Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 20 Issue 04

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Volume 20, No. 4
Pages 62 - 67


Archaeological Oceanography

By Robert D. Ballard  
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For thousands of years, ancient mariners traversed our planet’s waters; unfortunately for them, many of their ships have been lost along the way, carrying their precious cargo and the history it represents to the bottom of the sea. For hundreds of years, attempts have been made to recover their contents. In Architettura Militare by Francesco de Marchi (1490–1574), for example, a device best described as a diving bell was used in a series of attempts to raise a fleet of “pleasure galleys” from the floor of Lake Nemi, Italy, in 1531. In Treatise on Artillery by Diego Ufano in the mid-1600s, a diver wearing a roughly fashioned hood and air hose of cowhide is shown lifting a cannon from the ocean floor. But, these early efforts to recover lost cargo from sunken shipwrecks were crude and highly destructive salvage operations.


Ballard, R.D. 2007. Archaeological oceanography. Oceanography 20(4):62–67, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2007.06.

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