The proceedings of the symposium held at Philipps-Universitat Marburg in June 2011 have now been published.  The contents include:

  • Foreword
  • Abdelhamid, Selma: Phoenician Shipwrecks of the 8th to the 6th century B.C. – Overview and Interim Conclusions
  • Blot, Maria Luísa Pinheiro: Ancient environmental contexts and Phoenician maritime shelters in the southeastern part of the Iberian Peninsula: Portugal
  • Friedman, Zaraza: The Phoenician Hippos Figurehead. Preserved Tradition and Types of Ship
  • Galasso, Mario: Testa scolpita in trachite da Porto Conte – Santa Imbenia, Alghero (SS) Giardina, Baldassare Fari fenici et punici: fonti ed evidenze archeologiche
  • Haggi, Arad: Phoenician Deepwater Harbours: Atlit as a Case Study
  • Hermanns, Marcus Heinrich: Frühe Erztransporte zwischen der Iberischen Halbinsel und Ibiza
  • Pappa, Eleftheria: Who’s the Phoenician on the Atlantic? Disentangling Seafaring from Colonization in Portugal and Morocco
  • Semaan, Lucy: New Insights into the Iron Age Timber Trade in Lebanon
  • Tilley, Alec: Phoenician Triremes and other craft

To order, please contact the Archaologisches Seminar at Philipps-Universitat Marburg

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The Pedersen Family Grant for Student Research

The Red Sea Institute for Anthropological Research is pleased to announce a granting opportunity for students studying aspects of the human interaction with the Red Sea.

This privately-funded grant, administered by the institute, is open to all students studying at the master’s degree level in anthropology, archaeology, and ethnography. The grant is intended to aid students in their thesis research for travel and accommodations or other expenses related to their field, library, or museum research. The grant is not intended to cover costs for students to participate in other’s research projects.

All applications must be made via regular post or express mail and be post-marked no later than 15 December 2015. No electronic submissions will be considered.

The total grant amount will be US$500.00 (five hundred dollars).

For full details please visit

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The Red Sea Institute for Anthropological Research

red sea INSTITUTE logo 48 font left bevel text SMALL

After a couple of years of discussion with friends and colleagues, I created The Red Sea Institute for Anthropological Research in 2014 in Lansing, Michigan, USA as a private non-profit charitable organization under the 501 (c) (3) registration with the United States Internal Revenue Service.

Our purpose is to promote the scientific inquiry of the Red Sea and surrounding areas– focusing on the subjects of anthropology, archaeology, ethnography, and history–to further our knowledge of the zone and its peoples, to bring into better understanding the intercourse between Africa and Southwestern Asia from the earliest times into the present, and to provide opportunities for research.

Our goal is to increase mankind’s knowledge of Red Sea maritime activities of the past and present.

Our intent is to create a better understanding of the dynamics of intercultural maritime connections and exchange, the involved ship-building and engineering technologies, maritime exploitation strategies of coastal peoples and their environmental adaptability to arid coastal zones, as well as maritime migration from the prehistoric period into the modern era.

I use the term “anthropological” as in the US archaeology is considered part of anthropology, and also I am interested in other aspects of human culture in addition to those of the past. As such, the institute embraces cultural and ethnographic studies, and even history as it pertains to our understanding of the Red Sea region.

A journal for these studies is planned, as is a grant for student research.

Please visit our website at

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The Marsala Punic Warships: Reconsidering their Nature and the Function of the “Ram”

Denise Averdung and Ralph Pedersen are pleased to announce the publication of their article in the journal Skyllis concerning an evaluation of the so-called ram of the ships found off Marsala, Sicily by Honor Frost some four decades ago. The article includes the analysis of the two hulls from Marsala and the Marburg experiment in scale-model testing the feature in question.

A pdf of the article can be found here.

The Marburg Model

The Marburg Model

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The Marburg Survey in Saudi Arabia, 2013: Jeddah

This year our survey in Saudi Arabia concentrates on the approaches to Jeddah. The founding of this important harbor city is in dispute- some sources put it as early as the 7th century, and others in the 10th. Perhaps locating ancient shipwrecks, anchorages, and other underwater sites will help illuminate a solution.

