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Adventures of a Maritime Archaeologist: Ocean Time Capsules

3 minutes

(male narrator) The way archaeology works is, oftentimes, it gives us information that isn't in a history book. In some cases, ancient cultures didn't write books. In others, that knowledge has been lost-- the books have been burned or disappeared. In other cases, archaeology talks about things or people who don't usually get into the books. Much of the history that was written was about men, about white men, about Europeans, about great explorers. You could hear about Columbus in the books, but what about the Spanish and Portuguese sailors and the others that lived and worked? What about the people out fishing on the water? What about children? What about women at sea? What about aspects we haven't heard about because we can't read that language, or those records are gone? That's the power of archaeology, and, in particular, of maritime archaeology, because, unlike sites on land, many ships sink to the bottom, and unless they're found, or a fisherman's net snags them, they're left alone, and they become almost like a time capsule for us to learn from. You would think that because the ocean is harsh-- cold, strong, with currents, full of salt-- that everything is eaten up, and, in time, things do go away. But what we're finding is, just like you have different climates on land, you have them in the ocean. In some cases, the water may be less salty. In the Baltic and Arctic, wooden ships are preserved. I swam into a wreck in the freezing Arctic. A book was sitting on the shelf that you could open and read. It had been on the bottom for nearly 70 years. Accessibility provided by the U.S. Department of Education.

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The climate of the ocean may not be as harsh as once thought. Maritime archaeologists are discovering well-preserved ship wrecks. These sites are providing information about cultures, technologies, and histories of past civilizations. Part of the "Adventures of a Maritime Archaeologist" series.

Media Details

Runtime: 3 minutes

Adventures of a Maritime Archaeologist
Episode 1
2 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Adventures of a Maritime Archaeologist
Episode 4
3 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Adventures of a Maritime Archaeologist
Episode 5
4 minutes
Grade Level: 9 - 12