• University of Southampton

Shipwrecks and Submerged Worlds: Maritime Archaeology

Learn how maritime archaeology investigates our changing relationship with the oceans and seas, from 2.5m years ago until today.

27,406 enrolled on this course

A diver exploring some amphora from a shipwreck
  • Duration

    4 weeks
  • Weekly study

    6 hours

People have explored and depended on the oceans of our planet for millennia. During that time the geography of our world has changed radically as coastal regions have flooded and islands have risen up, or been lost beneath the waves. With 70% of the world’s surface covered by water, an unparalleled, yet largely untouched record of human life has been left beneath the sea for us to discover, from our earliest ancestors right through to present day. Over the length of this Shipwrecks and Submerged Worlds course we will learn about maritime archaeology together - exploring underwater landscapes from the ancient Mediterranean to the prehistoric North Sea, and consider Shipwrecks from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific coast of the Americas.

We will introduce you to the pioneers of the discipline and explain what maritime archaeology is and why it is relevant today. We’ll also explore the technologies used to investigate these challenging environments and the new horizons that are opening to us daily. Finally, we’ll help show you ways in which you can become further involved in the exciting world of maritime archaeology.

The Centre for Maritime Archaeology is one of the world’s leading maritime research centres. Its strength lies in the breadth and depth of knowledge held by its staff, its variety of active projects across the globe and the energy and enthusiasm of its students. As you will learn through this course, maritime archaeology is a highly demanding field, drawing on marine geophysics, archaeology, history, environmental science and advanced computing techniques. We hope that the diverse expertise of our team can truly do justice to the potential of this topic to transform our understanding of human society in the past, present and potentially the future.

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What topics will you cover?

  • Introduction to Maritime Archaeology
  • Shipwrecks and Seafaring
  • Understanding the Sea
  • Doing Maritime Archaeology

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Outline how Maritime Archaeology has developed as a distinctive area within the wider discipline of Archaeology.
  • Identify the different environments in which maritime archaeological work can take place.
  • Recognise some of the different types of ships and boats, and their different parts and pieces, that you will encounter during the rest of the course.
  • Explain what maritime archaeology is to your friends and family.
  • Differentiate between direct and indirect archaeological evidence for early seafaring
  • Describe the major developments in boat and ship technology
  • List at least 5 case studies of shipwrecks
  • Critique the use of iconography for gaining information about seafaring in the past
  • Give examples of goods traded by sea
  • Describe in what way the Age of Sail contributed to the construction of European Empire
  • Describe the four main factors that affect sea-level and understand why these are relevant to maritime archaeology
  • Locate areas of the continental shelf that have been submerged since the last Ice Age and discuss potential survey methods for these areas
  • List geophysical techniques used in marine surveys
  • Identify shipwrecks in survey data
  • Differentiate between a variety of simple watercraft
  • Describe the principal investigative techniques used by Maritime Archaeologists
  • Recognise the debates surrounding ethics which emerge from working underwater
  • Differentiate between preservation in situ and preservation by record (through excavation)
  • Identify areas within which the field could move forward.

Who is the course for?

Anyone and everyone is welcome to take this course. Students should be curious, enthusiastic readers, with an interest in archaeology, history and the sea.

What software or tools do you need?

There are no essential resources for this course. During the four weeks of the course, there are some activities that give you the option to use online applications such as:

Who will you learn with?

I am a specialist in maritime prehistory and geoarchaeology who has been lucky enough to work on projects both on land and underwater across the globe. You can follow me on twitter via @FSturt

Hello, I am one of the educators on the 'Shipwrecks and Submerged Landscapes' course. I am a maritime archaeologist, diver and sailor.

Julian is a maritime archaeologist who studies the construction, rigging and use of sailing vessels in the ancient Mediterranean and Indian Ocean through archaeological and experimental research.

A lecturer in maritime archaeology I am passionate about traditional boats, maritime landscapes and ancient harbours. I conduct research and training in the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and Arab world.

I'm a maritime archaeologist interested in seafaring, technology and social change. I investigate settlements, harbours and shipwrecks on land and under water, from coastal landscapes to the deep sea.

Who developed the course?

University of Southampton

Southampton is a place for ambitious people keen to stretch their intellectual abilities and help change the world.

Learning on FutureLearn

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  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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