Working in Honor Frost’s Wake

Honor Frost

Maritime archaeology is a relative newcomer to scientific research and has benefited from having strong women role models from its infancy. Honor Frost was a pioneer in underwater and nautical archaeological research. From 1960 onwards her work included investigating ancient shipwrecks, recognizing the importance of anchors to nautical studies and innovative research into ports and harbours in the eastern Mediterranean. The Honor Frost Foundation (HFF) is continuing her work.  We asked five International Journal of Nautical Archaeology authors to tell us how her legacy is influencing and enabling their research, and to introduce some of the next generation of young women working in Honor Frost’s wake.

Panel 1

Dr Lucy Blue


I am a senior lecturer at the University of Southampton and Maritime Archaeological Director of the HFF. My doctoral research was very much inspired by Honor Frost’s investigations of ‘proto’ harbours and her seamless approach to the coastal littoral. I studied 2nd-millennium-BC harbours of the eastern Mediterranean and subsequently co-directed research into Hellenistic/Roman harbours of the Red Sea and Lake Mareotis, Alexandria, Egypt (Locating the Harbour: Myos Hormos/Quseir al-Qadim: a Roman and Islamic Port on the Red Sea Coast of Egypt. I also have an interest in ethnographic and archaeological sewn boats, such as Morgawr: an experimental Bronze Age-type sewn-plank craft based on the Ferriby boats.

Honor Frost was always supportive of young researchers, and I have tried to follow her lead. I taught Dr Lucy Semaan at Master’s level, supported her through her doctoral studies, and now guide her HFF-funded post-doctoral research. Another up-and-coming Lebanese student is Crystal Safadi, an HFF scholar who recently completed her doctoral studies at the University of Southampton. Both these talented young women are on track to be key players in the development of maritime archaeology, particularly in Lebanon—a legacy that would no doubt have made Honor Frost very proud.


Dr Lucy Semaan

2aLucySemaanI am a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Balamand, Lebanon. Having been involved in the field of archaeology since 1996, I was exposed to maritime archaeology primarily through the work and research of Honor Frost, who I first met at the Tropis X symposium in Hydra, Greece in 2008. As well as my HFF-funded post-doctoral research, I have recently assisted the HFF in its capacity-building initiatives in Lebanon. My research addresses the seascape of the site of Anfeh in North Lebanon, taking a multi-disciplinary approach in order to understand how people used, modified, and interacted with the seascape. To that end, I study ancient textual sources coupled with coastal and underwater archaeological data, as well as geomorphological signatures along the coastal fringe areas.


Dr. Crystal Safadi

3Crystal_photoI have recently been awarded a PhD by Southampton University. I currently work as a Research Technician on the ‘Writing Honor: The Levant and the history of archaeological ideas about seascapes’ HFF project and will soon start a new position as a Research Fellow at the University of Southampton. HFF funding enabled me to complete a Masters and a PhD in Maritime Archaeology in addition to specialized training such as HSE diving and marine geophysics. My research bridges archaeological data and models to engage differently with the archaeological past by employing mapping as a mediation process. Mapping the performance of seafaring according to natural rhythms and time allows us to envisage maritime space and connectivity in new ways.

Panel 2

Dr Giulia Boetto

Dr Giulia Boetto


I am a Senior Researcher at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), and Deputy Director of the Centre Camille Jullian, a joint research institute linking Aix Marseille University, the CNRS, and the Ministry of Culture, that is dedicated to the history and archaeology of the Mediterranean Sea. My research concerns the structure and development of ancient ships and port installations in the Mediterranean and particularly the Adriatic Sea, such as The Post Medieval Gravellona Toce Boat: an inland watercraft from north-west Italy assembled using locked dowels.

Honor Frost helped me in my first steps in archaeology by sending me her articles on ancient anchors—I will always remember opening the envelope to find her signature and a few encouraging words. Her most inspiring work for me, and for a generation of maritime archaeologists, is her volume on the 3rd-century-BC Punic Ship, found off Marsala, Sicily in 1969. Later, I was lucky to work with her both for the EU-funded Navis I project to build a database of ancient ships, and for the new display of the Punic Ship in Marsala. I will return to the Punic Ship this year thanks to the HFF. I am also one of the organizers of the 15th International Symposium on Boat and Ship Archaeology to be held in Marseille, October 2018, and students can apply for an HFF grant to attend the conference. Thanks to Honor Frost they will take their first steps in this amazing and exciting field of research.

Alba Ferreira Dominguez

Fouilles sous marine Bois et épave, Caska, Croatie

I am a PhD candidate studying with Dr Boetto at Aix Marseille University through a partnership with the French School at Rome, and a member of the Centre Camille Jullian. My doctoral research focuses on the study of wood used in the ancient ships and harbour structures of the Adriatic Sea and south-eastern Europe. The goal is a better understanding of the origin and development of the local shipbuilding traditions. I came to France from Spain for a Master’s degree in Archaeology in 2012, for which I identified wood species used in a Roman lighter found in Toulon harbour and continued in this direction with the ‘Master of Maritime and Coastal Archaeology-MoMarch’ programme that I joined in 2014.

I was proud to present the results of the Toulon wreck study at the HFF conference, Nicosia, 2017—my first participation at an international conference. In Cyprus, I discovered the work and fascinating personality of Honor Frost, who taught us the importance of interdisciplinary approaches in maritime archaeology.

