The taphonomy of historic shipwreck sites: implications for heritage management


If we wish to understand the surviving shipwreck record and to inform strategies of heritage, management and conservation an improved knowledge of the variable impact of marine physical processes is required. I am approaching this problem at a range of scales from full wreck to individual artefact scale, through a combination of bathymetric survey, diver monitoring and physical modelling in a controlled laboratory environment. The first phase of this work has involved the integration of time-lapse studies (months to years) of 8 shipwreck sites in a range of oceanographic conditions (tidally dominated, wave dominated and combined flow regimes). Despite having had decades to hundreds of years to reach equilibrium these wreck sites still exhibit metres of change in bedlevel change over periods of months. Preliminary results suggest these sites adhere to predictable patterning derived from the initial physical models. To determine the reproducibility of these results a much larger swath and oceanographic datasets must be drawn from. I argue that a site specific understanding of physical site formation processes will enhance the protection that we can provide for these dynamic sites.

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The taphonomy of historic shipwreck sites: implications for heritage management. Amelia Astley, Justin Dix, Fraser Sturt, Charlotte Thompson. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 436959)

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PaperId(s): SYM-41,06