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‘Giant Strides’ in Documentaries, ‘Ascents’ in Archaeology: Nautical Archaeology's Relationship with and Place within Popular Culture


  • Note on images

    To qualify its arguments it is necessary that this article uses screen-shots captured from television productions. As these images are not to publication standard but are essential to the work, the editor has kindly allowed the images to be made available via a webpage. The images can thus be viewed to an acceptable standard and are referenced within the text in the usual way. To download or view these images please visit:


This article covers 30 years of the representation of nautical archaeology on television. It criticises and positions current research, then develops an objective methodology for examining television documentaries. The relationships and similarities between television documentaries and academia and the wider professional and amateur discipline is debated. Original research, which argues for a structure that is ever-present in nautical archaeology as in popular culture and academia, is deconstructed, and the implications reviewed. A sequence of images is defined and it is demonstrated that this forms a ‘unique selling-point’ used by both television and the academic discipline.

© 2008 The Author