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Shelley Wachsmann

Dr. Shelley Wachsmann
Meadows Professor of Biblical Archaeology
  • (979) 847-9257
  • Anthropology 121
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PhD, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1990
Nautical Archaeology


Biblical archaeology, nautical archaeology, seafaring, cult, archery

Current Research Projects:

I am fascinated by ships and the sea and how cultures interacted through them. My regional focus is mainly, although not solely, the eastern Mediterranean during its earlier formative period. The cultic use of ships—or their facsimiles—many of which never saw water beneath their hulls, intrigues me. Due to the paucity of actual shipwrecks from the times that most interest me, I have focused on the interpretation of ancient ship iconography. Around the turn of the millennium I became interested in the potential of deep-submergence archaeology.

My recent field projects reflect these interests. In 2002 I directed a paleo-environmental study of three possible Phoenician anchorages in Portugal. In 2003-2006, I directed the Canadian team of a joint Canadian-Greek expedition in search of fleets lost during the Persian War in the early fifth century B.C. (Read more here) and in 2007-2009 I led the Danaos Project, a deep-water survey studying the Crete-to-Egypt trade route in antiquity (Read about it here). Following a long fascination with the culture of Easter Island, in March 2012 I organized the first maritime remote-sensing survey of the crater lake of Rano Raraku and a survey of maritime aspects of the Rapanui Culture, in collaboration with Dr. Jo Anne Van Tilburg’s Easter Island Statue Project. Most recently, under the aegis of the Jaffa Cultural Heritage Project and with the goal of better understanding the maritime dimensions of the port of Jaffa, Israel, I directed The 2014 Ioppa Maritima Project, which combined a geoarchaeological/geophysical land survey together with a deep-water Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) examination of multibeam survey anomalies at depths of 50-250 meters.

My fifth book (2013) deals with a wooden ship-cart model discovered in 1920 by W.M.F. Petrie at Gurob, in middle Egypt. The prototype of the Gurob model was clearly an Aegean-style galley—probably a pentakonter of a type used by both the Mycenaeans and the Sea Peoples. This model is the most detailed known representation of this galley type, for which no actual ships have been discovered. Put simply, if Helen’s face launched a thousand ships, this is the best existent example of that ship type.

My sixth and most recent (2015) book is a short guide to seafaring on the Sea of Galilee in antiquity.

Courses Taught:

ANTH 317 – Biblical Archaeology
ANTH 489 – Ancient Egypt
ANTH 608 – Skills in Maritime Archaeology
ANTH 612 – Pre-Classical Seafaring
ANTH 633 – Deep Submergence Archaeology

Current Graduate Students:

Traci Andrews, Bethany Becktell, Catherine Brooks

Selected and Recent Publications:

Shelley Wachsmann (2015) Understanding the Boat from the Time of Jesus: Galilean Seafaring.Jerusalem, Carta.

Shelley Wachsmann (2013) The Gurob Ship-Cart Model and Its Mediterranean Context. College Station, Texas A&M University Press.

Shelley Wachsmann (2012) Panathenaic Ships: The Iconographic Evidence. Hesperia 81: 237-266.

Shelley Wachsmann (2011) Deep-Submergence Archaeology. InThe Oxford Handbook of Marine Archaeology. A. Catsambis, B. Ford and D. Hamilton, ed. New York: Oxford University Press: 202-231.

Shelley Wachsmann (2010) Ahhotep’s Silver Ship Model: The Minoan Context. Journal of Ancient Egyptian Interconnections2/3: 31-41.

Shelley Wachsmann (2009) On Drawing the Bow.  In Eretz-Israel29 (In Honor of Ephraim Stern). J. Aviram, A. Ben-Tor, I. Eph`al, S. Gitin and R. Reich, eds. Jerusalem, Israel Exploration Society: 238*-257*.

Shelley Wachsmann, R.K. Dunn, J. Hale, R.L. Hohlfelder, L.B. Conyers, E.G. Ernenwein, P. Sheets, M.L. Pienheiro Blot, F. Castro and D. Davis. (2009) The Paleoenvironmental Contexts of Three Possible Phoenician Anchorages in Portugal. International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 38(2): 221-253.

For additional downloads of my publications, please visit my Academia page.