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ArchaeologyPart of Humanities
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Dr Julian Whitewright 

Teaching Fellow

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Dr Julian Whitewright is a Teaching Fellow in Archaeology at the University of Southampton.


I am a maritime archaeologist specialising in the study of boats and ships, specifically their construction and use. I completed my BA(hons) in Archaeology at the University of Southampton in 1999 and the MA in Maritime Archaeology here in 2000. My doctorate, also at Southampton (2008), addressed the theme of maritime technological change in the ancient Mediterranean through the archaeology of sailing rigs. I joined the archaeology department as a part-time teaching fellow in 2010 and I spend the other part of my time working as a maritime archaeologist at the Maritime Archaeology Trust.

My interest in watercraft extends beyond my job and I am an experienced sailor and rower, primarily in traditional vessels and Bantry Bay Gigs in particular. In 2004 I skippered the United Kingdom Gig which claimed first place in the World Championships, reprising this success as the coach of the team in 2010. I am a trustee of a maritime training charity, specialising in seamanship, allowing me to bring hard-learned practical experience in traditional watercraft into the classroom as a means to further understand maritime archaeology.






Research interests


My primary archaeological research concerns technological change and innovation within the construction and use of watercraft. I have particular areas of interest relating to the ancient and early medieval periods in the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean. Research into this subject has been driven by fieldwork at the Roman port of Myos Hormos on the Red Sea and augmented through maritime ethnographic fieldwork in India and East Africa into traditional boatbuilding and boat use. The results of this work indicates that maritime technological change rarely took place because of the functional or environmental reasons so often claimed by maritime archaeologists, instead emphasising the role of people and economic factors in shaping maritime technology. My on-going research has also highlighted the continuing value of maritime ethnography to the discipline of maritime archaeology in the context of boat and ship archaeology.

Closer to home, I also carry out work in the Solent region and along the south coast of England studying the construction of a range of ships and boats in collaboration with the Maritime Archaeology Trust. In particular, this work has focused upon the development of innovative construction materials, such as copper and copper-alloys to shipbuilding processes during the 18th and 19th century in both Naval and merchant vessels. I am also concerned about the on-going management of maritime cultural heritage as it faces a number of challenges revolving around coastal change and the increasing exploitation of our seas and oceans in the 21st century. To this end I am involved in recent and on-going work which seeks to enhance the management of underwater cultural heritage within England. This has included overseeing the English Heritage pilot study for the practical viability of extending the use of scheduled ancient monuments to the marine zone. Current projects include on-going research into the schooner Ocean, lost in the eastern Solent in 1865. I also specialise in bringing archaeological archives to full publication and I am currently engaged in working upon the final analysis of the wreck of the Stirling Castle, a 70-gun 3rd-rate Royal Navy vessel lost on the Goodwin Sands, Kent in the Great Storm of 1703 and subject to archaeological investigation since 1979.


Research group(s)

Maritime Archaeology

Affiliate research group(s)

Archaeological Computing


ARCH1062: Wonderful Things (instructor)

HUMA2008: Life and Afterlife of the Vikings (instructor)

ARCH3034: The Archaeology of Seafaring (co-ordinator)

ARCH6114 Maritime Aspects of Culture (co-ordinator)

ARCH6119: Applied Maritime Archaeology (instructor)

ARCH6120: Maritime Museums and Heritage Management (instructor)

ARCH6122: Ancient Mediterranean Seafaring (instructor)

PhD Supervision

Reflecting my main research and teaching areas, I am interested in supervising postgraduate (PhD) research into topics which address the construction and use of watercraft, with specific concern for understanding maritime technology and how studying it can provide an insight into maritime cultures or communities for the wider discipline of archaeology.


Dr Julian Whitewright
Faculty of Humanities, University of Southampton
Avenue Campus, Highfield
SO17 1BF
United Kingdom

Room Number: 65A/1241

Telephone: (023) 8059 6866
Facsimile: (023) 8059 3032

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