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Documenting a Shipwreck

Three Phases of Field Research

Several different methods can be used to document a shipwreck site. In fact, field archaeologists may spend their entire careers learning and improving their skills in site survey, documentation, and excavation. When developing an approach, or method, for documenting a shipwreck, careful consideration must be given to the site environment, site type and condition, project funding, allotted field time, and the experience of field personnel.

When choosing a methodology for site documentation, the first question that must be asked is "what is the purpose of this work?" In other words, what questions need to be answered? Because the purpose of a field project might be as broad as locating several shipwrecks along a ten mile stretch of shoreline, or as specific as seeking to determine how a specific ship was built, archaeology is generally divided up into three phases of field work.

Phase I 

Phase II

Phase III

Site Reconnaissance Evaluation and Predisturbance Survey Excavation


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