Institute of Nautical Archaeology

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The Institute of Nautical Archaeology (INA) is the world's oldest organization devoted to the study of humanity's interaction with the sea through the practice of archaeology.

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.



INA's founder Dr. George Bass pioneered the science of underwater excavation in the 1960s through work at Cape Gelidonya and other ancient shipwreck sites off the coast of Turkey. Since then, INA has expanded its scope and activities to work globally on shipwrecks and submerged sites and worked with Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas to establish the Nautical Archaeology Program there. Hundreds of archaeologists have received their training at Texas A&M and today, after more than three decades of the Nautical Archaeology Program's existence, many of the world's leading scholars have received their degrees from Texas A&M.

Cape Gelidonya

Cape Gelidonya, formerly Kilidonia or Killidonia is a cape or headland on the Teke Peninsula in the chain of Taurus Mountains, located on the southern coast of Anatolia between the Gulf of Antalya and the Bay of Finike.

Texas A&M University Public research university in College Station, Texas, United States

Texas A&M University is a public research university founded in 1876 and located in College Station, Texas. In 1948, Texas A&M University became the founding member of the Texas A&M University System. As of 2017, Texas A&M's student body is the largest in Texas and one of the largest in the United States. Texas A&M's designation as a land, sea, and space grant institution–the only university in Texas to hold all three designations–reflects a range of research with ongoing projects funded by organizations such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Office of Naval Research. In 2001, Texas A&M was inducted as a member of the Association of American Universities. The school's students, alumni—over 450,000 strong—and sports teams are known as Aggies. The Texas A&M Aggies athletes compete in 18 varsity sports as a member of the Southeastern Conference.

College Station, Texas City in Texas, United States

College Station is a city in Brazos County, Texas, situated in East-Central Texas in the heart of the Brazos Valley, in the center of the region known as Texas Triangle. It is 90 miles northwest of Houston and 87 miles (140 km) northeast of Austin. As of the 2010 census, College Station had a population of 93,857, which had increased to an estimated population of 116,218 as of 2018. College Station and Bryan together make up the Bryan-College Station metropolitan area, the 13th-largest metropolitan area in Texas with 273,101 people as of 2019.

INA is a not-for-profit group founded in 1973. Today it has members all over the world, and counts among them professional archaeologists, students, and many others from all walks of life.


INA's members are interested in seeking out lost ships, and applying the highest standards of science and art to excavating and studying them to unlock their secrets. They do so to add to humanity's understanding of seafaring's role in the development of civilization. Three-quarters of the earth is covered by water, and in the fabric of human history, the most pervasive thread is our association with the planet's oceans, rivers and lakes.

The Institute of Nautical Archaeology works for the public to share what nautical archaeologists do, with anyone with an interest. INA is also committed to the preservation of the world's shipwrecks and other archaeological sites, but specifically to finding the most significant sites and excavating them to unlock their secrets.

INA's professional and volunteer members and affiliates have conducted fieldwork in Africa, Asia, Australia, the Americas, and Europe. They have worked on the world's oldest known shipwrecks, and on wrecks as recent as World War II. Their work has improved the understanding of ancient trade in the Mediterranean, the development of the ship, shipbuilding in the Ancient World, the saga of European expansion into the New World, and wars for the control of the Americas.

World War II 1939–1945, between Axis and Allies

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from more than 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 70 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Mediterranean Sea Sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean between Europe, Africa and Asia

The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Southern Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa and on the east by the Levant. Although the sea is sometimes considered a part of the Atlantic Ocean, it is usually referred to as a separate body of water. Geological evidence indicates that around 5.9 million years ago, the Mediterranean was cut off from the Atlantic and was partly or completely desiccated over a period of some 600,000 years before being refilled by the Zanclean flood about 5.3 million years ago.

Selected projects

Easter Island Place in Valparaíso, Chile

Easter Island is an island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, at the southeasternmost point of the Polynesian Triangle in Oceania. Easter Island is most famous for its nearly 1,000 extant monumental statues, called moai, created by the early Rapa Nui people. In 1995, UNESCO named Easter Island a World Heritage Site, with much of the island protected within Rapa Nui National Park.

Klondike Gold Rush 1890s migration

The Klondike Gold Rush was a migration by an estimated 100,000 prospectors to the Klondike region of the Yukon, in north-western Canada, between 1896 and 1899. Gold was discovered there by local miners on August 16, 1896, and, when news reached Seattle and San Francisco the following year, it triggered a stampede of prospectors. Some became wealthy, but the majority went in vain. It has been immortalized in popular culture, e.g., in artifacts, films, games, literature, and photographs.

National Geographic Society American non-profit scientific and educational institution

The National Geographic Society (NGS), headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States, is one of the largest non-profit scientific and educational organizations in the world. Founded in 1888, its interests include geography, archaeology, and natural science, the promotion of environmental and historical conservation, and the study of world culture and history. The National Geographic Society's logo is a yellow portrait frame—rectangular in shape—which appears on the margins surrounding the front covers of its magazines and as its television channel logo. Through National Geographic Partners, the Society operates the magazine, TV channels, a website, worldwide events, and other media operations.

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Maritime archaeology archaeological study of human interaction with the sea

Maritime archaeology is a discipline within archaeology as a whole that specifically studies human interaction with the sea, lakes and rivers through the study of associated physical remains, be they vessels, shore-side facilities, port-related structures, cargoes, human remains and submerged landscapes. A specialty within maritime archaeology is nautical archaeology, which studies ship construction and use.

