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Maritime archaeology


Admission requirements

Bachelor’s degree obtained.


The identity of a country, a community, is built upon the knowledge of its own past. This notion has started to gain more and more recognition lately. Besides historical information, also the relics that are buried under the sediment form an important source of this past, at least when properly studied.

A large part of the material past in many countries can be found under water. The Netherlands is such a country. Which is not so strange: Dutch activities in the past are often connected with the sea and their (trading) connections with other nations.
Many other countries within Europe and beyond have a dominant maritime culture as well. This reflects on their cultural heritage resources. Maritime cultural heritage resources can be found on land as well as under water.

The ‘relation between man and water as a means of transport’ is visible in many places. Of course there are shipwrecks, but harbours, bridges and even warehouses are part of that same maritime story. Under water we can also find another archaeological resource: the sites that have been inundated with or without a maritime link, such as the prehistoric landscapes in the North Sea. Important questions related to economic or cultural developments of a country should not only be addressed and answered through the archaeological resources found on land, but also with the rich and often very well preserved resources underwater. In the Netherlands alone more than 60.000 locations are registered in our databases. However, this resource is still often neglected and only marginally included into archaeological studies.

This course will focus on the profession of maritime and underwater archaeology: the methods of research and the maritime and underwater cultural heritage resources. With a specific focus on the Netherlands as an example country, we will explore the maritime and underwater cultural resources in Europe and other parts of the world.
After explaining the methodology of archaeological research under water, we will explore the concept of the maritime landscape, the inundated landscape and shipwrecks and shipbuilding traditions from various parts of the world.

Course objectives

  • Understanding of the techniques and methodology of underwater and maritime archaeology;

  • Knowledge of the concept of maritime landscape;

  • Knowledge of the development of ship building traditions in North-Western Europe through time;

  • Understanding of boat building traditions in other parts of the world;

  • Knowledge of different researches executed in inundated areas.


Course schedule details can be found in the Master time schedule.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures;

  • Excursion.

Course load

The course load will be distributed as follows:

Assessment method

  • Written examination;

  • Assignment (essay).

All assessment deadlines (exams, retakes, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the examination schedule.

Reading list

To be handed out during class.


Registration for the course is not necessary, registration for the exam is mandatory. For instructions, see the Registration in uSis page.

Registration ‘Contractonderwijs’

All information (costs, registration, entry requirements etc.) for those who are interested in taking this course as a Contractstudent is on the Contractonderwijs Archeologie webpage (in Dutch).


For more information about this course, please contact drs. M.R. Manders.