South Africa: Maritime Archaeology

  • Jaco BoshoffEmail author
Living reference work entry


South Africa has roughly a 3,000-km-long coastline scattered with an estimated 3,000 historically recorded shipwrecks dating from the sixteenth century right up to modern times. According to the South African Heritage Resources Agency database, the resource represents 38 different nationalities. Shipwrecks concentrated in “hot spots” like harbors or rough stretches of coastline mostly because the southern tip of Africa was the gateway to the east for the European colonial powers before the construction of the Suez Canal. This heritage is dominated by Portuguese, Dutch, and British shipwrecks. The Portuguese opened up the sea route from Europe to the east, the Dutch colonized the Cape in the seventeenth century, and the British prevailed over the Dutch in the early nineteenth century. Academic interest in historical shipwrecks is a twentieth-century phenomena as in the previous centuries the economic value of salvage was the foremost motive for investigating the remains of...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research and ExhibitionsIziko Museums of South AfricaCape TownSouth Africa

Section editors and affiliations

  • Geoffrey N. Bailey
    • 1
  • Wendy van Duivenvoorde
  1. 1.The King's Manor, Department of ArchaeologyUniversity of YorkYorkUK