Ford and Colleagues Publish Maritime Archaeology Textbook

Posted on 7/7/2020 11:56:24 AM

Ben Ford (Anthropology), Jessi Halligan (Florida State University), and Alexis Catsambis (US Naval History and Heritage Command) recently published Our Blue Planet, a first-of-its-kind maritime and underwater archaeology textbook.

Our Blue Planet coverOur Blue Planet, An Introduction to Maritime and Underwater Archaeology, published by Oxford University Press, is the first textbook to focus on underwater and maritime archaeology.

“After teaching maritime archaeology courses at several institutions, we identified the need for a specific textbook,"” said Ford. “More and more maritime archaeology courses are being taught across the globe at both the graduate and undergraduate level.”

Our Blue Planet provides a comprehensive introduction to the field of maritime and underwater archaeology that is accessible to all readers. It covers the full breadth of maritime and underwater archaeology, including formerly terrestrial sites drowned by rising sea levels, coastal sites, and a wide variety of wreck sites ranging across the globe and spanning from antiquity to World War II.

The well-illustrated book is designed for introductory maritime archaeology courses, as well as general readers interested in underwater archaeology. Our Blue Planet describes both the state of the art in terms of methods, as well offering a thematic survey of what has been learned from archaeology underwater and along the coasts. Situating the maritime archaeology within the broader study of history and archaeology, this book advocates that an understanding of how our ancestors interacted with rivers, lakes, and oceans is integral to comprehending the human past.

Beginning with a definition of the field and several chapters dedicated to the methods of finding, recording, and interpreting submerged sites, Our Blue Planet provides an entry point for all readers, whether or not they are familiar with maritime and underwater archaeology or archaeology in general. The book then shifts to a thematic approach with chapters exploring human interactions with the watery world, both along the coasts and by ship. These chapters discuss the relationships between culture, technology, and environment that allowed humans to spread across the globe. Because ships were the primary means for humans to interact with large bodies of water, they are the focus of several chapters on the development of shipbuilding technology, the lives of sailors, and the uses of ships in exploration, expansion, and warfare.

The book ends with chapters on how and why the non-renewable submerged archaeological record should be managed, so that both current and future generations can learn from the achievements and failures of past societies, as well as on how anyone can become involved in maritime and underwater archaeology. 

Our Blue Planet includes nearly 20 contributions by international scholars describing their work and the most important experiences as archaeologists.

Department of Anthropology