Panel 3

Dr Deborah Cvikel

Dr Deborah Cvikel (left) and Maayan Cohen (right)

Dr. Deborah Cvikel

I am a researcher at the Leon Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies, and senior lecturer at the Department of Maritime Civilizations, both at the University of Haifa, Israel. My areas of research and teaching are maritime history based on underwater archaeology, seamanship and ship-handling, and ship construction (The Byzantine-Period Dor 2006 Shipwreck, Israel: preliminary hull construction report).  I am presently directing the excavation of two sites – the 19th-century Akko Tower Wreck (winner of the HFF/IJNA Open Access prize 2017) and the recently discovered late Byzantine/early Islamic period Ma‘agan Mikhael B shipwreck. Both projects have been supported by valuable research grants from the HFF. In addition, I am directing the Ma‘agan Mikhael II project (the replica of the original Ma‘agan Mikhael ship), which has also received support from the HFF. Students have gained invaluable experience from the underwater archaeological excavations, the research discipline, and comparative theoretical studies in the framework of their PhD theses or MA dissertations.


Maayan Cohen

Maayan Cohen (left) with Dr Deborah Cvikel (right)

Maayan Cohen is a PhD candidate at the Department of Maritime Civilizations at the University of Haifa. Her dissertation focuses on the hull construction of the Maʻagan Mikhael B shipwreck, and its place in the transition in ship construction from ‘shell-first’ to ‘skeleton-first’. This involves a long-term underwater excavation of the shipwreck in the framework of interdisciplinary research that includes an in-depth study of the hull remains, artefacts, and historical context. Maayan is a promising young scholar, deeply interested and motivated in the field of underwater archaeology and, with the support of the HFF, will become a first-rate scientist.

Panel 4

Dr. Stella Demesticha

Dr. Stella Demesticha

7StellaI teach as associate professor of Maritime Archaeology in the Department of History and Archaeology, University of Cyprus. I am particularly interested in shipwrecks, maritime transport containers, ancient seaborne trade mechanisms, and sea routes in the eastern Mediterranean. In 2011, I created the Maritime Archaeological Research Laboratory (MARELab) at the Archaeological Research Unit of the University of Cyprus and I currently direct two on-going underwater excavation projects on the island, at the Mazotos and the Nissia Shipwreck sites. I have also co-ordinated research projects on ship graffiti and the maritime landscape of Cyprus. I teach both under- and post-graduate courses, supervise PhD students and co-ordinate a Master’s Programme, entitled ‘Field Archaeology on Land and Under the Sea’.

The HFF has played a key role in the development of my work in Cyprus, as it has funded both of my field projects, granted scholarships to Master’s and PhD students of mine, and approved a grant for my research associate. This multi-level support has been instrumental not only for my personal research but also for Cyprus, where maritime archaeology is currently taking its first steps. Apart from the material support, however, it is important to stress how inspiring the paradigm of Honor Frost herself was for my generation: that of a dynamic woman, who enjoyed profoundly working hard in and for the sea, dared to speak her mind about how the discipline should move forward, and never lost her enthusiasm for good ideas.

Anna Demetriou

8AnnaI am a PhD candidate at the University of Cyprus. Being interested both in public and maritime archaeology, I investigate the ways shipwrecks are presented to and understood by contemporary societies. My thesis, ‘Ancient shipwreck sites in Cyprus: tracing the fragments of their biographies in the present’, approaches wreck-sites using the concept of the ‘cultural biography’ of objects, concentrating on what happened to them after their discovery. Focusing on three Cypriot sites, the Kyrenia (early 3rd century BC), Mazotos (4th century BC) and Nissia (19th century AD) shipwrecks, the study seeks to propose a re-negotiated axis of interpretation and public presentation, combining the prevalent approaches to shipwreck archaeological research and management, and the intermingling of meanings developed within contemporary society. I have been inspired by several generations of women, like Honor Frost, who have opened new paths in maritime archaeology, and I hope that the results of my work will contribute to the development of the field in Cyprus. I am grateful to share this goal with the HFF, from which I was privileged to be granted support for my studies.

Panel 5

Dr. Wendy van Duivenvoorde

KyreniaTektaş Burnu

9Maima(left) Wendy (right)
Omaima Eldeeb (left) with Dr. Wendy van Duivenvoorde (right)

Dr. Wendy van Duivenvoorde

I am an Associate Professor in Maritime Archaeology at Flinders University of South Australia. I met Honor Frost as an early career researcher. She instilled in me the importance of understanding past and present work and developments, in order to make a meaningful and contextualized contribution to the field—this is what I try to teach my students. The HFF has generously supported the UNESCO UNITWIN Network that I chair with my colleague Jonathan Benjamin, and the research efforts of Flinders University staff and PhD students in the eastern Mediterranean. I have mainly made contributions to our understanding of the archaeological remains of ships, the material science of those remains, and their historic context. I apply an interdisciplinary approach to the study and analysis of cultural material to re-create object biographies, understand ancient craftsmanship, and to reconstruct technologies lost to time. My research includes the study of ship fasteners and anchor remains of the Tektaş Burnu (±440–425 BC) and Kyrenia (3rd century BC) shipwrecks. Although our programme is Australia-based, we maintain an active research profile in Mediterranean maritime archaeology, with advanced research students working in the western, central, and eastern Mediterranean.

Omaima Eldeeb

My PhD student Omaima Eldeeb, from Egpyt, is an HFF supported scholar whose research focuses on shipwreck and amphorae sites along Alexandrian Coastline. Her innovative work applies a network framework to connect material provenance. According to Omaima: ‘Amphora studies may prove to be the best means of studying the country’s ancient past, especially in terms of its economy and its connectivity with other regions of the Mediterranean and beyond.’