What is Shipwreck Weekend?

Each spring, the Nautical Archaeology Program (NAP) of the Department of Anthropology at Texas A&M University, along with its affiliated institutions, hosts "Shipwreck Weekend." This annual event is designed to promote the various projects of the program, as well as to inform the general public of aspects of nautical archaeology. Visitors are invited to explore nautical archaeology and learn about the ongoing research into ships and shipboard life at Texas A&M University!


Tracing the Fate of Empires: Roman and Islamic Shipwrecks at Caesarea Maritima, Israel

Lecture by Dr. John Hale, University of Louisville

In the first century B.C., Caesar Augustus sent Roman engineers to construct a gigantic artificial harbor for his ally, King Herod the Great of Judea. That great harbor, called Caesarea Maritima, became an important political and economic site of the ancient world, and an important and unique site for archaeologists today. The unique construction of this harbor has been the focus of many studies because of its many singularities. The immense breakwaters were constructed of the hydraulic “pozzolana” concrete, which filled the remains of wooden caissons. The construction of these caissons has remained for archaeologists to study today. 

In recent years, wrecks of two wooden warships have been discovered in the ancient Roman harbor at Caesarea Maritima, Israel.  The earlier ship, with its cargo of newly minted coins and scrap bronzes, sank at the time of the Roman Empire’s notorious “Third Century Crisis”, while the more recent wreck was an Islamic vessel from Fatimid Egypt with a large consignment of gold dinars.  These “treasure wrecks” provide snapshots of two ancient empires responding to crises – ranging from military threats to natural disasters – that threatened their stability, and perhaps even their continued existence. Dr. John R. Hale, an underwater archaeologist at the University of Louisville, will present an overview of these extraordinary finds, and describe his own participation in the scientific work of recovering and documenting the artifacts.



Saturday, April 18th, 10:30 am in Architecture Building B Geren Auditorium, Room 101



Shipwreck Weekend is a non-profit event funded by the Department of Anthropology, the Center for Maritime Archaeology and Conservation, and the Institute of Nautical Archaeology.


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