The Nautical Archaeology Society has been a champion of best practice in archaeology under water for over two decades. By outlining the principles and providing practical guidance, this book will enable readers to make the most of their involvement with the rich underwater cultural heritage that helped shape the world in which we live – and to do so in a responsible way.
Underwater Archaeology: The NAS Guide to Principles and Practice is comprehensive and authoritative. It contains extensive advice and information, including how to get involved, basic principles, essential techniques and approaches, project planning and execution, and publishing and presenting results.
Ever since the original invaluable NAS Handbook went out of print some years ago, an update has been eagerly awaited. Fully illustrated with over 100 drawings and new colour graphics, this new edition includes additional chapters on geophysics, historical research, photography and video, monitoring and maintenance, and conservation.
The Society has also taken the opportunity to ensure that the structure and content of this handbook is mirrored by the courses in its widely acclaimed, internationally recognised training programme in nautical archaeology, thereby enhancing the value of both.
Why it was written?
The original Archaeology Underwater: The NAS Guide to Principles and Practice was first published in 1992. It was commissioned to help address a scarcity of information about “how to undertake archaeological work underwater while maintaining acceptable standards” (Dean et al, 1992:2).
As well as explaining fundamental archaeological principles, this book provides a general introduction to archaeology under water, detailing techniques and practices as they are applied in an underwater context. It provides the tools appropriate to tackle a variety of sites, in different environments and emphasises that archaeology is not just a set of techniques – it is shaped by fundamental principles and theoretical parameters. While this book is a comprehensive source of practical information, it is not a complete reference book and will not transform the reader into an underwater archaeologist. It aims to provide an awareness of the responsibilities that go with any form of fieldwork while outlining what is involved in achieving an acceptable standard of archaeological work in what can often be a challenging physical environment.
In the intervening years since the publication of the first edition, while the basic principles have remained the same, technological developments have resulted in new and improved archaeological techniques. Meanwhile, the World Wide Web and satellite television have helped take underwater archaeology into peoples’ homes, feeding what appears to be an insatiable public appetite for all things associated with the past. In addition, links between countries with different approaches to archaeological investigation have strengthened and as a result the toolbox of techniques for archaeological work under water has grown.
In the light of such developments, an update to the text and graphics of the original book seems timely. The result is this long-awaited second edition of what is popularly referred to as ‘The NAS Handbook’.
The body that eventually became the Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS) was originally incorporated and registered as a charity in 1972 under the name (The) Nautical Archaeology Trust Limited. The Trust was reconstituted in 1986 as the Nautical Archaeology Society, mainly to oversee the production of the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology (IJNA), whose first volume had been published in 1971, and more generally to further research. The Society is committed to the research, conservation and preservation of maritime cultural heritage. The NAS is based in the United Kingdom but has a significant international profile. Membership is made up of a wide range of people who wish to promote and be involved in the preservation of their coastal and underwater heritage, in its broadest sense.
This second edition: Underwater Archaeology, introduces several new chapters such as Photography, Legislation and Conservation. Additional chapters reflect significant developments or new approaches particularly with respect to Project Planning, Safety on Archaeological Sites, Historical Research, Monitoring and Maintenance and Geophysics.
Each individual component of this book was written by someone who is an expert in his/her field. The production of this second edition has been a long iterative process involving many people, most of them members of the Nautical Archaeology Society. Text from the original book has been modified, supplemented and, where appropriate, replaced. This book therefore owes its existence to everybody involved in the production of this and all previous versions (please see list of contributors at beginning of book). The NAS would like to acknowledge all contributors with grateful thanks.
The Nautical Archaeology Society would like to introduce the reader to the real underwater treasure – a rich cultural heritage that has helped shape the world in which we live today. By outlining the principles and practices of maritime archaeology, this book will enable people to make informed and responsible decisions about how to get the most from their involvement with maritime archaeology above or under water.
Contributing Authors
Jonathan Adams, BA DPhil FSA MIFA (University of Southampton)
Marc-Andre Bernier, BA MA (Parks Canada)
Lucy Blue, BA DPhil (University of Southampton)
Amanda Bowens, BA MA
Martin Dean, BSc MIFA (Hon) FSA (University of St Andrews)
Justin Dix, BSc PhD (University of Southampton)
Joe Flatman, MA PhD PIFA (University College London)
Craig Forrest, B.Comm LLB LLM PGCE PhD (University of Queensland)
Damian Goodburn, BA PhD AIFA (Museum of London)
Alexzandra Hildred, BA MIFA FSA (Mary Rose Trust)
Peter Holt (3H Consulting Ltd)
Kester Keighley, MSc
Stuart Leather, MSc (Wessex Archaeology)
Gordon Le Pard, BSc (Dorset County Council)
Colin Martin, PhD FRHistS FSA Scot MIFA MAAIS (University of St Andrews)
Paula Martin, BA Dip Class Arch PhD FSA Scot MIFA (NAS)
Douglas McElvogue, PhD MIFA FSA Scot (University of Sussex)
Sean McGrail, FSA MA PhD DSc MIFA Master Mariner (University of Southampton)
Gustav Milne, MPhil FSA (University College London)
David Parham, BA MSc MIFA RPA (Bournemouth University)
Leslie Perkins McKewan, MSc PIFA
Rory Quinn, PhD (University of Coleraine)
Julie Satchell, BA MA MIFA (Hampshire & Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology)
Graham Scott, AIFA (Wessex Archaeology)
Amanda Sutherland, BSc ACR
Christopher Underwood, BEd MA (University of Buenos Aires)
Steve Waring, BSc
Michael Williams, LLB (University of Wolverhampton)
What do the experts think?
“An essential vade mecum for anyone interested in archaeology under water, whether aspiring fieldworker or armchair enthusiast. This book distills a generation of practical experience in a concise and user-friendly form.”
Colin Martin,
University of St Andrews
“This long-awaited update of the NAS handbook is a gold mine of practical advice. It is a must-have, must-read and must-reread for everyone practicing nautical archaeology”
George Lambrick,
Chair Nautical Archaeology Society
“Indispensable for anyone in underwater archaeology. Even the most experienced will find much of value in it. How I wish it had been available when I began half a century ago!”
George Bass,
Texas A&M University
Order information
Paperback – Members 19.99 / Non-members 24.99
Limited Edition Hardback – Members 50.00 / Non-members 60.00
(prices in pounds sterling)
For more information or to order contact your course tutor.
The Nautical Archaeology Society, Fort Cumberland, Fort Cumberland Road, Portsmouth PO4 9LD, UK.