Continental shelf archaeology: where next?

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Publication details

Title of host publicationSubmerged Prehistory
DatePublished - 2011
Pages311-331
Number of pages21
PublisherOxbow
Place of PublicationOxford
EditorsJ. Benjamin, G. Bonsall, K. Pickard, A. Fischer
Original languageEnglish
ISBN (Print)9781842174180

Abstract

Until very recently the case for systematic exploration of the now submerged landscapes of the continental shelf was taken seriously by rather few mainstream archaeologists, and advocacy in support of underwater prehistory was usually regarded as evidence of enthusiasm for diving, hopeless optimism with regard to the prospects of discovering useful information, or indulgence in fanciful speculation. Developments in the technology of underwater exploration, the steady accumulation of fi nds, the quality of preservation of organic materials, and above all the realization that coastal regions for most of human prehistory are now submerged and most likely played a key role in many of the most important developments in prehistory, are slowly shifting the climate of opinion. Th e question now is not whether we should undertake underwater exploration, but how we should go about it. Here, there are still powerful inhibitions and uncertainties, especially when it comes to the deeper areas of the shelf and to the systematic discovery of archaeological sites. Large-scale international collaboration, engagement with industrial and commercial partners, development of purposeful and realistic strategies of exploration, a new and growing generation of trained practitioners, an expanding knowledge base about the taphonomy of underwater landscapes and archaeological remains, and the progressive extension of experience from land to shallow water, and from shallow to deeper water, are all foreseeable ingredients of the next phase of investigation.

Bibliographical note

© 2011, Oxbow Books. Reproduced in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy.

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