, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 48-56
Date: 03 Aug 2007

Alchemy or Science? Compromising Archaeology in the Deep Sea

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In the torrid debate between archaeology and treasure hunting, compromise is often suggested as the pragmatic solution, especially for archaeology carried out either in deep water or beyond the constraints that commonly regulate such activities in territorial seas. Both the wisdom and the need for such compromise have even been advocated by some archaeologists, particularly in forums such as the internet and conferences. This paper argues that such a compromise is impossible, not in order to fuel confrontation but simply because of the nature of any academic discipline. We can define what archaeology is in terms of its aims, theories, methods and ethics, so combining it with an activity founded on opposing principles must transform it into something else. The way forward for archaeology in the deep sea does not lie in a contradictory realignment of archaeology’s goals but in collaborative research designed to mesh with emerging national and regional research and management plans.