The survey began yesterday and continues through 2 October with our staff, Marburg students, and staff from the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities.

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The Marburg Nautical Archaeology Survey in Saudi Arabia, September 2013

Dr. Rupert Brandmeier examines an amphora sherd.

Dr. Rupert Brandmeier examines an amphora sherd.

The Marburg Survey is pleased to announce that we have received funding for the next survey in September from the Saudi  Commission for Tourism and Antiquities.  This grant, a generous gift for which we are most grateful, covers all of our expenses for two weeks except for airfare.

Our September survey will concentrate on the area of Shoaibah, said to be the ancient harbor for Mecca, where it is known that a few ships of antiquity and the early Islamic period were wrecked. In addition to the underwater survey, we will be searching the shores of the sea and lagoons for signs of harbors and harborage activities.

Now the search for airfare!  We have already received a generous private donation toward this goal, but more is needed–particularly to get my well-deserving students into the field and under the sea.

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The Marburg Nautical Archaeology Survey in Saudi Arabia, A Synopsis of the March 2012 Season

Under the sea near Jeddah.

Under the sea near Jeddah.

In early 2012, Philipps-Universitat Marburg was granted a five-year permit to explore a section of the Red Sea coast of Saudi Arabia for the benefit of the kingdom.  During the period of 1 through 12 March 2012, our archaeological team from Philipps-Universität Marburg along with staff from the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities conducted explorations on land and under sea for archaeological remains of harbors and watercraft. We conducted basic terrestrial research at the extreme ends of our research zone, at Rabigh and Al Shoaibah. Underwater investigations were conducted over six days at select points off the coast. The team’s efforts were rewarded with the discovery of one terrestrial site– a coral built jetty with accompanying shell middens– and one shipwreck.

Our preliminary survey was not just to find archaeological sites.  Our goals included:

  • The exploration of the Jeddah region for shipwrecks and harborages to determine their importance for future archaeological investigation and heritage preservation;
  • Examine the coastal dynamics of the region to further our understanding of the Jeddah area to create a long-term archaeological plan;
  • Begin the compilation of a preliminary map and database of the sites within the research region for the benefit of the Saudi Commission of Tourism and Antiquities;
  • Create a photographic and video-based record of the sites;
  • Build a relationship with our Saudi colleagues, as well as with the local pertinent personnel to further the research and promote heritage preservation.

We spent spent several days engaged in underwater exploration, diving through crystal-clear waters, surrounded by multi-colored coral and sealife.  Beginning on 6 March, we began examining various areas for shipwrecks. Starting with check-out dives in a secure lagoon, we began archaeological surveying as well as undertaking the first steps of diver training for the Saudi contingent from the SCTA.

Our efforts were quickly rewarded with the discovery of our first shipwreck, and only on our second day! Our dive master, Gerd Knepel was the first to spot it, returning to our vessel with photographs of an encrusted piece of pottery with a handle and neck but broken off at the shoulder.  But what was it?  Was it Ottoman? Byzantine? Or something earlier.  The following day, examining the find underwater, the realization dawned: we had a site containing ceramics of the Roman era, probably fourth or fifth century.  Afterwards, back home in Marburg, we were able to refine the date to the late third or fourth centuries AD with the aid of Turkish colleague.  Thrilling is an understatement!

At the end of our March survey, we had met most of our goals. We found one shipwreck from antiquity, examined areas of the sea previously unknown archaeologically, gathered information about the coast, and trained our Saudi colleagues in diving techniques and archaeological methods and practices.

We hope our some of our Saudi colleagues will form the core of a future group of nautical archaeologists in the kingdom. The shipwreck we discovered promises to add significantly to our knowledge of ancient Red Sea trade and seafaring along the Arabian coast, and indicates that other wrecks of various times remain to be located along the coast of Saudi Arabia. 

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