MARITIME CIVILIZATIONS: GRADUATE TEACHING AND RESEARCH OF HUMAN INTERACTION WITH THE SEA AT THE UNIVERSITY OF HAIFA



The Department of Maritime Civilizations at the University of Haifa was established in 1973. It conducts an interdisciplinary graduate program, focusing on the interaction between man and the sea. Courses relating to the fields of marine and coastal archaeology, maritime history, marine and coastal geomorphology, geology, and marine biology and ecology are available. Graduates are awarded the degree of Master of Arts. A list of graduates and their thesis topics is presented in this newsletter.

Studies at the Department of Maritime Civilizations emphasize the following:

Archaeology, history and geography of civilizations whose history and cultural development were greatly influenced by the sea, with an emphasis on the civilizations of the Mediterranean and the Red Sea in Antiquity and the Middle Ages.

Oceanographic, ecological, and geological conditions of the seas and coastal waters of the Mediterranean Region and the Gulf of Eilat, and their effect on cultural development in these regions.

Modern archaeological, geomorphological and biological research methods at sea and in the coastal zone. This includes the study of modern techniques for conservation of metal and waterlogged wood, dating artifacts etc.

The interdisciplinary approach to marine studies is very common in the teaching of natural sciences. Numerous universities have multidisciplinary departments of oceanography, or run multidisciplinary graduate schools, allowing their students to choose a topic of specialization following training in the basic skills of scientific research at sea. Maritime research at the University of Haifa emphasizes the interdisciplinary approach of the Department of Maritime Civilizations, by combining the humanities, social sciences, and natural and earth sciences; history, geology and biology, within the context of humankind's relationship with the sea.

All students begin their training with general courses in marine and maritime studies and the fundamentals of ancient Near Eastern history and archaeology. Upon completion of the prerequisite subjects, students may choose a field of specialization. Through this system of study, a student reaching graduation is well aware of the complexity of the concepts of maritime civilization and marine research. Ideally, the graduate will be well qualified to function as part of a multidisciplinary team and will be capable of seeking advice from experts in related fields. This holistic approach to research is a requirement for a successful modern investigation at sea.

The Department of Maritime Civilizations offers more than 40 courses (see below) at various levels. Five introductory courses in marine archaeology and maritime studies are obligatory for students lacking previous training. Although these courses are not credited towards the Masters degree, passing them successfully is mandatory for further studies. Courses entail monographic lectures, pro-seminars and seminars, as well as a number of classes at the inter-university laboratory in Eilat. Students are required to participate in guided coastal archaeological excavations, various field and underwater research activities, and excursions along the coast and at sea (Fig. 1). Use of research laboratories for reconstruction and preservation of ceramics, glass, metal, and wood is encouraged. The university library is well stocked with books and periodicals covering the wide field of human interaction with the sea. Students benefit from the assistance of academic advisors from other departments and institutes in their research and the preparation of their dissertations.

By offering a structured series of courses also at the undergraduate level, the department has opened marine research to the general population of students at the university. Furthermore, archaeologists affiliated with the department teach a series of undergraduate classes at the Department of Archaeology, as part of the training course in maritime archaeology. Students in other departments such as geography and Eretz Israel studies are also exposed to basic courses in maritime civilizations.

Non-Hebrew speakers from abroad, interested in the study of humankind and the sea may apply for admission to the department. During the first year of studies these students enroll in the intensive Hebrew study program held at the university and undertake directed reading courses with members of the faculty. Students then join the regular study program in the second year. Overseas students are entitled to dormitory accommodation.

During recent years the department has invited scholars of international repute to present guest lectures or short courses. These presentations are an integral part of the syllabus and students are expected to attend and submit a final paper, which is graded. Over the past four years, guests have been Professors William M. Murray, Sean McGrail, Frank Frost and Cyrus H. Gordon. The visits were generously supported by Irene and Maurice Hatter of London. A fund, established by Mr. and Mrs. Hatter, dedicates its annual dividends to the support of research projects carried out by graduate students and post-doctoral teachers at the department. More than $30,000 in prizes are distributed each year.
The Department of Maritime Civilizations is the teaching arm of maritime studies at the University of Haifa, while the research arm is the Leon Recanati Center for Maritime Studies. The majority of faculty members of the graduate department are research scientists at the CMS.

Students at the Department of Maritime Civilizations participate in the ongoing academic research carried out at the CMS as part of their training (Fig. 2). Most go on to prepare their theses with the support of the CMS technical staff. The center maintains a maritime workshop for professional diving and marine surveying (Fig. 3). It renders technical support for reconstruction, drafting and photography, either from its base in Haifa, or its coastal provisional bases, such as that at Caesarea. The center conducts numerous cooperative research projects with institutions in Israel and abroad.


Fig. 1. Students during a study excursion along the Israeli coast (Photo: Y. Tur Caspa)


In addition to conventional academic publishing, the CMS endeavors to bring the study of human-maritime interaction to the general community. Awareness is raised through the publication of popular books and articles in Hebrew and English, and through the organization of lecture series and exhibitions open to the public.

Numerous archaeological finds uncovered by researchers affiliated with the CMS are on permanent display. Bronze objects - luxury goods from Tel Nami, are on display at the Hecht Museum on the University campus, the Bible Land Museum, and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, and are part of an exhibition of Israeli archaeological treasures traveling Europe and the Americas. A ship-mounted bronze ram of the 3rd - 2nd century BCE is on display at the National Maritime Museum in Haifa, with a copy in the French National Maritime Museum; and finds from the Ma'agan Michael shipwreck are shown at the Hecht Museum. Treasures discovered in Caesarea are presented at the Ralli Museum in Caesarea, having been displayed at the Smithsonian Institution and other important museums in North America.

Members of faculty also serve on professional committees, at both a national and international level.




Fig. 2. Students excavating at Caesarea




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