Oxford's maritime archaeology centre celebrates 20-year milestone

Damian Robinson, the director of OCMA, inspecting a ship <i>(Image: Christoph Gerigk Franck Goddio/Hilti Foundation)</i>
Damian Robinson, the director of OCMA, inspecting a ship (Image: Christoph Gerigk Franck Goddio/Hilti Foundation)

The Oxford Centre for Maritime Archaeology (OCMA) is celebrating it 20 years since its formation.

Oxford University, paired with the European Institute for Underwater Archaeology (IEASM) and the Hilti foundation, formed OCMA in 2003.

The aim was to create a research hub for maritime archaeology.

Originating as a research centre, OCMA now has a staff body including doctoral students specialising in water-based archaeological topics.

Initially, it started teaching undergraduates within the school of archaeology and faculty of classics.

It then expanded to masters students, offering individual courses, or the option to focus on research training relating to maritime archaeology for the entirety of their degree.

Franck Goddio, the president of the IEASM and excavation director said: "Thanks to the Hilti Foundation, cooperating with OCMA is the perfect match for us.

"Welcoming scholars and PhD students from different backgrounds to our missions and study seasons has given us further insights into our very diverse material.

"We are also happy to be able to show them innovative developments in geophysical surveys and the latest results from our archaeological excavations."

OCMA worked with IEASM on projects in the submerged cities of Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus, including Alexandria's eastern harbour.

Oxford academics supervised doctoral students researching objects from these sites, gaining access to unique collections and experiences.

OCMA and the IEASM jointly promote research through international conferences and outreach events, engaging specialists and the public.

The Hilti Foundation has supported the archaeological expeditions since 1996.

Damian Robinson, the director of OCMA, said: "Between them, the Hilti Foundation and the IEASM have been fantastic supporters of maritime archaeology in Oxford.

"Their longstanding commitment has enabled generations of students to be introduced to the discipline, several of whom have gone on to academic positions and are now teaching students of their own: it’s exciting and enriching working with Franck and the Foundation."

They publish a peer-reviewed monograph series on specialist object analyses, excavation reports, and thematic volumes based on OCMA conferences.

Future publications will include reports on the IEASM’s excavations in Alexandria.

Michael Hilti, member of the board of the Hilti Foundation, said: "The momentum brought through the cooperation with the IEASM and the University of Oxford is exactly what we want to achieve with our commitment.

"It establishes long-term specialist networks in order to break new, successful ground in the study of past civilizations and to make the discoveries, knowledge, and lessons we can learn from them accessible to all."

More information can be found at the OCMA website.