State of the Art? The International Handbook of Underwater Archaeology

State of the Art? The International Handbook of Underwater Archaeology
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   PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE This article was downloaded by: [Indiana University Libraries]  On: 27 August 2009  Access details: Access Details: [subscription number 906867176]  Publisher Routledge  Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House,37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK Reviews in Anthropology Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information: State of the Art? The International Handbook of Underwater Archaeology Steve VinsonOnline Publication Date: 01 January 2004 To cite this Article Vinson, Steve(2004)'State of the Art? The International Handbook of Underwater Archaeology',Reviews inAnthropology,33:2,95 — 109 To link to this Article: DOI: 10.1080/00938150490447420 URL: Full terms and conditions of use: article may be used for research, teaching and private study purposes. Any substantial orsystematic reproduction, re-distribution, re-selling, loan or sub-licensing, systematic supply ordistribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden.The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make any representation that the contentswill be complete or accurate or up to date. The accuracy of any instructions, formulae and drug dosesshould be independently verified with primary sources. The publisher shall not be liable for any loss,actions, claims, proceedings, demand or costs or damages whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directlyor indirectly in connection with or arising out of the use of this material.  State of the Art? The InternationalHandbook of Underwater Archaeology  Steve Vinson Ruppe´, Carol V., and Janet F. Barstad (Eds.). International Handbook of  Underwater Archaeology  . London & New York: Kluwer AcademicPublishers, 2002. 894 pp. including index and two appendices.$195.00, cloth.The International Handbook of Underwater Archaeology  , edited by Carol V.Ruppe´and Janet F. Barstad, is, at 894 pages, a massive and ambitious work.Like many such ambitious works, it succeeds in many places, and containsmuch of great interest; however, it also falls short in many places. A basic,bottom-line judgment is that the book will be a valuable first resource formany seeking information on diverse topics of nautical archaeology, butthat despite its bulk, it does not by any means offer one-stop shopping.Its most valuable features are its many extensive bibliographies and a num-ber of interesting discussions of individual projects, legal and ethical issues, STEVE VINSON is an Assistant Professor of History at the State University of New York, New Paltz.Vinson earned a Ph.D. in Egyptology at Johns Hopkins University in 1995 and an MA in nauti-cal archaeology at Texas A & M University in 1987. While a student at A & M, he participated inthe underwater excavation of the 17th century settlement of Port Royal, Jamaica, and of the  Late Bronze Age Uluburun wreck in Turkey. A specialist in the nautical history and archaeology of ancient Egypt, he is the author of   The Nile Boatman at Work (Van Zabern, Mainz am Rhein,1998) and  Egyptian Boats and Ships (Shire, Princes Risborough, UK, 1994). He also consulted on Franck Goddio’s excavation of a Roman shipwreck at Alexandria, Egypt, in 1998–1999. Forthcoming and recent publications include ‘‘From Lord Elgin to James Henry Breasted: The  Politicization of the Past in the First Era of Globalization,’’ to appear in Marketing Heritage: Archaeology and the Consumption of the Past (edited by U. Baram and Y. Rowan, Alta Mira Press, forthcoming January, 2004); ‘‘An Early Ptolemaic Agricultural Account from the Serapaeum,’’ to appear in the  Festschrift for K.-Th. Zauzich (edited by F. Hoffmann and H.-J.Thissen, forthcoming summer, 2004); ‘‘Notes on Two Old Egyptian Inscriptions. I: The PalermoStone and the Royal Ship of Cheops. II: An Early Use of the Hand-with-Egg Hieroglyph,’’  Go¨ttinger Miszellen, 190; 89–97 (2002); and ‘‘Communication and Transportation,’’ Chapter 4 of   World Eras, Vol. 5: Ancient Egypt, pp. 64–96 (edited by E. Bleiberg, Gale Group, Farmington Hills, MI, 2001).  Address correspondence to Steve Vinson, Department of History, SUNY-New Paltz, 75S.Manheim Blvd., New Paltz, NY 12561. E-mail: vinsons@newpaltz.eduReviews in Anthropology, Vol. 33, pp. 95–109Copyright # 2004 Taylor & Francis Inc.ISSN: 0093-8157 printDOI: 10.1080 = 00938150490447420 95   D o w nl o ad ed  B y : [ I ndi a n a  U ni v e r si t y  Lib r a ri e s]  A t : 16 :20 27  A u g u s t 2009  and theoretical questions. Its most frustrating features are a pronouncedunevenness of coverage, including some quite surprising gaps (most con-spicuously, no article on nautical archaeology in Turkey); unevenness of documentation in many articles; and a principle of organization that privi-leges national and state boundaries over cultural or historical considerations.The International Handbook  is divided into three main divisions of unequal length. The first division is an Introduction that contains two chap-ters (‘‘Underwater Archaeology: Filling in the Gaps’’ by John Barstad, and‘‘Timelines of Underwater Archaeology’’ by John Broadwater). The mainpart of the Handbook  is the second division, The Geography of Underwater  Archaeology  , whose 31 chapters are divided into four sections. Section 1,covering the United States, is by far the longest, with chapters devoted to(in the order they appear in the Handbook  ) Maine, Massachusetts, LakeChamplain, Lake George, New York, Rhode Island, The Maryland-Chesa-peake Region, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, The Great LakesStates, Steamboat Archaeology on the Missouri River, Texas, the PacificCoast, and Hawaii.Section 2 covers Mexico, the Caribbean in general, Bermuda, and South America, although ‘‘South America’’ is represented solely by Argentina.Section 3 covers Europe and the Mediterranean, and includes chaptersdevoted to Sweden, Finland and the Eastern Baltic, England and Wales,Scotland, the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, France, Italy, andPortugal. It goes without saying that this list includes major gaps; one cer-tainly would have wished (taking the nationalist organizational principlesof the book momentarily for granted, but see more on this below) for arti-cles on Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Greece, and aboveall, Turkey. Section 4, in theory devoted to the East, Australia, and Africa,includes chapters on Israel; Egypt; Australia, the Indian Ocean and Asia;and South Africa.The third division of the book, Issues in Underwater Archaeology  , iscomprised of 14 chapters divided into three sections. Section 1, ‘‘Cultureand Law,’’ includes chapters devoted to the evolution of U.S. andinternational law on ownership and management of recent and historicshipwrecks, education, ethics and underwater archaeology, and public pro-grams. Section 2, ‘‘Technology,’’ includes chapters on deepwater archae-ology, side-scan sonar, geographic information systems, site corrosionmeasurements, site management, a case study on the oil tanker Montebelloand a discussion of whether its cargo of oil constitutes ‘‘heritage or hazard,’’preservation, and underwater archaeology on the internet. Section 3,‘‘Government Agencies,’’ is comprised of three chapters that discuss theactivities of three US Government agencies in the field of nautical archae-ology: a chapter on the activities of the US Navy, a chapter on the National 96   S. Vinson  D o w nl o ad ed  B y : [ I ndi a n a  U ni v e r si t y  Lib r a ri e s]  A t : 16 :20 27  A u g u s t 2009  Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and a chapter on the NationalPark Service.Finally, the book concludes with an essay on ‘‘Archaeology in the21st Century’’ by George F. Bass, the dean of nautical archaeology andProfessor Emeritus of Anthropology at Texas A&M University, and founderof the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, who is generally acknowledged asthe first academically trained archaeologist to not only direct but to person-ally work on an underwater site (Turkey’s Cape Gelidonya wreck, the LateBronze Age wreck excavated in 1960 when Bass was a Ph.D. student inclassical archaeology at the University of Pennsylvania; Bass (1967)). A place to start the present discussion is with the very conceptualizationof ‘‘underwater archaeology,’’ the name of the discipline that the editorsclearly favor. The appellation is problematic and is not adopted by allauthors in the titles of their contributions. Ten authors prefer the term‘‘Underwater Archaeology,’’ including one who also includes ‘‘Marine Archaeology;’’ five authors prefer ‘‘Maritime Archaeology;’’ two refer tothe archaeology of wrecks or vessel types; two refer to ‘‘Nautical Archae-ology;’’ one refers to ‘‘Deepwater Archaeology,’’ one to the ‘‘Archaeology of the U.S. Navy,’’ and two refer to archaeology only generally. The remain-der of the 48 chapter titles do not name the discipline at all. In a way, thissuggests the extent to which ‘‘underwater archaeology’’ is not a unifieddiscipline with a single agenda, focus, or scholarly paradigm—which is asit should be. No other archaeological