Maritime Archaeology is the study of past people and their activities and associations with the sea and inland bodies of water. Maritime Archaeology includes the remains of ships, boats and other early watercraft, submerged settlements and landscapes, and cultural material that has fallen, been lost or was deliberately deposited in the water. Maritime Archaeology is not constrained by one time period: it is a thematic discipline that spans from recent historic periods to the Palaeolithic. Some Maritime Archaeology focuses on dry land sites, as well as thematic structures such as lighthouses, harbours, nearshore constructions, and material related to maritime industries. Maritime archaeologists are often divers, but our students do not necessarily have to dive in order to study and practice maritime archaeology — many of our students dive, but this is not a prerequisite. Modern techniques, such as marine geophysics and remote sensing allow for underwater archaeological investigations from a topside environment.

The Department of Archaeology at Flinders University has taught Maritime Archaeology at undergraduate level since 1996. The Graduate Program in Maritime Archaeology was established in 2002 and is now the largest and most successful of its kind in Australia. It is rated as one of the top programs in the world, and Char of the UNESCO UNITWIN Network for Underwater Archaeology (2015 – 2018). The Flinders Maritime Archaeology program has two full time academic staff, plus additional sessional and part time, as well as adjunct staff, and a technical officer, and Ph.D. Candidates on scholarship, many of whom also work part-time in the program. The Graduate Program currently has approximately 30 graduate students and has drawn students from many different countries (including Australia, Brunei, Canada, Croatia, Egypt, Indonesia, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Sri Lanka, South Africa, UK, and the USA). Graduates of the program now work as archaeologists around the world, employed by underwater cultural heritage management agencies, museums and consultancy companies as well as universities in Australia and abroad.

Dedicated topics in maritime archaeology at Flinders include:

ARCH2204   Australian Maritime Archaeology
ARCH2211   Ships and Seafaring in the Indian Ocean
ARCH3208   History, Theory and Issues in Maritime and Underwater Archaeology
ARCH8150   Maritime Archaeology in Australia
ARCH8151   History, Theory and Issues in Maritime and Underwater Archaeology GE
ARCH8152   Maritime Archaeological Field School
ARCH8153   The Archaeology of Submerged Landscapes
ARCH8155   The Archaeology of Seafaring
ARCH8156   Advanced Maritime Archaeology Fieldwork Practicum
ARCH8157   Methods in Underwater Archaeology
ARCH8158   Ships: Research, Recording and Reconstruction
ARCH8160   Ships and Seafaring in the Indian Ocean

For more information about studying maritime archaeology at Flinders please contact the program coordinator in maritime archaeology Dr Wendy van Duivenvoorde.

See a movie clip of students communicating underwater.

Communicating under water (WMV 991KB)

See a movie clip of students mapping underwater.

Underwater mapping (WMV 534KB)

 Further information on the program

  • Please click here to access further information on the Flinders University website about the Master of Maritime Archaeology.
  • Please click here to access further information on the Flinders University website about the Graduate Diploma in Maritime Archaeology.
  • Please click here to access further information on the Flinders University website about the Graduate Certificate in Maritime Archaeology.

Further information on diving

  • Please click here to access information on the Flinders University Diving Requirements.