution and bylaws. These authorities may specify the number of members of the board, how they are to be chosen, and how often they are to meet.

The JASON Project is a US middle school science curriculum program that is designed to motivate and inspire students to pursue interests and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Strait of Sicily The strait between Sicily and Tunisia

The Strait of Sicily is the strait between Sicily and Tunisia. The strait is about 145 kilometres (90 mi) wide and divides the Tyrrhenian Sea and the western Mediterranean Sea, from the eastern Mediterranean Sea. The maximum depth is 316 meters (1,037 ft).

McCann was awarded the Archaeological Institute of America's Gold Medal Award in 1998 [9] and presented with a Festschrift at the ceremony. [3] She taught at Boston University from 1997 to 2001 and was a visiting scholar at Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 2001 to 2007. [6]

Personal life

McCann married childhood friend Robert Dorsett [10] Taggart (d. 2016) in 1973. They lived in New York City but also spent time at their farm in Pawlet, Vermont. In 1985, McCann and Taggart established a lectureship in underwater archaeology. [3] McCann presented her research through many venues—including a children's book that she contributed to and a general guide to some of her research—as a result of her "interest in the broad dissemination of archaeological information". [6]

Selected works

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  1. "Society of Fellows Obituaries: Anna Marguerite McCann, FAAR 1966". American Academy in Rome. Retrieved October 29, 2017.
  2. McCann 1978, p. 4.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Oleson & Pollini 2017, p. 685.
  4. "Directory by Year Index". Society of Fellows of the American Academy in Rome. Archived from the original on July 19, 2008. Retrieved October 26, 2017.
  5. 1 2 3 Oleson & Pollini 2017, p. 686.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Oleson & Pollini 2017, p. 687.
  7. "Obituaries – Anna Marguerite McCann (11.05.1933 – 12.02.2017)". Rei Cretariae Romanae Fautores. Retrieved October 29, 2017.
  8. Bispham, Harrison & Sparkes 2006, p. 145: "the first academic account of deep-water archaeology."
  9. "Anna Marguerite McCann Emmett L. Bennett, Jr.—1998 Gold Medal Award for Distinguished Archaeological Achievement". Archaeological Institute of America. Retrieved October 29, 2017.
  10. McCann 1978, p. 5.