Nicolas Ponzone

The Department of Maritime Civilizations, academically linked to the Faculty of Humanities, provides students with an exceptional opportunity to explore the history, archaeology and fabric of maritime societies, as well as the natural environment in which they developed and currently exist.

The studies in the Department will focus on a variety of fields pertaining to maritime civilizations and the marine environment, including coastal and underwater archaeology, marine biology and ecology, maritime history, geology and geomorphology.

Through field trips, field-based courses and research, the interdisciplinary studies offer advanced knowledge and research training to students interested in exploring human interactions with the sea. Special emphasis is placed on harbors, ships and seafaring as part of the maritime heritage of the Mediterranean. The Department of Maritime Civilizations is a unique institution combining interdisciplinary study of the Humanities and Sciences to provide a comprehensive approach to the investigation of coasts and the sea. The Department offers graduate studies (M.A., Ph.D.) within the fields of Coastal and Underwater Archaeology, Maritime History, Coastal and Marine Geomorphology, Marine Biology and Sea Resources. The Department’s aim is to provide students with interdisciplinary knowledge within each of the proposed study fields, including: Understanding of cultures in which reliance upon the sea was the crux of their development, with particular emphasis on ancient and medieval Mediterranean and Red Sea cultures. This will be achieved through studies of environmental geography, archeology and history of the related cultures. Understanding of the oceanographic, ecological and geomorphological conditions of the coast as well as of the open ocean, with particular emphasis on the ways these conditions have influenced the development of maritime cultures. Hands-on practice in coastal and open-water research methods within the fields of Maritime Archeology, Marine Biology and Ecology and Marine Geomorphology along with proficiency in bibliographical methodology in the field of Maritime History. Graduates from the Department of Maritime Civilizations have enjoyed a broad range of career destinations, from academic research through work in private and governmental sectors.

Coastal and Underwater Archaeology

Underwater, nautical and coastal archaeology are devoted to the study of human cultures and maritime activities, especially in the Mediterranean context. In the Department of Maritime Civilizations, students study coastal settlements, harbours, remains of shipwrecks and cargoes, as well as art and literary sources. Numerous sites along the Israeli Mediterranean coast, including Caesarea Maritima, the Tantura Lagoon, Dor, Nami, Atlit, Abu Hawam and Akko (Acre) offer a unique opportunity for coastal and underwater archeological research. These studies are carried out with the support and close co-operation of the staff, laboratories and the maritime workshop of the Recanati Institute of Maritime Studies (RIMS).

Maritime History

The study of maritime history covers periods ranging from ancient times to recent historical periods, focusing on maritime trade and legal and military history. Study and research are based on written sources such as classical literature and poetry, coins, inscriptions and other written documents. The main goal of maritime history within the Department of Maritime Civilizations is to investigate the Mediterranean as a network of ports, maritime empires and seafaring routes.

Coastal and Marine Geomorphology

Within the Department of Maritime Civilizations, an interdisciplinary approach is implemented when studying coastal and marine geomorphology. Sedimentological, stratigraphical, geophysical and ecological analyses are used, as well as archaeological and historical data in order to reconstruct past coastal environments and past locations of the coastline over geological and historical time scales. Reconstructing the past environmental conditions is essential for a better understanding of human settlement processes. Given recent concerns about global environmental changes, such research provides clues about how coastal environments might affect humankind in the future.

Marine Ecology and Marine Resources

Students studying marine ecology at the Department of Maritime Civilizations are engaged in field and laboratory research of organisms ranging from sponges to marine mammals. Scientific research focuses on understanding current and recent/historical ecological processes, in the context of global and regional/local change. Moreover, graduate students learn how humankind exploited sea life in the past, and explore the ways to continue using coastal and oceanic resources in a sustainable way.