The 1799 Siege of Acre: A Re-evaluation of the Historical and Archaeological Record

Author(s): Morgan Breene

Year: 2014


Napoleon’s failed siege of Acre, Israel in the spring of 1799 was a turning point in his eastern campaign. Had he succeeded in gaining control of the port, he would have been well-positioned to challenge Britain’s influence in the East. It was only through the assistance of the British naval commander Admiral William Sidney Smith that the city was able to withstand the siege; Smith kept up a constant bombardment of Napoleon’s position from his fleet for over two months. Understandably, underwater archaeologists have been eager to discover evidence of the siege in the port, but the task is complicated by the presence of wreckage from naval conflicts of the 1830s and 1840, and also the persistence of certain misinformation about how Smith conducted Acre’s defense. Using historical maps, letters, drawings, and other documents, this poster presents a new interpretation of the 1799 siege of Acre, and introduces two recently-discovered shipwrecks, one or both of which may have sank as a result of Smith’s strategy.

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The 1799 Siege of Acre: A Re-evaluation of the Historical and Archaeological Record. Morgan Breene. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 437424)

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Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): POS-99,13