Item Details

Submarines in the Silent World: Exploring Films as an Archaeological Record

Issue: Vol 4 No. 1 (2017)

Journal: Journal of Contemporary Archaeology

Subject Areas: Archaeology

DOI: 10.1558/jca.30911

Abstract:

The wrecks of two Soviet submarines, the S7 and the SC-305, were discovered by private wreck-searching teams in 1998 and 2007 respectively. For more than half a century the whereabouts of the wrecks had remained a mystery. Drawing from the case of the two sunken Second World War submarines, this paper addresses the archaeological significance of moving-image documentation produced in non-archaeological contexts as a tool for interpreting the sites. What kind of research can archaeologists, denied direct access to a site, conduct through the use of film documentation gathered by nonarchaeologists? Is it possible to use films produced by divers or marine survey teams (non-archaeologists) to interpret underwater sites? Can film be considered an archaeological documentation method, and how can data gathered in this way be handled and interpreted? Moreover, how does the distance created though lack of physical contact with sites and the non-professional gathering of data affect the research and analysis? Our work indicates that using already existing film and photographic material, created for purposes other than archaeological documentation, can be a valuable source material for understanding past events as well as how archaeological sites are experienced today. We found that working with material created by non archaeologists had limitations, but it also opened up a whole new set of opportunities of viewing and understanding the sites.

Author: Mirja Arnshav, Anna McWilliams

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