Tel Shiqmona is a coastal hill southwest of the southern tip of Haifa Bay, Israel, occupied from c. 1500 BC to c. 640 AD. During this time it was isolated, away from land trade routes, exposed to the wind and sea, and had no natural harbor. A marine GIS was developed to analyze the site's maritime conditions and accessibility to try to account for its existence for over 2000 years. The site is threatened by expansion for Haifa's harbor, prompting the participation of the Haifa Municipality GIS Department, Israel Antiquities Authority, and the Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research Ltd. by providing data. The archaeologists studied artifacts, the historical geomorphology, bathymetry, sedimentation, currents, winds, and tides. When they combined these conditions with the parameters of sea-going vessels of the time, they discovered two near-shore channels that could be used by small craft to launch and land in calm conditions (and are still being used today).
Carlson, Deborah N. 2003. "The Classical Greek Shipwreck at Tektaş Burnu, Turkey." American Journal of Archaeology,
vol. 107, no. 4, October 2003, p. 581-600.
In 1996 Texas A&M's Institute of Nautical Archaeology (INA) discovered a 5th century BC Greek shipwreck off a rugged, uninhabited stretch of Turkey's Aegean coast. Excavations carried out over three seasons, 1999 - 2001, uncovered over 200 amphorae and other artifacts that shed light on a little known period of Greek seafaring and trade during the time of Pericles. These artifacts included the earliest example of lead-filled wooden anchors and the only example of a pair of white marble ophthalmos, or ships' eyes, associated with a merchant vessel. The shipwreck lay at depths from 38 to 54 meters, which limited the divers to only two 20-minute dives per day. Fortunately, the water was clear enough at depth to allow ambient light photography, so they substituted digital photogrammetric mapping for the more traditional and time-consuming trilateration, with no loss of accuracy. They also developed their own GIS relational database to integrate the photogrammetry, digital photos and physical characteristics of each artifact when raised.
Dambrot, Stuart M. 1997. "Recovering the Belle: Using GPS to Raise a 300 Year-Old Shipwreck." EOM (Earth Observation
Magazine), vol. 6, no. 9, September 1997, p. 15-17.
GIS map overlays were used in conjunction with historical documents to aid in the search for and excavation of the 1686 wreck of LaSalle's ship, the Belle, in 1995. The primary emphasis of this article was the use of Differential GPS to efficiently control the search pattern created with the GIS. Barto Arnold, the Texas State Marine Archaeologist, based at the Institute of Nautical Archaeology (INA), Texas A&M, lead the search in Matagorda Bay near Corpus Christi, Texas. He tried unsuccessfully to locate the Belle back in the 1970's using radar-based navigation and standard marine charts (see Arnold (1981) in Related References). Even though there was only a rudimentary use of GIS as a planning tool, the use of it and GPS saved thousands of dollars in time and money.
Ialuna, Roberto. 2003. ""ArchaeoEgadi": A GIS for the Marine Archaeological Survey in the Egadi Islands." Coast GIS '03, Fifth
International Symposium on GIS and Computer Cartography for Coastal Zone Management, October 16th-18th
2003, Genova, Italy.
The Egadi Islands off the western tip of Sicily, Italy, have been an important center for maritime trade since the time of the Phoenicians. The ArchaeoEgadi GIS was developed to integrate Differential GPS, multibeam echosounder bathymetry, sub-seafloor imaging sonar, and magnetometry data. The information gleaned from geographic analyses enabled the project to manage their resources more efficiently than with traditional direct-observation methods. They pinpointed the most likely areas for archaeological study, which has already facilitated the discovery of the wreck of an 11th century Sicilian-Arabic vessel.
Kioske, John. 2002. "SOS from the Monitor." Geospatial Solutions, vol. 12, no. 5, May 2002, p. 32-36.
After a short but significant career that forever changed naval warfare, the Civil War ironclad USS Monitor sank on New Years Eve 1862 in a gale off Cape Hatteras. It's remains were discovered in 1974, 16 miles offshore and 240 feet deep. The hull has deteriorated noticeably in the short time since then. Beginning in 2000 the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has implemented plans to document, preserve, and protect the wreck site, and to recover some key artifacts. Instrumental in this process is the on-going development of an interactive, Web-based GIS, using georeferenced data gathered by the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute's manned submersible Johnson Sea Link.
Oxley, Ian. 2002. "Scapa Flow and the Protection and Management of Scotland's Historic Military Shipwrecks." Antiquity, vol. 76,
no. 293, September 2002, p. 862-868.
