Navigating the Temple of Doom: Shipboard Hazards for Archaeologists

Author(s): Nathaniel Howe

Year: 2014


Nautical archaeology is a field with numerous inherent dangers. Safety training for professionals focuses heavily on the hazards of diving--nitrogen narcosis, pulmonary gas embolisms, and the bends’--but the dangers posed by the ships themselves, sunk or afloat, receive comparatively little attention. To work safely, nautical archaeologists and maritime museum professionals need to be familiar with common hazards found aboard ships and how to mitigate these threats. Fire, sudden flooding, unstable structures, and impaling hazards are ever-present dangers. Now that ships of the 20th century are frequently the foci of archaeological studies, chemical hazards such as asbestos, mercury, and lead require greater awareness and training. Northwest Seaport in Seattle, USA, has been studying these hazards as the organization undertakes archaeological investigations of its vessels in preparation for major restoration work. Collaboration with modern maritime industry safety professionals has been key in developing Northwest Seaport’’s own safety training and procedures.

Cite this Record

Navigating the Temple of Doom: Shipboard Hazards for Archaeologists. Nathaniel Howe. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 437288)

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): SYM-72,07