Re-imagining Shipboard Societies: A Spatial Approach to Analyzing Ships of the British Royal Navy during the 18th and 19th Centuries
Investigation into underwater archaeology began, inevitably, with the investigation of shipwrecks. For decades whole divisions of our discipline have focused on studying the intricate characteristics and mechanisms involved in the propulsion, construction, and manipulation of ships themselves (e.g. nautical archaeology). However, as Mortimer Wheeler noted, “the archaeologist is digging up, not things, but people” (Wheeler 1954: 13), so how do we extract information about those crewing these ships from shipwrecks? In this study I examine the spatial organization of ships in an effort to reconstruct the social dynamics of shipboard society. Shipwrecks are often the result of site formation processes that ‘spill’ the artifacts that are integral to our ability to describe shipboard life. In order to adequately examine the nuances of shipboard culture we must combine an understanding of the material culture associated with shipwrecks with an exploration of the structures of the ships themselves. The quantitative and qualitative investigation of socio-spatial organization has been engaged for several decades within the fields of architecture and urban planning. In particular, the theories and methods of space syntax analysis have been utilized to successfully examine the relationships between spatial organization and social interaction within an urban context. Moreover, these techniques have been proven effective for the investigation of archaeological material as well. In this study I utilize these existing tools and apply them to the study of ships and shipboard culture. Through a spatial understanding of ship structures I will suggest connections between spatial organization and social relationships aboard ships, and the culture of shipboard societies as a whole.
Anthropology, Archaeology, History, History--European, History--Military
Moloney, M. J. (2015). Re-imagining Shipboard Societies: A Spatial Approach to Analyzing Ships of the British Royal Navy during the 18th and 19th Centuries (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from https://prism.ucalgary.ca. doi:10.11575/PRISM/27594