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Dashing the shipwreck. Some critical notes on (wreck-) archaeology using an Estonian example.
2008 (English)In: Proceedings of the 13th Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists (Zadar, Croatia, 18-23. September 2007).: Session: Underwater Archaeology. / [ed] Irena Radić Rossi, Andrej Gaspari & Andrzej Pydyn, Zagreb: Croatian Archaeological Society , 2008, , 11 p.256-266 p.Chapter in book (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In the end of the year 2006 a shipwreck was found during the reconstruction works in the Tallinn Harbour. On the basis of only 4 salvaged fragmentary pieces and partly, according to their find-spot, the wreck was directly hypothesised to be a Swedish warship Draken from the 17th century. Without any actual preliminary investigations of the location and/or complementary archival studies, the ship was also said to be in a totally demolished condition. The generally acknowledged expert of Estonian maritime archaeology declared that shipwrecks of this age, type and condition are not worthy of any kind of archaeological research. And the Estonian National Heritage Board agreed, even though they had earlier estimated the wreck to be a find with a high cultural value.Several problematic issues for the more general discussions on underwater heritage emerge from the above stated example. The choice and evaluation of research material is definitely requisite in archaeology; in case of old shipwrecks, their condition, age, frequency of occurrence and general cultural and scientific importance are probably the most important criteria for evaluation. But, do 4 fragmental ship-details give any information on these matters?! Even without preliminary investigations the first step in wreck-archaeology seems always to be identifying a site, putting a name to it. Thus, why, in so many cases concerning shipwrecks, archaeological material itself is not considered important? Furthermore, statement that 17th century (and younger) shipwrecks are not of interest for the science and are suitable only if these are preserved entirely, is even more distanced and unsuitable standpoint for archaeology. Still, such declarations, more characteristic for antiquarian archaeology, occur frequently in academic maritime archaeology. And for any National Heritage Board to proceed in their decision making from plain hypotheses and from the concept according to which only “beautiful” and entirely preserved object have a value should be totally out of place in today’s archaeology.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Zagreb: Croatian Archaeological Society , 2008. , 11 p.256-266 p.
National Category
Archaeology
Research subject
Archaeology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-143245ISBN: 978-953-6335-00-8 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-143245DiVA: diva2:389854
Available from: 2011-01-20 Created: 2011-01-20 Last updated: 2011-01-20

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