Uluburun shipwreck late Bronze Age shipwreck

The Uluburun Shipwreck is a Late Bronze Age shipwreck dated to the late 14th century BC, discovered close to the east shore of Uluburun, and about 6 miles (9.7 km) miles southeast of Kaş, in south-western Turkey. The shipwreck was discovered in the summer of 1982 by Mehmed Çakir, a local sponge diver from Yalıkavak, a village near Bodrum.

Kyrenia ship

The Kyrenia ship is the wreck of a 4th-century BC Greek merchant ship. It was discovered by Greek-Cypriot diving instructor Andreas Cariolou in November 1965 during a storm. Having lost the exact position Cariolou carried out more than 200 dives until he re-discovered the wreck in 1967 with the help of James Husband close to Kyrenia in Cyprus. Michael Katzev, a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, directed a salvage expedition from 1967-69. Preservation of the ship's timbers continued during the winter of 1970. Katzev later was a co-founder of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology. The find was extensively covered in a documentary by the BBC. The ship was considered to be very well preserved with approximately 75% of it in good condition. It found a new home at the Ancient Shipwreck Museum in Kyrenia Castle, where it remains on exhibit.

Nautical Archaeology Society British organisation to further research in nautical archaeology for the public benefit

The Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS) is a charity registered in England and Wales and in Scotland and is a company limited by guarantee.

David Gibbins, FRSA, FRGS is an underwater archaeologist and a bestselling novelist.

James Preston Delgado, Ph.D. is a maritime archaeologist, historian, maritime preservation expert, author, television host, and explorer.

Keith Muckelroy (1951-1980) was a pioneer of maritime archaeology. Instead of the traditional particularist or historiographic approach used by maritime archaeologists, Muckelroy's ideas were new to the field, influenced by the prehistoric and analytical archaeology he learned under Grahame Clark and David Clarke at Cambridge, the tenets of processual archaeology gaining traction in the U.S., and his own experiences on shipwreck sites in British waters, notably the 1664 Dutch East Indiaman Kennemerland, several Spanish Armada wrecks, and the Mary Rose.

Mensun Bound British marine archaeologist

Mensun Bound is a British maritime archaeologist. Born in Port Stanley, Falkland Islands. A fifth generation Islander whose great great grandfather arrived with the first colonists in the 1840s. He is best known for directing the excavation of the Etruscan 6th century BC shipwreck off Giglio Island, Italy, the oldest known shipwreck of the Archaic era, and the Hoi An Cargo which revolutionized understanding of Vietnam’s art-historical Golden Age.

George Fletcher Bass is recognized as one of the early practitioners of underwater archaeology, along with Peter Throckmorton, Honor Frost, and others.

The Black Assarca shipwreck was first discovered by tourists in 1995, at Black Assarca Island, Eritrea. The wreck was surveyed in 1995 and partially excavated in 1997 by the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, under the auspices of the Ministry of Marine Resources of Eritrea.

Michael Alexander Arbuthnot is an archaeologist, instructor and archaeological filmmaker.

The Center for Maritime Archaeology and Conservation (CMAC) was created in May 2005 by the regents of Texas A&M University.

The Nautical Archaeology Program (NAP) is a degree-granting program within the Anthropology Department at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.

Dokos shipwreck

The Dokos shipwreck is the oldest underwater shipwreck discovery known to archeologists. The wreck has been dated to the second Proto-Helladic period, 2700-2200 BC.

Ancient Black Sea shipwrecks found in the Black Sea date to Antiquity. In 1976, Willard Bascom suggested that the deep, anoxic waters of the Black Sea might have preserved ships from antiquity because typical wood-devouring organisms could not survive there. At a depth of 150 m, the Black Sea contains insufficient oxygen to support most familiar biological life forms.

Maagan Michael Ship

The Ma'agan Michael Ship is a well-preserved 5th-century BCE boat discovered off the coast of Kibbutz Ma'agan Michael, Israel, in 1985. The ship was excavated and its timber immersed in preservation tanks at the University of Haifa, undergoing a seven-year process of impregnation by heated polyethylene glycol (PEG). In March 1999, the boat was reassembled and transferred to a dedicated wing built at the Hecht Museum, on the grounds of the university. The boat has provided researchers with insights into ancient methods of shipbuilding and the evolution of anchors.

Honor Frost Pioneer in underwater archaeology

Honor Frost was a pioneer in the field of underwater archaeology, who led many mediterranean archaeological investigations, especially in the Lebanon, and was noted for her typology of stone anchors and skills in archaeological illustration.

The Molasses Reef Shipwreck is the site of a ship which wrecked in the Turks and Caicos Islands early in the 16th century. It is the oldest wreck of a European ship in the Americas to have been scientifically excavated.

Innes McCartney Nautical archaeologist

Dr. Innes J. McCartney is a British nautical archaeologist, and historian. He is currently a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at Bournemouth University.

Ralph K. Pedersen is a nautical archaeologist from Levittown New York, United States. He was the DAAD Gastdozent für Nautische Archäologie at Philipps-Universität Marburg 2010-2013, and has been Distinguished Visiting Professor in Anthropology and Knapp Chair in Liberal Arts at the University of San Diego, and the Whittlesey Chair Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of History and Archaeology at the American University of Beirut.