Frost’s work in the Levant raised questions about sea level change and its impact on coastal landscapes more than 50 years ago – questions which remain central to maritime archaeological research in the region, but also to research into submerged sites and maritime geoarchaeology across the world. At the same time, maritime archaeological ideas about the dynamic relationship between land and sea, and crucially the notion of seascapes, have proven integral to an agenda-setting, new body of research into understandings of coasts and maritime space across the humanities, geography and social sciences.
This project will map a history of Frost’s engagements with sites in the Levant (primarily Byblos, alongside Tyre and Sidon in Lebanon). Drawing on archival research and interviews, it will explore the questions she sought to answer about these sites, the innovative hypotheses she developed in response, and the ways in which she tried to demonstrate them (see for e.g. Frost 1964, 1966). Alongside this, the project will trace the history of maritime archaeological ideas about seascapes. Frost’s ideas about sea-level change and the connections and changes, sometimes dynamic over time, between land and sea will be examined in the context of early maritime archaeological disciplinary interest in looking at the land from the sea. It will trace this idea through the later focus on integrating ‘terrestrial’ and ‘maritime’ archaeology, and, finally, to new ideas about the coast (which is no longer seen as a boundary, but as part of a seamless, lived space that needs to be conceptualised and studied as a whole). And, finally, it will consider the impact of these maritime archaeological discussions on wider academic discourse about coasts and maritime space.
The project will produce both a history of a key maritime archaeological idea – the notion of the seascape – and a history of Frost’s work on submerged sites of the coastal Levant. In bringing these two histories together, it will also explore how site-specific questions have influenced broader philosophical ideas about seascapes, and their interplay over time as the academic discourse around these ideas matures and research into specific sites continues.
The project will run for 10 months until February 2018. It is a pilot for a larger, histories of maritime archaeology project that draws on Frost’s work and examines histories of maritime archaeological practices, of underwater cultural heritage, of professionalization and of maritime archaeological writing: ‘Writing Honor: Archaeology, History and (Auto)Biography’.