Helen Farr #FLShipwrecks Mentor

Helen Farr #FLShipwrecks Mentor

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

Location University of Southampton


  • Thanks for telling me that- I'm very glad!

  • I think the course material is available for a year! Glad you like it.

  • Interesting... Possibly, however, only in areas that would have been terrestrial during the last glacial maximum.

  • Yes- for us too!

  • Well, it is hard to tell for sure but we know the Straits of Gibraltar have been open since the Messinian Salinity Crisis- circa. 5 million years!

  • An interesting and fun discussion of Flores & the Hobbit in Nature this week: http://www.nature.com/news/the-discovery-of-homo-floresiensis-tales-of-the-hobbit-1.16197?WT.mc_id=TWT_NatureNews

  • Hi Cajun!

  • Yes, this was our colleague Lucy Blue, who is also an educator on this course!

  • Was I?!

  • Hi Lorraine there is something on Atlantis coming up...

  • Dating this far back in time is a bit of an art... 2 chronologies have been put forward for the earliest Australian sites - a long one and a shorter one (i.e, older and more recent). most of the colleagues I work with Internationally agree with the dates of c. 50,000 years, possibly a max of 60,000.

  • Hi Rob, yes that certainly is a possibility and the Gulf of Carpentaria is great place to research this. This would fall under Birdsell's 'northern route' (see the SAHUL time map). I'm particularly interested in the southern route though- partly because of the location of the known sites- however it would only need a new site to be found and well dates and...

  • Hi Brian, hopefully you'll have found what you are after in the next step...

  • Hi, my goal in being involved in this course is to share a subject I am passionate about with a wide audience. You do not need to have any expertise, and all observations and comments are welcome. Sometimes fresh eyes open new windows for the rest of us... hopefully you will learn lots & something may catch your interest or inspire you or make you think in a...

  • Fantastic! Do you know about the Pygmy hippos! Some of my favourites!

  • Lots of new evidence come out in the lasts few weeks about this- new *early* South American sites! So exciting. I will write a blog...

  • Haha! Thanks Michael, I'll try not to! We'll consider the Mary Rose in more detail later on- so you may find out...

  • Hi Stephen, we felt an introduction to the background theory should be included in this course. It is tough to cater for such a wide range of experience and backgrounds of the people on the course- this form of teaching is pretty new for us too. The links explain things in more detail for those that are fascinated by this side of the discipline, don't worry...

  • Lots of interesting questions and thoughts! We can make an informed guess at some of these things but we may never know for sure- until we find some more archaeology!
    With regards to exact distances and the marine environment- this ties to the questions of sea-level change- and Fraser & I will discuss this in week 3... Stay tuned!

  • Good question. Obsidian is a favourite material of mine & I could talk for hours about it- but in brief- in certain contexts volcanoes produce an acidic/ rhyolitic lava that cools very quickly to form a volcanic glass- known as obsidian (incidentally it generally has a frothy, bubbly layer on the top- which is pumice- a pint of Guinness is a good...

  • Yes they would very likely have used the sun and star positions to note their position and the amount of time that had elapsed. We don't know exactly what forms of navigation would have been used at this date, but my feeling is that people would have been very attuned to the natural landscape and their environment. Natural navigation cues include the flight...

  • I have added a few new links in the text in case they help...

  • oh, thanks Keith!

  • Hi Linda, yes, that is so you know who to blame ; )
    Glad you are enjoying the course, we are trying to cater for different levels and as you can see, different interests. Maritime Archaeology is a broad subject!

  • I'm a fan of Petrie too. Yes, also a forefather of archaeology- I was a bit constricted by space- but he is still an important figure!

  • Hi Steve, well I'd say my colleagues spread across the entire range of theoretical leanings- so Southampton doesn't fit one school of thought. Equally I probably cherry pick which ever ideas I like and may help me think about the data in interesting ways. But if pushed...I'd say I was more of a post processual archaeologist. The reason for this is quite simply...

  • Hi Maria, don't worry you won't be tested on this! The key thing to take from this is that as well as technological developments, the discipline has developed in terms of how we think about things too. Many of the ideas (& jargon) are borrowed from other disciplines, social science, geography and philosophy- and these 'theories' reflect the interests of the...

  • Hi George, in one way you have hit the nail on the head- archaeological theory has developed through academic discourse (from one grad to another)! The history of thought may seem quite complex and clouded by jargon- many of the terms used are heavily loaded with specific meaning and have a history of debate all of their own! Some people thrive off this...

  • I'm glad it is clear and useful.

  • Glad it is interesting, yes you definitely will hear more about new technology...

  • I know, it is fantastic just how international this course is!

  • Glad you are interested in our subject. If you are interested in learning to dive you may want to look at joining your local BSAC club http://join.bsac.com/?gclid=CPCQoeLxmsECFc7HtAodVn4AXg or looking at taking a PADI course: http://www.padi.com/scuba-diving/

  • Don't worry, you don't need to be a diver to do this course!

  • Keen to hear more about that!

  • Hi Roger, hope you enjoy the course!

  • Thanks Anna! enjoy!

  • Very true Pedro- so many opportunities.

  • Enjoy Linda!

  • Hi Aaron, have you considered coming to us in Southampton?! We are a world leading centre for maritime archaeology

  • Hi Steve- yes, maybe this will introduce you to new ways of appreciating wreck sites.

  • Hi Nerissa- great place to be placed. I hope you enjoy the course and it inspires your future study.

