What is Maritime Archaeology?

Maritime archaeology is the study of the material remains of people and their activities on, under, near or associated with the sea. Archaeological sites can include the remains of ships (shipwrecks), boats (boat finds) or other watercraft, aircraft that are underwater, and any cultural material dropped, lost or deliberately deposited in the water.  Maritime archaeology can also examine sites or remains that are completely dry, like lighthouses, harbour constructions, shore-based maritime industries (sealing and whaling), shipwreck shelter huts, houses of refuge, and lifesaving stations.

There are only a handful of universities worldwide that offer undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in the study of maritime archaeology.  The Department of Archaeology at Flinders University has taught maritime archaeology at undergraduate level since 1996 and at postgraduate level since 2002.  The Graduate Program in Maritime Archaeology was established in 2002 and is now the largest and most successful of its kind in Australia. The program draws students from all over the world, including Australia, USA, Canada, UK, New Zealand, Japan, the Netherlands, Brunei, Luxembourg, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and South Africa.

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
ARCH3309 Maritime Archaeology Field School

ARCH8150   Maritime Archaeology in Australia  (4.5 units)
ARCH8151   History, Theory and Issues in Maritime and Underwater Archaeology GE  (4.5 units)
ARCH8152   Maritime Archaeological Field School  (4.5 units)
ARCH8153   The Archaeology of Submerged Landscapes  (4.5 units)
ARCH8154   Underwater Cultural Heritage: Legislation, Management and Interpretation  (4.5 units)
ARCH8155   The Archaeology of Seafaring  (4.5 units)
ARCH8156   Advanced Maritime Archaeology Fieldwork Practicum  (4.5 units)
ARCH8157   Methods in Underwater Archaeology  (4.5 units)
ARCH8158   Ships: Research, Recording and Reconstruction  (4.5 units)
ARCH8159   Maritime Archaeology Fieldwork Practicum  (4.5 units)
ARCH8160   Ships and Seafaring in the Indian Ocean (4.5 units)

Flinders University Diving Requirements

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)


Current Projects

WWII Maritime Heritage in Saipan, CNMI

Cuttin' In and Tryin' Out

Defence, Discard and Australian Torpedo Boats

Kangaroo Island Shipwreck Shelter huts

(Re)Locating Narungga