I’m Ralph Pedersen, an archaeologist specializing in the ancient seafaring of the Mediterranean, Red Sea, Gulf, and Indian Ocean.
Over the course of my career I have been a member of the excavation of the Bronze Age shipwreck at Uluburun, Turkey; I served as daily field director for the 1991 excavation of a 17th- century wreck at Monte Cristi, Dominican Republic under USD Anthropology Associate Professor Jerome Lynn Hall; surveyed underwater in Bahrain; excavated a 1500-year-old shipwreck at Black Assarca Island, Eritrea; surveyed shipwrecks off New York’s Long Island, and served as an Associate Director of India’s Kadakkarapally Boat Project, which involves a thousand-year-old ship found under a coconut grove. Really.
Beginnning in 2004 I have concentrated my research on Lebanon– a great place!– where I conducted an underwater survey at Tell el-Burak, and at the early Bronze Age tell at Fadous-Kfarabida for the American University of Beirut. Most recently my colleague Lucy Semaan and I excavated an underwater site in Beirut.
In 2012 I was once again drawn to the Red Sea, and my colleagues and I began surveying along the Red Sea coast of Saudi Arabia. This project is the brainchild of Dr. Rupert A. Brandmeier, without whom it never would have happened. Our goals include locating sites on land and underwater for their study and protection. In this, we are working with the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities. We have run two surveys so far–more projects are in the works!–in which we discovered one harbor site and two shipwrecks: one Roman period and the other seemingly dating from late antiquity to the early Islamic period. This last wreck was discovered by my student Matthias Link.
In addition to my research, I have been the Gastdozent für Nautische Archäologie at Philipps-Universität Marburg (that is, I was a visiting professor teaching courses in nautical archaeology as well as creating a new curriculum–the first of its kind in Germany–new research designs and projects); the Distinguished Visiting Professor in Anthropology and Knapp Chair in Liberal Arts at the University of San Diego; and the Whittlesey Chair Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of History and Archaeology at the American University of Beirut.
To further my research, in 2014 I founded the non-profit Red Sea Institute for Anthropological Research, which you can find here. Great things are beginning to happen! You can read more about my research and see a number of photographs on my website.
I have also been a Research Associate with the Institute of Nautical Archaeology since 1992. INA has given me great research opportunities over the years. Follow the link to see more about them.