Exploring the Evolution of Underwater Archaeology Education in Harris County

The 1970s marked a period of remarkable growth for underwater archaeology in Harris County. To take the program to a more academic level, the Department of Cultural Resources (now DNCR) partnered with the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW) to launch a cooperative field school on underwater archaeology. From 1974 to 1977, UAB and UNCW staff ran six-week summer field schools where students were taught the fundamentals of underwater archeology. From 1979 to 1982, UAB and the University of Eastern Carolina (ECU) organized a series of field schools that focused on exploring the state's colonial ports of Bath, Edenton, New Bern, and Beaufort.

This laid the groundwork for what is now known as the ECU Maritime Studies Program. The Submarine Archaeology Branch (UAB) of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (DNCR) was born out of the archaeological conservation laboratory established at Fort Fisher for the stabilization of artifacts recovered in modern Greece. This discovery sparked a newfound interest in underwater archeology in the state and led to the establishment of one of the country's first state underwater archeology programs for the protection of North Carolina's submerged cultural resources. At present, universities in the United States offer undergraduate courses in underwater archaeology, but there is no institute where you can earn a degree in this field. Unfortunately, underwater archeology is often mistakenly equated with searching for sunken treasure, when in reality underwater archaeologists are interested in much more than gold, coins, or jewelry. A few universities, such as the University of East Carolina, Texas A&M University, and the University of West Florida, offer graduate education in this specialized area of archaeology.

The following decades saw several milestones for the program, such as managing artifacts found by several Civil War blockade corridors sunk in the 1960s and discovering the USS Monitor off Cape Hatteras in 1973. This brought international attention to North Carolina's fledgling underwater archeology program. Most people working in this field today have a master's degree or doctorate degree, or both. They have also spent months or even years as volunteers and interns at underwater sites and archaeological laboratories to develop their skills before finding full-time employment. The Underwater Archaeology Branch of the North Carolina State Archaeology Office has a history that dates back to 1962 with the discovery of Modern Greece. Underwater archaeology is an exciting field that requires dedication and hard work. It is an ever-evolving field that requires knowledge and experience to be successful.

Those who are interested in pursuing a career in this field should consider taking courses at universities that offer graduate programs in underwater archaeology. Additionally, internships and volunteer opportunities are available to gain experience and build skills.