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Ed Rachal Foundation Nautical Archaeology Series

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Ed Rachal Foundation Nautical Archaeology Series

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Caligula's Barges and the Renaissance Origins of Nautical Archaeology under Water

John M. McManamon

Sometime around 1446 A.D., Cardinal Prospero Colonna commissioned engineer Battista Alberti to raise two immense Roman vessels from the bottom of the lago di Nemi, just south of Rome. By that time, local fishermen had been fouling their nets and occasionally recovering stray objects from the sunken ships for 800 years. Having no idea of the size of the objects he was attempting to recover, Alberti failed.

For most of the next 500 years, various attempts were made to recover the vessels. Finally, in 1928, Mussolini ordered the draining of the lake to remove the vessels and place them on the lake shore. In 1944, the ships burned in a fire that was generally blamed on the Germans.

John M. McManamon connects these attempts at underwater archaeology with the Renaissance interest in reconstructing the past in order to affect the present. Nautical and marine archaeologists, as well as students and scholars of Renaissance history and historiography, will appreciate this masterfully researched and gracefully written work.

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Coffins of the Brave

Lake Shipwrecks of the War of 1812

Kevin J. Crisman

In Coffins of the Brave: Lake Shipwrecks of the War of 1812, archaeologist Kevin J. Crisman and his fellow contributors examine sixteen different examples of 1812-era naval and commercial shipbuilding. They range from four small prewar vessels to four 16- or 20-gun brigs, three warships of much greater size, a steamboat hull converted into an armed schooner, two gunboats, and two postwar schooners. Despite their differing degrees of preservation and archaeological study, each vessel reveals something about how its creators sought the best balance of strength, durability, capacity, stability, speed, weatherliness, and seaworthiness for the anticipated naval struggle on the lakes along the US-Canadian border.

The underwater archaeology reported here has guided a new approach to understanding the events of 1812–15, one that blends the evidence in contemporary documents and images with a wealth of details derived from objects lost, discarded, and otherwise left behind.

This heavily illustrated volume balances scholarly findings with lively writing, interjecting the adventure of working on shipwrecks and archaeological finds into the investigation and interpretation of a war that continues to attract interest two centuries after it was fought.

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Confederate Saboteurs

Building the Hunley and Other Secret Weapons of the Civil War

Mark K. Ragan

Facing an insurmountable deficit in resources compared to the Union navy, the Confederacy resorted to unorthodox forms of warfare to combat enemy forces.
Perhaps the most energetic and effective torpedo corps and secret service company organized during the American Civil War, the Singer Secret Service Corps, led by Texan inventor and entrepreneur Edgar Collins Singer, developed and deployed submarines, underwater weaponry, and explosive devices.
The group’s main government-financed activity, which eventually led to other destructive inventions such as the Hunley submarine and behind-enemy-line railroad sabotage, was the manufacture and deployment of an underwater contact mine. During the two years the Singer group operated, several Union gunboats, troop transports, supply trains, and even the famous ironclad monitor Tecumseh fell prey to its inventions.
In Confederate Saboteurs: Building the Hunley and Other Secret Weapons of the Civil War, submarine expert and nautical archaeologist Mark K. Ragan presents the untold story of the Singer corps. Poring through previously unpublished archival documents, Ragan also examines the complex personalities and relationships behind the Confederacy’s use of torpedoes and submarines.

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Dutch East India Company Shipbuilding

The Archaeological Study of Batavia and Other Seventeenth-Century VOC Ships

Wendy van Duivenvoorde

Eight months into its maiden voyage to the Indies, the Dutch East India Company’s Batavia sank on June 4, 1629 on Morning Reef in the Houtman Abrolhos off the western coast of Australia.

Wendy van Duivenvoorde’s five-year study was aimed at reconstructing the hull of Batavia, the only excavated remains of an early seventeenth-century Indiaman to have been raised and conserved in a way that permits detailed examination, using data retrieved from the archaeological remains, interpreted in the light of company archives, ship journals, and Dutch texts on shipbuilding of this period. Over two hundred tables, charts, drawings, and photographs are included.

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The Gurob Ship-Cart Model and Its Mediterranean Context

An Archaeological Find and Its Mediterranean Context

Shelley Wachsmann

When Shelley Wachsmann began his analysis of the small ship model excavated by assistants of famed Egyptologist W. M. F. Petrie in Gurob, Egypt, in 1920, he expected to produce a brief monograph that would shed light on the model and the ship type that it represented. Instead, Wachsmann discovered that the model held clues to the identities and cultures of the enigmatic Sea Peoples, to the religious practices of ancient Egypt and Greece, and to the oared ships used by the Bronze Age Mycenaean Greeks.

Although found in Egypt, the prototype of the Gurob model was clearly an Aegean-style galley of a type used by both the Mycenaeans and the Sea Peoples. The model is the most detailed representation presently known of this vessel type, which played a major role in changing the course of world history. Contemporaneous textual evidence for Sherden—one of the Sea Peoples—settled in the region suggests that the model may be patterned after a galley of that culture. Bearing a typical Helladic bird-head decoration topping the stempost, with holes along the sheer strakes confirming the use of stanchions, the model was found with four wheels and other evidence for a wagon-like support structure, connecting it with European cultic prototypes.

The online resources that accompany the book illustrate Wachsmann’s research and analysis. They include 3D interactive models that allow readers to examine the Gurob model on their computers as if held in the hand, both in its present state and in two hypothetical reconstructions. The online component also contains high-resolution color photos of the model, maps and satellite photos of the site, and other related materials. Offering a wide range of insights and evidence for linkages among ancient Mediterranean peoples and traditions, The Gurob Ship-Cart Model and Its Mediterranean Context presents an invaluable asset for anyone interested in the complexities of cultural change in the eastern Mediterranean at the end of the Bronze Age and the beginning of the Iron Age.

