Howard Zinn that once said that if we did not know our history we would have to trust our politicians. Archaeology
is the study of human cultures through their material remains and environmental data, and a good complement to
history. Historians try to understand what happened long ago from what people say happened. And it is easy to imagine
how sometimes witnesses were too close to the events to be able to convey a fair account. Other times, often times,
there are plenty of incentives not to write the truth as we know it. Winston Churchill said that history is written
by the victors. Most people prefer not to leave behind full accounts of embarrassing stories and situations for
This course is an overview of the history of North America seen through its
watercraft. It is impossible to imagine the history of the United States without ships and boats, from Columbus'
caravels and 'naos' to the Mayflower, four or five generations later, or the merchantmen that supplied the thirteen colonies, the warships
that won the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, the magnificent ships of the Golden Age of Sail, or the ships,
boats, and submarines of the Civil War.
The course is divided into two sections. The first five lectures are an introduction
to nautical archaeology, explaining basic concepts and introducing some vocabulary. The last two lectures of this
section entail a discussion of the importance of nautical and underwater cultural heritage, the problems of its
conservation and study, and the differences between archaeologists and treasure hunters. The second section consists
of an overview of the watercraft used in the North American continent upon Christopher Columbus's arrival, the
ships and boats brought by the Europeans, and their development from the 16th to the 19th centuries.
Since ANTH318 is an elective course I expect all students to enjoy it, come
to class, participate, and take the opportunity to learn and think for pure pleasure.
I do not believe any students will die poor and lonely if they do not master
the contents of my ANTH318 - Nautical Archaeology of the Americas. However, the course is an opportunity to make
cross-curricular connections among many educational disciplines.
My main goal in class is to emphasize Bertrand Russell's idea that "what
is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite."
The study of the past is always tainted with our particular beliefs on the
subject under analysis. Independent, logical reasoning is our only hope to form a fair idea about things that happened