According to the author, Maritime Archaeology in the UK has been minimally developed, and shipwrecks, especially historical ones, have been neglected. Recently the wrecks of the German High Seas Fleet in Scapa Flow have been reclassified to come under the terms of the UK's Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. These were dozens of ships captured at the end of World War I and scuttled by their German crew while interred in Scapa Flow. Scapa Flow is a semi-enclosed area between several of the largest Orkney Islands off the north coast of Scotland. Despite decades of salvage, treasure hunting, and bad North Sea weather, there are still seven wrecks of major warships remaining with significant historical, archaeological, and tourism (recreational diving) value. In order to develop better management plans, the author has established a base map and GIS database called ScapaMAP. He hopes to use this to address the issues of preservation, environmental concerns (leaking oil), the wishes of survivor groups, and future archaeological studies.
Pitis, Mike. 2007. "Mapping an Underwater World." Archaeology, vol. 60, no. 1, January/February 2007, p. 30-34.
For decades the shallow water along continental margins have been ignored by most archaeologists except for the excavations of shipwrecks. They considered the seafloor exposed by lower sea levels during the last Ice Ages as transitory at best, with human habitation limited to temporary camps as they fished or passed through these "land bridges" to more desirable habitats. It was assumed that any organic and cultural material would have long since disappeared. Lately some archaeologists have realized that these now-submerged landscapes would have existed for considerable periods of time, allowing flora and fauna to flourish. This would also allow for the long-term settlement by humans, especially along ancient river beds that are the extensions of the rivers of today. The search for and study of these "paleolandscapes" under the English Channel and North Sea is introduced and summarized in this article. The author emphasizes the cutting-edge technology being used to integrate the data and research in various GIS systems to map out how the rivers of Great Britain and northern Europe continued out to sea, locate study areas, and to recreate these landscapes in 3-D. These include the production of a 3-D animation of the Arun River system off West Sussex, Great Britain, by Wessex Archaeology, and the interactive true 3-D data visualizations at the University of Birmingham's HP VISTA facility (see "Seabed Prehistory", and "3D Siesmics..." annotated in Uncredited Web Articles, below). Much of the data are being provided by the industries putting these potential archaeological sites at risk, especially the oil industry and aggregate dredgers.
Porcasi, Paul, Judith F. Porcasi, and Collin McNeill. 1999. "Early Holocene Coastlines of the California Bight: The Channel Islands
as First Visited by Humans." Pacific Coast Archaeological Society Quarterly, vol. 35, nos. 2&3, Spring & Summer 1999,
The authors calculated sea levels for the California coastline and the Channel Islands during the early Holocene in order to approximate what the earliest human visitors would have encountered. They reconstructed the shorelines for 12,000 years ago as the Pleistocene ended (-61.5 meters below present sea level), and for 10,000 years ago when the first humans arrived (-34 meters below present sea level). After tracing those depths on NOAA charts they transferred the information to a GIS. Using basic analyses they calculated island areas and distances between them and the ancient mainland shore and compared them to the present. GIS also allowed them to adjust scales as necessary while maintaining accuracy, as well as to produce maps showing how the shorelines changed.
This article describes the use of 3-D seismic data in a GIS by the University of Birmingham, UK, to provide locations of potential environmental and cultural deposits under the North Sea. The data was extracted from over 60 industrial seismic surveys that were converted from vertical to horizontal slices in a GIS. This information was used to recreate the patterns of the ancient rivers in 3-D at the University of Birmingham's HP Visual and Spatial Technology Centre (HP VISTA) on a giant 12-foot-wide screen. The use of electronic polarizing glasses allows true 3-D viewing of the data, and a hand-held tracker provides 3-D interactivity with the data.
This is on-going Institute of Nautical Archaeology (INA) excavation off the coast of Turkey, not far from the shipwreck at Tektaş Burnu (see Carlson (2003) above). In this case, it is a Roman wreck of the 1st or 2nd century BC that was apparently transporting 8 sections of a single marble column and a Doric capital, 5 to 5.5 feet in diameter and totaling over 30 feet tall if assembled. While using the digital photogrammetric technique pioneered in the excavation of the Tektaş Burnu site, the excavation crew has switched from their in-house GIS to Site Recorder from 3H Consulting Ltd., which is a GIS designed specifically for marine survey and archaeological operations.
The Mary Rose was King Henry VIII's flagship, which sank off Portsmouth, UK, in 1545 while defending England from a French armada. Part of the ship was excavated between 1979 and 1982. The rest was endangered by planned channel work into Portsmouth Harbour, and it was excavated from 2003 to 2005. They used 3H Consulting's Site Recorder GIS for mapping, recording, and for decision making information. An Acoustical Positioning System connected to the GIS was used to track vessels and divers and display their positions on the site plan in real time.
One of the paleolandscape areas mentioned above (see Pitis (2007) above) was the Arun River off the coast of West Sussex, Great Britain, studied by Wessex Archaeology. Their research shows that these ancient river valleys still exist, filled with silt, and how they flowed independent of the topography of the modern seabed. This website describes in detail how they used GIS to study the area and create their digital 3-D animation. This short movie visualizes what the Arun River may have looked like 8,000 years ago, with the plant life along the shore based on information gleaned from sediment cores.