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Nautical Archaeology Timeline
1663: Hans Albrecht von Treileben and Andreas Peckell obtain salvage rights to the Vasa and began the first commercial use of the diving bell while the salvaging cannons.
1797: Klingert's diving suit. This apparatus is the earliest to be called a diving suit . It is made waterproof leather and consists of a coat and pants. The helmet has a small porthole. The diving suit is linked to a turret with an air reservoir.
1837 German August Siebe develops a simple copper helmet, supplied with air by a surface pump
1839: Seibe's diving suit is utilized during recovery of the British ship HMS Royal George. The warship sank in sixty-five feet of water in 1783. During the salvage divers suffered from decompression sickness.
1855 Cabirol's diving suit, Similar to August Siebe's diving suit, Cabirol's helmet has with four portholes as well as air intake with a hose that is joined close to the ear. The new apparatus also has a valve that allowed manual adjustment, and a hose, known as a whistle.
1865: Benoit Rouquayrol a French mining engineer and Denayrouse, a naval lieutenant, patent the aerophore. This apparatus allows divers to breathing underwater. The aerophore is the predecessor of contemporary scuba equipment. It is made of a steel tank filled with compressed that is air carried on a diver's back, connected through a valve sequence to a mouthpiece.
1872: The first official expedition to investigate the underwater world. A British ship, Challenger is fully equipped to gather scientific information from the world's ocean depths.
1912: The 'unsinkable', luxurious Titanic hits an iceberg and sinks 12,690 beneath the waves.
1917: The Mark V Diving Helmet is debuted by the United States of Construction and Repair. Safer and more reliable than any of its predecessors this diving apparatus is used extensively in WW2 salvage operations.
1930: an American ex-aviator living in southern France Guy Gilpatric, first uses rubber goggles with glass lenses for skin diving. By the mid-1930s, masks, fins, and snorkels are commonly used.
1933: Louis de Corlieu patents diving fins.
1943: French navel officer Jacques-Yves Cousteau helped to invent the 'aqualung' a device that automatically supplies air to divers from bottles strapped to their backs
1946: Cousteau's Aqua-Lung is commercially marketed in France.
1948: For the first time the aqualung was used for nautical archaeology. Mahdia is important to the history of nautical archaeology for many reasons. When it was first discovered the artifacts that could be moved or seen were taken from the site. In 1948 Cousteau came again to Mahdia where he carried out a site survey and salvaged some pieces of wood that included patterns of copper nails. .
1956: Franzén locates the Vasa and begins excavation.
1960: George Bass excavates the Bronze Age wreck at Cape Gelidonya. The excavation of this wreck set new standards in nautical archaeology. According to world renown nautical archaeologist, Jon Adams, Director, Centre for Maritime Archaeology Graduate program coordinator at the University of Southampton "Before Gelidonya archaeologists were content to accompany teams of divers who had little if any archaeological training, or sit on the surface while the 'real' divers did the work. They also mistakenly assumed that archaeology under water was obviously going to be very difficult and that standards would therefore be lower. George didn't accept this. First of all he learnt to dive so he could direct the excavation himself. He also made no concession to the fact that the excavation was underwater. He reasoned that even though he and his team may only be able to spend twenty minutes at a time working on the site, there was absolutely no reason (and no professional justification) why that twenty minutes work should not be carried out to the same standards as on land. He proved his point. For the first time an excavation was carried out that would satisfy any of today's professional codes of ethics. The project had been designed to answer research questions, meticulous recording was made on the seabed prior to objects being removed, accurate plans were drawn, publication was prompt, no material was sold but all ended up in a publicly accessible collection in a museum. True all these things had been done before *individually* but George was the first person to put the whole package together. This was a real philosophical as well as a methodological turning point. "
1965: Excavation of the Mary
Rose, a 16th century warship built between 1509 and 1511. This nautical
archaeology venture was the biggest underwater excavation project so far in
terms of the amount of material recovered and the number of people involved.
24,000 dives were made totaling eleven working years on the seabed. The
Mary Rose was one of the first ships able to fire a broadside, and was a favorite
of King Henry VIII. After a long and successful career, she sank accidentally
during an engagement with the French fleet in 1545.
1985: Robert Ballard and French divers locate the RMS Titanic with a remote controlled camera attached to the main ship. Woods Holeleads the United States\French team. The Titanic was the largest and most lavish ship of her day. Broken into to pieces, she is located at a depth of 12,500 ft.
1973: The Institute of Nautical Archaeology is founded as the American Institute of Nautical Archaeology in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The society was founded with the intent of being a nonprofit organization that would discover facts about history’s seafarers. 1981: At Port Royal, Some Institute crewmen first use the prototype of the SHARPS system, a specially designed sonic measuring device that allows users to gather exact proportions with little or no visibility or at extreme depths.
1984: George Bass and his team begin excavation Uluburun, the richest archaeological find to date.
1995: After 119 years in the water the Hunley, first submarine to sink a ship in battle, was finally found during a joint venture with the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology, NUMA located the submarine.
1998: The non-profit organization, The Society for Underwater Exploration -
made its first public appearance on October 28, 1998 at an international press
conference in Alexandria, Egypt. At the press conference, which was held in
order to announce the society's founding, Franck Goddio revealed the latest
discoveries. The center of the discoveries was of course Cleopatra's Palace in
the ancient city of Alexandria. Also at the press conference were reports of the
excavations of Napoleon Bonaparte's fleet in Aboukir.
photographs courtesy of the INA and Vasa Museum