Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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The Latest Underwater Discoveries

In recent years, for-profit underwater salvors have captured the public imagination, garnering breathless headlines announcing their recovery of "treasure" ships. But there's much more to the world of nautical exploration than the giddy promise of gold coins. Every field season, underwater archaeologists make extraordinary discoveries that expand our vision of humanity's past.

On the following pages, we highlight just a few of these ongoing underwater archaeology projects, from the recovery of a sixth-century B.C. Phoenician shipwreck, where excavators found a cargo that included elephant tusks and amber, to work on a 19th-century vessel in Oklahoma's Red River that has given archaeologists their first look at early steamship design.


Roman Stone Carrier
Kızılburun, Turkey

HMS Ontario
Lake Ontario, New York

Min of the Desert
The Red Sea, Egypt

Swink, Oklahoma

Corinthian Shipwrecks
Adriatic Sea, Albania

Submerged DNA
Chios, Greece

The Khan's Lost Fleet
Bach Dang River, Vietnam

Tristán de Luna's Ships
Pensacola Bay, Florida

Phoenician Wreck
Cartagena, Spain

Liman Tepe Harbor
Bay of Izmir, Turkey

In deciding which projects to feature, we canvassed several underwater archaeologists, and relied, in particular, on James Delgado, president of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology and a valued member of our editorial advisory board. For every story we selected, Delgado told us about 10 other equally fascinating underwater excavations. To delve even more deeply into the word of underwater history check out the University of Rhode Island's online Museum of Underwater Archaeology and the Institute of Nautical Archaeology's website.

—The Editors

  • Coming soon: Accounts of other extraordinary nautical discoveries, including a list of the most important underwater finds of the past 50 years

image Tips for Underwater Site-Seeing

Diving on an archaeological site is one of the great thrills of a lifetime. Here are a few commonsense guidelines to make sure that both you and the site remain safe.