UNC CSI To Host ‘Our Underwater Heritage’ Lecture

Posted By on November 25, 2015

The UNC Coastal Studies Institute will host the ninth presentation in the “Our Underwater Heritage” Lecture series on December 3, at 6pm at the UNC CSI campus site on Roanoke Island.   The lecture series, held monthly, features presentations from maritime archaeologists and graduate students on a variety of maritime archaeology projects in coastal North Carolina.  

This month’s program, entitled, “Lighthouses, Confederate Earthworks and Plantation Shipwrecks: An Investigation of Coastal Heritage Sites at Risk or Overlooked in Hanover and Brunswick Counties, NC” will be presented by Dr. Lynn Harris, Associate Professor of Maritime Archaeology in the Program in Maritime Studies at East Carolina University. 

Map of Union Attack on Fort Fisher, North Carolina (January 15, 1865).

Map of Union Attack on Fort Fisher, North Carolina (January 15, 1865).

An interdisciplinary team from East Carolina University is investigating a set of diverse maritime cultural sites in the Wilmington area that represent either a preservation risk or a potential resource to be showcased for heritage tourism.  The project represents a partnership with private, state and federal stakeholders. Case studies include a historic lighthouse, boathouse, wharves, coastal confederate earthworks, plantation and Civil War shipwrecks, fish houses, and Native American riverine sites. Several of the sites are structurally unstable or located along eroding river banks or dynamic shores lines. 

Other sites might add a venue to existing tourism operations in the area and serve as centerpieces for revised or neglected historical narratives about the port city and surrounding areas. The fieldwork operations include exploring a variety of technologies to rapidly document and analyze site data including laser scanners, drones for aerial photography, remote sensing, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

This lecture series was made possible through the  assistance of a grant from the Outer Banks Community Foundation (OBCF).   The “Our Underwater Heritage” Lecture series is s a year-long maritime heritage-themed speaker series on the Outer Banks.  The program will celebrate the rich maritime heritage of northeastern North Carolina, with particular attention given to the wealth of shipwrecks found in our estuarine, coastal and offshore waters. 

The result of a collaboration between the UNC Coastal Studies Institute (Maritime Heritage Program), East Carolina University (Program in Maritime Studies, Department of History), and the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum (NC Department of Cultural Resources) the program of presentations will see scholars from East Carolina University, the National Park Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Florida’s Bureau of Archaeological Research travel to the area each month from January to May and September to December to give presentations regarding ongoing or recently completed maritime archaeological investigations.

The series, titled “Our Underwater Heritage: Maritime Archaeology Projects in Coastal North Carolina”, will highlight a diversity of topics in local underwater archaeology, from the reconstruction of pivotal battles, iconic shipwrecks, and critical industries of yesteryear, to the challenges involved in the study and preservation of our maritime history.

Old Baldy Lighthouse (image, Lynn Harris)

Old Baldy Lighthouse (image by Lynn Harris).


Posted by Matt Artz

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