Saturday, April 23, 2022 • 1-2:30 p.m.
Robert Hohlfelder, Professor Emeritus, History
The chance recovery of objects from the sea began in antiquity and continues until the present. It was not until the late 1950’s that salvage was transformed to science. Professor Emeritus Robert Hohlfelder’s career has coincided with the evolution of this branch of archaeology, from his first underwater exploration in 1964 using rented surplus US Navy SCUBA gear to surveying the ocean floor in a state-of-the-art underwater submersible in this century.
In his CU on the Weekend talk, Professor Hohlfelder will discuss five episodes from his 50 + underwater explorations in the Mediterranean and Red Seas. These include: the 1964 discovery of a huge cache of decorative 4th century AD glass panels; the uncovering of remarkable Roman engineering at Caesarea Maritima in Israel in 1978; Hohlfelder’s 1990 unraveling of the mystery of how Roman ceramic storage containers had levitated from the ocean floor to form the ceiling of an underwater cave in Cyprus; two harrowing moments 1000+ feet below the ocean surface in a two-person submersible while searching for ancient shipwrecks in the Aegean Sea in 2004; and finally, the most dangerous episode of all Hohlfelder’s years in the field—something that happened in southeastern Turkey in 2009. In the process of sharing these memories, Hohlfelder will provide some understanding of how maritime archaeology has opened a new window to view our ancient past.
Robert Hohlfelder is a professor emeritus and former chair of the Department of History at the University of Colorado Boulder. His special research interests are in ancient maritime history, the world of late antiquity and ancient numismatics. Throughout his career, Hohlfelder has written or edited eight books, over 120 articles, and 60+ reviews with his co-authored book published in August 2014, Building for Eternity: The History and Technology of Roman Engineering in the Sea, reprinted in 2021. He has presented more than 155 papers at professional conferences in 13 countries and given more than 335 public lectures at universities and museums around the world. Professor Hohlfelder has received numerous prestigious honors and awards. He currently serves as a member of the UNESCO/ICOMOS International Committee on Archaeological Heritage Management and as a liaison between ICAHM and the International Committee on the Underwater Cultural Heritage. Hohlfelder is currently working on a book to be entitled, The Julio-Claudian Emperors and the Sea: Building a Maritime Infrastructure as a Nexus of the Roman Empire.