I am Lucy Blue, director of the Centre for Maritime Archaeology at the University of Southampton and one of the educators on the Shipwrecks and Submerged Worlds course. My experience in maritime archaeology extends from maritime ethnography, coastal landscapes, harbours and geomorphology, to underwater survey and excavation, coastal heritage management and preservation and media presentation.
The sea and the world’s coastlines have always been a great lure for me which is why being a maritime archaeologist and exploring how humans have and continue to interact with this fascinating environment is possibly the perfect job.
My roots are in Near Eastern archaeology and harbours and maritime networks of the eastern Mediterranean particularly during the Late Bronze Age. More recently I have explored harbours and connectivity in the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf spanning the Roman through to the late Historic period. I have conducted and directed numerous coastal surveys and ancient harbour projects in the region including in parts of Alexandria and along the Red Sea coast of Egypt, Eritrea and Oman. I have published over fifty publications that report on the results of this work.
I am also a self-confessed ‘boat nerd’ particularly fascinated in small traditional working boats that operated around the world’s coasts both past and present. For more than ten years I have recorded boats in the western Indian Ocean region, noting their form and construction and how this changed over time. I am also interested in the role they play within the maritime societies that build and use them.
I like to work in collaboration with colleagues in the countries that I conduct research. After a long history of collaboration with the University of Alexandria, Egypt, in 2009, having secured a European Union TEMPUS grant, I helped establish the first Centre for Maritime Archaeology and Underwater Cultural Heritage (CMAUCH) in the Arab world within the University of Alexandria. Subsequently, further collaborative initiatives have been undertaken in my role as director of the Maritime Archaeology Stewardship Trust. MAST aims to build capacity for maritime archaeology and coastal heritage management relating to training, education and resource enhancement in the Arab region, with activities to date in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Qatar and Oman.
I am also a HSE qualified commercial diver and have been involved in a number of shipwreck survey and excavation projects. Recently I directed a three-year collaborative research project in Montenegro, the Montenegro Maritime Archaeological Research Project. It was funded by the Headley Trust, supported by the Montenegro Ministry of Culture and co-directed by the Bar Museum. This three- year collaborative project aimed to train students of archaeology in Montenegro and provide opportunities for Southampton Masters students to participate in underwater survey and excavation. This project was completed in 2013 and is currently being written up for publication as a co-edited monograph.
Besides active research projects, teaching and academic publications, I have a very keen interest in communicating the subject of maritime archaeology to a wider audience. In 2007-2008 I was one of four expert presenters on the BBC/Discovery co-funded eight-part documentary series ‘Oceans’. Subsequently I have undertaken further presenting work for Channel 4 and National Geographic and am currently working on a one-hour documentary on Egypt’s Sunken City for BBC2. I am a lifelong supporter and current Vice President of the international Nautical Archaeology Society, a founder member of the UNESCO UniTwin Maritime Archaeological Network, and have recently been appointed Special Adviser for the Honor Frost Foundation.
During this course I will expand on some of the themes highlighted above – ancient seafaring, trade and harbours and of course further explore the threats currently faced by the world’s maritime and underwater cultural heritage.