BOOK REVIEW | Dead Man’s Chest & Citizen Science in Maritime Archaeology

These two specialised but nevertheless very interesting books should be read successively, as their subjects, but not their foci, are closely related and their ideas are closely linked.

Maritime archaeology really only came of age after the Second World War, but it has since become a very popular subject that has inspired vast amounts of voluntary “citizen science” research contributions that have proved to be very valuable.

While much such archaeology has been inspired by and occurred in the eastern Mediterranean, thanks to the pioneering efforts of the late Professor George F. Bass, the profession of maritime archaeology, if it can be so-called, has developed rapidly elsewhere in Europe, North America, the Middle East, South-East Asia, and Australia. Much has and can be learnt from it and, fortunately, much of what has been discovered has been preserved in important museums such as Turqui’s Bodrum Museum of Maritime Archaeology, where many of Professor Bass’s discoveries reside.

These books, however, focus on eastern North America and the Caribbean. There is much less recorded history there than in the Mediterranean Sea, and that makes interesting subjects of examination somewhat scarcer. Nevertheless, the seventeenth and eighteenth century pirates of the Caribbean and the mariners involved in the American War of Independence and Civil War provide considerable grist for the archaeological mill.

How that has happened and is developing is what these books are all about. The subject is fascinating for almost all of our readers since they are practically universally interested in maritime history. Hopefully, these books might inspire further efforts in this important new discipline.

Dead Man’s Chest: Exploring the Archaeology of Piracy

Editors: Russell K. Skowronek & Charles R. Ewen

Citizen Science in Maritime Archaeology: The Power of Public Engagement

Editors: Della A. Scott-Ireton, Jennifer E. Jones, & Jason T. Raupp

Available from The University Press of Florida, Gainesville, USA.


Neil Baird

Co-founder and former Editor-in-Chief of Baird Maritime and Work Boat World magazine, Neil has travelled the length and breadth of this planet in over 40 years in the business. He knows the global work boat industry better than anyone.