The MIT Deep Water Archaeology Research Group develops methodology and technology for shipwreck exploration in the world's deep oceans. Led by Professor David A. Mindell of the Program in Science, Technology and Society, DeepArch's scholars represent a wide range of disciplines, including archaeology, history, economics, geology, oceanography, and various branches of engineering.
Rigorous education and training of qualified scientists and engineers is critical as we develop the new field of deep water archaeology. It is necessarily collaborative, as many disciplines must be synthesized to form a comprehensive program. DeepArch often partners with leading institutes, laboratories, and universities around the world. Through public seminars, graduate-level classes, and conferences DeepArch brings together scientists and engineers to forge the discipline's theoretical underpinnings. DeepArch also provides research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students. Current student laboratory research includes the development of a high-frequency, narrow beam subbottom profiling sonar, high precision navigation sonar, studies of precision robotic vehicle control, and the design and construction of autonomous underwater vehicles to meet archaeology's specific critical requirements.
Practical application of theoretical understanding and laboratory research is an important DeepArch component. Team members go to sea each year to participate in a variety of projects. Past expeditions include acoustic investigations of the Civil War submarine H.L. Hunley and the gun turret of U.S.S. Monitor; Autonomous Underwater Vehicle surveys of an early modern wreck in the Aegean Sea; an expedition that discovered eight ancient shipwrecks near Skerki Bank in the Mediterranean Sea; exploration of four Byzantine-era wrecks in the Black Sea; and relocation of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Yorktown, sunk in the Battle of Midway.
The interdisciplinary, international
research conducted in the world's deep oceans and seas promises to contribute
fundamentally to our knowledge of the human past. Shipwrecks can provide
tangible information on trade, exchange, cultural contact and societal
development from the earliest peoples. Deep water sites previously inaccessible
to scientific inquiry are now within our reach. The MIT DeepArch research
group is dedicated to developing the technologies, methods, and scientific
skills necessary for this research.