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Homeric Seafaring

By Samuel Mark

In this comprehensive history of Homer’s references to ships and seafaring, author Samuel Mark reveals patterns in the way that Greeks built ships and approached the sea between 850 and 750 b.c. To discuss and clarify the terms used by Homer, Mark draws on scholarly literature as well as examples from recent excavations of ancient shipwrecks. Mark begins by emphasizing the importance of the household during a period in which chiefs ruled and Greek nobles disdained merchants and considered seafaring a necessary but less than distinguished activity. His chapter on Odysseus’s construction of a ship includes discussions of the types of wood used. He concludes that most Greek ships were of laced, rather than pegged mortise-and-tenon construction. Mark goes on to discuss characteristics of Homeric ships and their stern ornaments, oars, quarter rudders, masts, mast-steps, keels, ropes, cables, and planks. Mark reaches several surprising conclusions: that in an agricultural society, seafaring was a common activity, even among the nobles; that hugging the coast could be more treacherous than sailing across open sea; that Homeric ships were built mainly to be sailed, instead of rowed; that sea battles were relatively common; that helmsmen were crucial to a safe voyage; and that harbors were little more than natural anchorages. Mark’s discussion of Homer’s geography covers theories that posit Odysseus sailing in the Adriatic and Mediterranean Seas and even on the Atlantic Ocean. As befits a study whose subjects are partly historical, partly archaeological, and partly myth and legend, Mark’s conclusions are tentative. Yet, this comprehensive and meticulous study of Homer’s references to ships and seafaring is sure to become a standard study on the subject.

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La Belle

The Archaeology of a Seventeenth-Century Vessel of New World Colonization

James E. Bruseth

In 1995, underwater archaeologists discovered the wreck of the earliest and most important French ship yet found in the Western hemisphere: La Salle's La Belle. For the next two years, a team of archaeologists and volunteers led by James E. Bruseth and sponsored by the Texas Historical Commission uncovered the ship's remains. Amid the shallow waters of Matagorda Bay, one of the most complex steel cofferdams ever constructed was built around the site, allowing the archaeologists to excavate the sunken wreck much as if it were located on dry land. The ship’s hold was discovered full of everything the would-be colonists would need to establish themselves in the New World; more than 1.6 milion artifacts were extracted from the site.
           More than two decades in the making due to the immensity of the find and the complexity of cataloging and conserving the artifacts, this book thoroughly documents one of the most significant North American archaeological discoveries of the twentieth century.

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The Lost Submarines of Pearl Harbor

James P. Delgado

“One of the last remaining and persistent mysteries of the Pearl Harbor attack is that of the Japanese Midget Submarines. It is a fascinating story of innovation, courage, secrets, and failed expectations. And it is not only a story of the morning hours of December 7, but of the years before to develop these weapons and the years after, where they were deployed in the great Pacific War and how they fared as weapons of war.”

These words by Daniel J. Basta, Director of the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, from the foreword of this manuscript, capture both the essence and the impact of this work, assembled by James P. Delgado and his coauthors. The authors have combed the records of the Imperial Japanese Navy and the recollections of its veterans as well as US Department of Defense archives. They have logged hours of direct observation and research on the mini-subs in their final resting places, in some cases more than 1,000 feet below the surface of the Pacific. And in the end, they have woven a tapestry of scholarship, historical sleuthing, scientific insight, and good storytelling that will enthrall specialists and history buffs alike.

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The Man Who Thought like a Ship

Loren C. Steffy

J. Richard “Dick” Steffy stood inside the limestone hall of the Crusader castle in Cyprus and looked at the wood fragments arrayed before him. They were old beyond belief. For more than two millennia they had remained on the sea floor, eaten by worms and soaking up seawater until they had the consistency of wet cardboard. There were some 6,000 pieces in all, and Steffy’s job was to put them all back together in their original shape like some massive, ancient jigsaw puzzle. He had volunteered for the job even though he had no qualifications for it. For twenty-five years he’d been an electrician in a small, land-locked town in Pennsylvania. He held no advanced degrees—his understanding of ships was entirely self-taught. Yet he would find himself half a world away from his home town, planning to reassemble a ship that last sailed during the reign of Alexander the Great, and he planned to do it using mathematical formulas and modeling techniques that he’d developed in his basement as a hobby. The first person ever to reconstruct an ancient ship from its sunken fragments, Steffy said ships spoke to him. Steffy joined a team, including friend and fellow scholar George Bass, that laid a foundation for the field of nautical archaeology. Eventually moving to Texas A&M University, his lack of the usual academic credentials caused him to be initially viewed with skepticism by the university’s administration. However, his impressive record of publications and his skilled teaching eventually led to his being named a full professor. During the next thirty years of study, reconstruction, and modeling of submerged wrecks, Steffy would win a prestigious MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant and would train most of the preeminent scholars in the emerging field of nautical archaeology. Richard Steffy’s son Loren, an accomplished journalist, has mined family memories, archives at Texas A&M and elsewhere, his father’s papers, and interviews with former colleagues to craft not only a professional biography and adventure story of the highest caliber, but also the first history of a field that continues to harvest important new discoveries from the depths of the world’s oceans.

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Maritime Studies in the Wake of the Byzantine Shipwreck at Yassiada, Turkey

Deborah N Carlson

In 2007 a symposium was held at Texas A&M University to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Texas A&M University Press’s publication of the first volume reporting the Yassiada shipwreck site. Seventeen papers from that symposium featured in this book broadly illustrate such varied topics as ships and seafaring life, maritime trade, naval texts, commercial cargoes, and recent developments in the analysis of the Yassiada ship itself.

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