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Underwater Archeology

Maryland Maritime Archeology Program

Maryland Maritime Archeology Program

As part of the state Department of Planning and housed in the Maryland Historical Trust, the Maryland Maritime Archeology Program (MMAP) was created in 1988 in response to the National Abandoned Shipwreck Act which gave states that had management programs in place, title to significant historic shipwreck remains within their waters. In addition to shipwrecks, the MMAP searches for, inventories and manages the State's other submerged cultural resources. These include prehistoric sites, historic structures such as buildings, bridge, and wharf remains. Maryland’s waters cover a range of vessels from native log canoes to colonial merchantmen and warships, and even relatively modern shipwrecks of historic importance.

MMAP actively undertakes cooperative endeavors with numerous groups and agencies at local, state, and federal levels to promote wise management as well as public education and outreach. These partnerships include the U.S. Navy; the National Park Service; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; the Maryland State Highway Administration; the Maryland Department of Natural Resources; maritime, historical and archeological societies; dive clubs; metal detecting groups; and local and regional schools.


U-1105 Black Panther before sinking in the Potomac River 
                                     in St. Mary’s County, Maryland

U-1105 "Black Panther" Historic Shipwreck Preserve

In addition to finding and studying submerged cultural resources, MMAP actively manages individual and collections of sites.  The U-1105 Black Panther Historic Shipwreck Preserve is an example of a submerged site that the MHT manages through and agreement with the U.S. Navy.

» LEARN MORE ABOUT U-1105


Volunteers

Most of the work that MMAP carries out would not be possible without the help and support of volunteers.

Volunteers need not be interested in diving, as archeological surveys and data management requires skills in boat handling, recording of artifacts, and a range of computer skills.

» Volunteering with the Maritime Program


Artifacts and hull 
                                     remains from Columbus, after conservation at the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab 
                                     at the Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum

Laws and Regulations

State and federal laws protect submerged historic and archeological resources located on Maryland bottomlands. In Maryland, State waters include tidal waters up to the mean high tide line and three miles from the coastline, and non-tidal waters within the boundaries of the state that were navigable under the laws of the United States as of April 28, 1788, up to the ordinary high water mark. The MHT regulates and manages all prehistoric and historic cultural remains in, partially in, or submerged beneath State waters. Additionally, MMAP is responsible for the administration of the Submerged Archeological Historic Property Act and its implementing regulations as well as applications for research, recovery, or construction projects, site assessments, and evaluations for National Register eligibility. MMAP also assists governmental agencies and their program clients to meet their statutory historic preservation responsibilities through the project review and compliance process.

» Click here for information on permits for archeology on submerged cultural resources


Staff and Resources

Dr. Langley during hardhat diver
                                     training

The Maryland Maritime Archeology Program (MMAP) staff include Dr. Susan Langley and Troy Nowak, who have over 40 years combined experience in conducting remote-sensing surveys and excavating submerged archeological resources around the world. Both scientists are SCUBA certified and have specialized experience in the documentation of shipwreck structures in the underwater environment.

MMAP is a fully functional scientific unit with numerous research vessels; diving, surveying and excavation equipment; and specialized software used to find and study Maryland’s submerged history.


Research Projects

MMAP works continuously to survey and study the wide variety of submerged cultural resources that are located on or under Maryland’s bottomlands. Information from these projects is made available to the public in the form of survey and archeological reports, informational brochures, posters, and exhibits.