Maritime archaeology is a scientific discipline that studies man and society using archaeological remains located under the water or in connection with the water.
Maritime archaeologists are specialised in archaeological remains and finds in or near the water – at the bottom of the sea, in lakes, on beaches and on islands. They often dive when new harbours, bridges and other lakeside buildings are to be built. Under the surface of the water, they can discover just about anything, including settlements, forts, piers, U-boats, planes – and wrecks. The finds are documented by the archaeologist with the help of technical instruments on a boat.
The puzzle pieces that maritime archaeologists manage to put together by examining wrecks and other remains gives us new knowledge. In addition to investigations and excavations, studies of older literature and map materials, new technologies, scientific methods, and art and cultural history methods are also very helpful.
They then interpret the material and try to create an image of the objects themselves and an idea of the historical context in which they existed.
Working as an archaeological diver
Marine archaeologists often study remains that are still under water, which means they have to dive to the site. Archaeological divers need to be trained divers as well.
Carrying out archaeological investigations under water requires time and patience. The deeper the divers go, the less time they can spend working on the bottom. The maximum permitted working depth for professional divers is 40 metres – but they can only stay at that depth for ten minutes before they have to surface again. For this reason, they usually don’t work at depths greater than 30 metres, so that they can stay underneath a bit longer.
A diver carries lot of equipment needed for breathing and working under water.