  • Wow Daniel! Have you marked your location on the interactive map yet?! You probably know all about Pacific navigation and the Marshall Islands but this is something that will be in a blog next week!

  • Hope it is useful!

  • Hi Louise, that is the very thing I study! we'll cover it a bit next week but you are very welcome to talk to me about it too- nothing I like more than talking about my favourite subject...

  • Welcome to the course WenJing!

  • Don't worry, an interest in the subject is all you need at the moment!

  • Sounds interesting- I hope you enjoy the course!

  • Hope you enjoy it Sheila! You can always keep doing some research after the course has ended.

  • I'm rather partial to my dry suit these days!

  • Glad you are interested. Take a look at the MA degree we offer and feel free to ask any questions about it. Helen

  • Haha! yes we are a friendly bunch!

  • Don't worry- this is only for reference!

  • Thanks for pointing this out- we will get this sorted asap...

  • Yes, adding context is really useful!

  • Hi Tammy and Kevin,
    We also have the timeline in week 2.26 which is the Archaeology of Seafaring through the Ages, it is populated with shipwrecks and the associated activity step gives you the chance to add your favorite shipwrecks too. So don't worry! We can't cover everything in 4 weeks but have aimed to cover as much as possible. The timeline above aims...

  • Thanks- WA has such great Maritime Archaeology resources!

  • Yes, you will still be able to access the timeline-feel free to get back to us on this one as the course continues!

  • I agree with you on the Australian dates being closer to 50,000- you can read about this in more detail next week.

  • Glad you are enjoying it- don't forget you can flick forward and backward so if you want to check up on something later on you can come back to some of the 'building blocks' that we are providing this week.

  • Thanks Mark!

  • Yes, here is more information about the gig you are referring to: http://cma.soton.ac.uk/partnerships-and-collaborations/integrite-sailing-admirals-gig/

  • This is a good point.

  • Yes, I remember seeing this- it was fascinating! The Goodwin Sands have many surprises!

  • Good point- we deal with this in detail in week 4, but yes, some wreck sites are legally protected and nothing should ever be removed from a shipwreck site. We strive to protect all wrecks from treasure hunters and looters through education and most diving schools teach divers to remove nothing and leave nothing but bubbles etc. There is a debate as to whether...

  • Hi- we definitely will be exploring this in more detail- stay tuned!

  • Anna, there are many coasts which have been submerged- I hope you'll be particularly interested in the steps on submerged landscapes and our comment on Atlantis !

  • Yes- it is a problem but education is one way we can help prevent (or slow) it.

  • So many great responses!

  • Hi Martin- that is true- we do talk a little about site preservation- hope you find this interesting.

  • Hi!
    I'm Helen, I'm one of the educators on this course and I'm based in Southampton, England.
    I have just been looking at our map (above)- such a great coverage and so many of you from far and wide- welcome! Looking forward to all your input and hope you enjoy the course!
    Don't forget our blog http://moocs.southampton.ac.uk/shipwrecks/
    and you can follow...

  • Hi Nick- we will be having a google hangout too...

  • Hi Paul- I agree, this is a standard future learn intro and our videos don't have this, so you should be OK

  • Thanks!

  • Never too late!

  • I hope you enjoy it!

  • Yep! darting from one campus to the next to teach this morning made me question why we don't do all teaching online... also whether i would have fared better wearing a wetsuit.

  • Thanks for the link

  • Hi Matt- as you know GUE diving developed specifically for cave divers, however some of the techniques used can be useful for diving any 'overhead' environment so it directly translates into wreck diving. Hope you find the course interesting!

  • Hi Neil- a few interesting wrecks off the coast where you are. Take a look at the BSAC page to find out more: http://www.bsac.com/divelocations.asp?section=1251&itemid=1929

  • Never too old Susan!

  • I hope we keep you!

  • Hi Alison- sounds a good match- enjoy the course!

  • Hi Joanne- I love this. It is the passion that draws us in- I hope you enjoy the course!

  • Hi Nic! Fantastic that you are actually at sea at the moment- perfect time to take the course and while away some hours. Feel free to get in touch and talk to us about the MA/MSc and keep us updated on where-abouts in the world you are during the course!

  • Hope you enjoy it Ryan!

  • Hi- Fantastic! we will be talking about this in week 3... enjoy!

  • Sounds interesting- good luck Ramin and hope you enjoy the course.

  • I have done many a dive in Strangford Lough- great place!

  • Sounds interesting! You don't have to dive to be a maritime archaeologist- so hopefully your character did make it!

  • Fantastic! I hope you like this course and it inspires you to keep studying : )

  • Hello Shaun!

  • There are some really interesting Neolithic sites (among others) off the Israel coast- take a look at Atlit Yam if you haven't seen it before!

  • Hi Dawn- yes they do, this week I think!

  • Hi Irina, there is a long history of seafaring in the Black Sea and a well documented Submerged Landscape- a great place to be diving!

  • Enjoy!

  • Hi Nathan- great that you find this interesting, I think you'll particularly like what is coming up at the end of week 2 if you are interested in colonialism and empire. Also if you are interested in the Caribbean- do you know the history of Port Royal in Jamaica? http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5430/

  • Hi Paul, we will be talking about documenting wrecks in a few contexts- watch out for the blog posts too- hopefully it will jog your memory about the NAS course! Good to see a GUE diver on here- Helen