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Fred Van Doorninck

Professor Emeritus


He came to Texas A&M University in 1976 from the Univeristy of California, Davis, as one of the original faculty of A&M’s new Nautical Archaeology Program. He was the first to study evidence for the re-use of amphoras as transport jars, spending several semesters in Turkey in the careful cleaning and scrutiny of shipwrecks. Taking from an hour to four days to clean one of hundreds of amphoras, he found few assistants who could clean graffiti on ampohoras carefully enough for study. Research on an 11th-century shipwreck allowed him to determine the reasoning behind anchor design of the period, and the implications of shipwreck artifacts within the context of maritime trade. At least one of the names on the ship’s amphoras was an abbreviated Slavic name. This led him to learn to read Bulgarian, Russian, and Rumanian and from that he determined that the ship was sailed by Hellenized Bulgarian merchants who lived on the north coast of the Sea of Marmara near Constantinople. His current passion is the study of Byzantine amphoras. The study of amphoras from the Yassi Ada is shedding new light on the military reforms of the emperor Heraclius and the last campaign in his war against the Persians.