, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 588-622

Shipwreck Identity, Methodology, and Nautical Archaeology

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The goal of this essay is to decipher the methods used by nautical archaeologists to create and to apply affiliations or identities to the assemblages they investigate under water. By collating 36 years of data from The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, this author proposes that the methods applied are predominantly intuitive, and are not only susceptible to a variety of interpretive critiques, their intuitive nature also impacts the various historical narratives that the material culture becomes embedded within. The author concludes by arguing that the explication of methods is necessary for the discipline to continue to grow, and proposes that disengaging the identification of ancient and early medieval wrecks from a historical narrative is a route worth exploring.