discipline defines itself according tothe type of space in which it works—that is, there are few if any programsor institutes that promote ‘‘jungle’’ archaeology, and conceptually link Gua-temala, the Congo, and Cambodia on the basis of climate; nor are theremany ‘‘forest’’ archaeologists, whose skill-set would be just as applicableto the excavation of an Oneida village in upstate New York as to a Romanfort in the forests of Bavaria. Regardless of how useful technical experiencein a particular environment is, a successful excavation and a successful pub-lication require much more—knowledge of a culture and its history, a senseof what is significant, a sense of where there are gaps in present knowledge,and some ideas about how those gaps might be filled.It is for precisely this reason that George Bass, the founder of the disci-pline, has always preferred the term ‘‘nautical’’ archaeology, since it sug-gested an intellectual and not just a technical focus to the discipline:‘‘nautical’’ archaeology deals with ships, shipping, trade routes, economics,technology, and ultimately the entire sociology, anthropology, and history of the people who earned their living from the sea and the freshwaterbodies that were equally suitable for commercial or other use. But muchof what can be said about these topics is known through terrestrial excava-tions, literary, documentary or folkloric sources, or artistic representations State of the Art?  97    D o w nl o ad ed  B y : [ I ndi a n a  U ni v e r si t y  Lib r a ri e s]  A t : 16 :20 27  A u g u s t 2009  (cf., e.g., Casson, 1991, 1995). Nautical archaeology at its best, like any archaeology at its best, is not simply a description of an artifact and itsimmediate physical context but an attempt to locate the artifact in its histori-cal context—to bring this fragment of the past to life, linked with as many other fragments of the past as are needed to create a convincing andcompelling reconstruction of what the past was like and, most importantly,to explain why it was the way it was.The chapters of the Handbook  that are most successful are precisely those that move beyond a laundry list of sites and discuss how underwaterexcavation contributes to broader historical and anthropological knowl-edge. An excellent example is the chapter ‘‘Underwater Archaeology,Hawaiian Style,’’ by Hans Van Tilburg of the Marine Option Program atthe University of Hawaii at Manoa. Starting, in good Braudellian (and forthat matter, Michnerian) form with a description of the physical dispositionof the small and large islands that make up the Hawaiian archipelago, VanTilburg goes on to discuss what is, and what can be, known of the earliestcolonization of the Hawaiian Islands by Polynesians who reached Hawaiisometime in the first half of the first millennium BCE from the Marquesasand from Tahiti. According to Van Tilburg, earlier generations of anthropol-ogists thought that the Hawaiians had reached Hawaii, which is more than2,250 nautical miles from the nearest landfall, more or less by ‘‘accident.’’ Indoing so, those scholars preferred to ignore Hawaiian legends that describeintentional, long-distance voyaging by early Polynesians. Yet a growing body of physical evidence is adding to the plausibility of the Hawaiian’s own memory of their past, though much of it has come fromFrench Polynesia rather than Hawaii itself; most impressively, a pair of two23-foot-long canoe planks with some other canoe fragments were discov-ered on the island of Huahine, 110 miles northwest of Tahiti (Te RangiHiroa, 1964).There are two methodological points of significance here, although Van Tilburg does not discuss them explicitly. First is a shift on the part of anthropologists towards a willingness to incorporate local traditions intotheir models of the past. Though such models ought never to be accepteduncritically, one suspects that in this case, disbelief in the ability of Polynesians to ‘‘deliberately’’ sail from Tahiti to Hawaii may have had moreto do with cultural biases than an honest evaluation of such evidence asexisted to approach the problem. Second is the observation that the archae-ological evidence for the existence of ocean-worthy sailing canoes that wererelevant to Hawaiian history came not from Hawaii itself but from the areaof Tahiti, which again underscores the importance of taking a regional,rather than a national = political, approach to the kinds of questions thatnautical archaeology is especially suited to answer. 98  S. Vinson  D o w nl o ad ed  B y : [ I ndi a n a  U ni v e r si t y  Lib r a ri e s]  A t : 16 :20 27  A u g u s t 2009
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