Introduction

Shipwrecks can serve as time capsules. They can tell us much about changes in shipbuilding technique, developments in navigational science, as well as many other aspects of maritime history and culture. Furthermore, shipwrecks are often subject to changing interpretation as new data comes to light, as well as through the influence of contemporary cultural and political context. Above all, by examining sunken ships, we can learn much about the long-intwined history of the sea and society.

This website highlights 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 sea-borne 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, rivers, and seas.

We invite you to explore some of these shipwrecks and we hope to highlight some of the ways in which looking beyond the facts and figures of maritime disasters can help us explore the cultural, economic, and political history that lies submerged in the depths of the ocean.

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