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Nautical Archaeology Program

The Nautical Archaeology Program (NAP) is the academic degree-granting graduate program in the Department of Anthropology at Texas A&M University. Nautical archaeology is the study of the remains of boats and ships and the cultures that created and used them. The program therefore focuses on the history of wooden ship construction; seafaring through the ages; maritime commerce, cargoes, and ports; and the techniques used to record, analyze and conserve the remains of these activities.

In the early 1970s, Texas A&M University offered Dr. George F. Bass, known around the world as the Father of Underwater Archaeology, the opportunity to affiliate his independent non-profit research organization, the Institute of Nautical Archaeology (INA), with TAMU.  IN 1976, the Nautical Archaeology Program was established as the first academic program in the United States to offer a graduate degree in the archaeology of ships and history of seafaring.  The foundational faculty were Bass, J. Richard “Dick Steffy (1976), Fred van Doorninck (1977), and Donny Hamilton (1978). Bass’ holistic vision for the NAP curriculum continues to this day, with educational emphases in ship reconstruction and ancient seafaring, survey and excavation methods, and the conservation of artifacts from underwater environments. In partnership with INA and CMAC, NAP professors and graduate students are involved in a wide array of important underwater archaeological projects all over the world.