MTAQ Marine Teachers Association of Queensland

ABN: 70 652 509 393

P.O. Box 1258
Coolum Beach Qld 4573

Publicity Officer

Joline Lalime


Craig Reid
Meridan State College
07 5490 2666

Maritime Archaeology - James Cook University

Phone: (07) 4781 4182

Summary of presentation to the Marine Teachers Conference, September 2008 Dr Bill Jeffery (Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, James Cook University) The presentation introduced the discipline of maritime archaeology and the type of work implemented by maritime archaeologists. Maritime archaeology is regarded as the systematic study of maritime material remains and the associated communities, through investigating such sites and activities as ships, shipwrecks, navigation, commerce, marine exploitation, maritime industries, trade, passengers and crew. Maritime archaeology should not be confused or included with any activity that includes commercial exploitation such as the salvage of precious metals, coins and gems. While these operations may employ archaeological techniques and archaeologists, their aim is to sell the material, thus splitting-up collections that can no longer be studied or have no ongoing benefit for the community at large. The presentation went through a range of sites, some overseas, such as Mary Rose (wrecked 1545); Vasa (1628) and Titanic (1912); and others in Australia, such as the four Dutch shipwrecks off Western Australia (1629-1727), and Pandora (1791) that have contributed in the development of maritime archaeology since the 1960s. It was acknowledged that Australia and much of the world’s indigenous inhabitants have lengthy and ongoing associations with the sea, lakes and rivers and need to be included when talking about maritime archaeology. In terms of Australia’s colonial heritage, there are many maritime sites around the coast, along rivers, and under the water that can play a role in revealing this, as well as our ongoing maritime cultural identity. This includes sites associated with its colonial navy, World War I, and World War II that includes HMAS Sydney (recently found off Western Australia) and AHS Centaur (yet to be found and located off Queensland). It was discussed during the presentation that maritime archaeologists can work for Federal and State government agencies implementing ‘public archaeology’ programs; consultant maritime archaeologists who work on projects, many associated with mitigating the impact of some type of development or industry; and those working with Universities where teaching and further research are the major focuses. Maritime archaeologists can work with many other researchers in a collaborative manner and employ a range of techniques and equipment, from simple tape measures to ‘high-tech’ remote operated machinery. Maritime archaeologists can also employ a number of approaches in how they investigate sites and communities. Some of the sites and communities studied; the techniques and equipment used; and the approaches used in maritime archaeology investigations are covered in a field school implemented by James Cook University on their Orpheus Island Research Station (for university undergraduates), See: and by the Australasian Institute for Maritime Archaeology (AIMA) as part of the AIMA/NAS (Nautical Archaeology Society training program which is available to divers and non-divers irrespective of their education, See: a list of courses at