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Nautical Archaeology

Recent Techniques Of Nautical Excavation

To search for objects underwater, nautical archaeologists now employ robots and improved sonar technology. These methods were employed to excavate the Titanic, an "indestructible" ocean vessel than sank in 1912. To search for the Titanic, an American-French team employed three robots: Alvin, Angus, and Argo. Alvin was a midget submarine that could descend to the 13 ft (4 m) depth where the ship lay buried. The photographic craft Angus and the television camera craft Argo assisted in pinpointing the location of the Titanic.

During the Titanic mission, the French researchers used a new kind of sonar known as side-scanning sonar. Ordinary sonar surveys a narrow field that must be carefully mapped out in advance. Side-scanning sonar eliminates this drawback, by picking up signals at a diagonal.



Ashmore, Wendy, and Robert J. Sharer. Discovering Our Past: A Brief Introduction to Archaeology. 3rd ed. New York: McGraw Hill, 1999.

Lampton, Christopher. Undersea Archaeology. New York: Franklin Watts, 1988.

Sunk! Exploring Underwater Archaeology. Minnesota: Runeston Press, 1994.

Throckmorton, Peter, ed. The Sea Remembers: Shipwrecks and Archaeology from Homer's Greece to the Rediscovery of the Titanic. London: Wiedenfeld & Nicolson, 1987.


Gibbins, D. "Shipwrecks and Maritime Archaeology." Archaeology Prospection 9, no. 2 (2002): 279-291.

Christine Molinari


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Amphora (plural: amphorae)

—A tall, graceful, two-handled jar with a narrow neck used to store wine, grain, etc., in classical times.


—A man-made object that has been shaped and fashioned for human use.


—A kind of mollusk with a wormlike body, which burrows through wood and other materials on ships.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Mysticism to Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotideNautical Archaeology - Techniques For Underwater Surveyance, Retrieval, And Analysis, The Development Of Nautical Archaeology, Whole-ship Retrieval