Shipwrecks can serve as time capsules. They can tell us much about changes in shipbuilding technology, developments in navigational science, as well as about many other aspects of maritime history and culture. However, our interpretations of shipwrecks also continue to evolve as new data comes to light and as our understanding of history is reshaped by current cultural and political context. By examining sunken ships, we can learn much about the long-entwined history of the sea and society.
This website features a series of shipwreck case studies ranging in date from antiquity to the late 20th century and in geographical distribution from the Indian Ocean to the Great Lakes. These ships represent a wide swath of maritime history, however, they are just a tiny sampling of the thousands of vessels which have come to rest in the depths of the world’s oceans, lakes, and seas.
We invite you to explore some of these wrecks. And, as you learn more about these vessels, we will highlight some of the ways in which attention to maritime disasters can help us explore the cultural, economic, and political history that lies submerged in the watery depths.