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Shelley Wachsmann was born in Canada and immigrated to Israel in 1968. He earned all three of his degrees in Near Eastern Archaeology from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem’s Institute of Archaeology: BA (1974), MA (1984) and Ph.D. (1990).
From 1976 to 1989 Wachsmann served as the Inspector of Underwater Antiquities for the Israel Department of Antiquities and Museums. During that time he was directly responsible for the nautical heritage of Israel. He carried out numerous underwater archaeological surveys and excavations in the Mediterranean, Red Sea and Sea of Galilee. Among the projects he directed were the excavation of a Late Bronze Age cargo off the Carmel coast, probe excavations of a late fifth century BC wreck near Kibbutz Maagan Michael, a sixth century AD Byzantine wreck off Dor and the search for cannon jettisoned by Napoleon during his retreat from Acco in 1799.
In 1986 he directed the excavation of the Sea of Galilee Boat, a 2,000-year-old boat found in the Sea of Galilee near the ancient site of Migdal. At the completion of the excavation the boat was moved intact to a conservation pool at the Yigal Allon Museum at nearby Kibbutz Ginosar where it is now on exhibit.
Beginning in 1990, Wachsmann became Meadows Visiting Assistant Professor of Biblical Archeology in the Nautical Archaeology Program, Texas A&M University. In 1993 this Chair was converted to a tenure-track position for which Wachsmann was appointed and in 1999 he received tenure and promotion to Associate Professor. Since 2009 he has served as the Coordinator of the Nautical Archaeology Program.
Wachsmann has carried out extensive fieldwork in the eastern Mediterranean. Most recently, in 2002 he directed a paleo-environmental study of three possible Phoenician anchorages in Portugal. In 2003-2006, he directed the Canadian team of a joint Canadian-Greek expedition in search of fleets lost during the Persian War in the early 5th century B.C.) and in 2007-2009 he led the Danaos Project, a deep-water survey studying the Crete-to-Egypt trade route in antiquity.
Interests: nautical archaeology, biblical archaeology, Near East, archery
Wachsmann has published four books and over sixty articles on the results of his field research and on other archaeological subjects. His third book, The Sea of Galilee Boat: An Extraordinary 2000 Year Old Discovery (Plenum Press: 1995) won the Biblical Archaeology Society’s Award for best popular book published in archaeology in 1995-1996. His fourth book, Seagoing Ships and Seamanship in the Bronze Age Levant, (Texas A&M University Press: 1998), received the Irene Levi-Sala Book Prize in the Archaeology of Israel in the popular book category for 1998-1999. His most recent book, The Gurob Ship-Cart Model and Its Mediterranean Context, is scheduled for publication by Texas A&M University Press in 2012. Since 1993 Wachsmann has served on the Explorers Club’s Science Advisory Board (Marine Archaeology). In 2008 he became an Adjunct Scientist of the Institute for Exploration (IFE), and in 2011 an Academic Trustee of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA)