Archaeology Odyssey 6:6, November/December 2003

Editors’ Page: Why Not Work with Salvors?

The British have the right idea

By Hershel Shanks

Archaeology Odyssey

Instead of grousing, marine archaeologists should welcome a golden opportunity—literally. They could be teaming up with salvors who now know how to retrieve treasures that would make Midas salivate. Instead, the only thing the archaeologists seem to do is cavil and complain, taking a holier-than-thou attitude rather than boldly grasping the nettle.

With modern sonar equipment, salvors can now locate a wreck a half mile or more below the sea’s surface. When they get the right kind of bleep, they bring in their high-resolution sonar. A tethered robot with bright lights and a video camera can then go down for an even closer look, sending signals up to a monitor on the salvor’s ship.

Deepwater exploration often takes years and costs millions of dollars, and it may or may not produce results. It is a venture far beyond the capacities of almost all professional marine archaeologists.

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