Underwater Archaeologist

Dr. Peter B. Campbell

PhD in Archaeology
National Geographic Explorer
Explorers Club Fellow


Peter is Lecturer in Archaeology at Cranfield University, where he directs the MSc Investigation of Heritage Crime. He has led archaeological missions in eight countries, exploring shipwrecks and aircraft, sunken cities, and underwater caves. He has written articles for the New York Times, Bloomberg, and Guardian, and appeared in documentaries on BBC, History, and National Geographic.

The great age of discovery is now.

Heritage Crime

There is an urgent threat to culture worldwide from looting, trafficking, and targeted destruction. Since 2010, Peter has investigated trafficking, publishing popular and academic pieces, as well as working with organizations like OSCE, INTERPOL, Carabinieri, and more. Currently, he is preparing a textbook on heritage crime investigation for graduate students and front-line officers.

Underwater Archaeology

Peter holds MA and PhD degrees in maritime archaeology, and has directed projects in the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, and inland waters. His projects include shipwrecks, aircraft, sunken cities, underwater caves, and rivers. The results of these projects are shared in academic publications and popular documentaries. 


Peter has taught university and avocational courses at various levels. He is the course director for the MSc Investigation of Heritage Crime at Cranfield University. Currently the only degree in heritage crime investigation, the program introduces students to the different types of crimes against culture and the forensic methods to document crime scenes.


Battle of the Egadi Islands (241 BC)

The waters off western Sicily saw the final battle of the first Punic War between Rome and Carthage. It is the only known ancient naval battle discovered to date.

Shipwrecks of the Fournoi Archipelago

In the small Greek archipelago of Fournoi, the largest concentration (58) of ancient shipwrecks has been discovered.

Underwater Survey of the Tiber River

The Tiber was Rome’s connection to its empire. The archaeological remains submerged in the river reveal infrastructure, shipping, and more.

Albanian Coastal Survey

Albania has among the best preserved underwater cultural heritage in the Mediterranean, as diving was outlaw under the dictatorship. The result is well-preserved shipwrecks from every period.

Montenegrin Maritime Archaeological Project

The Montenegrin coastal survey revealed Roman and Byzantine routes connecting the Bar region to the Mediterranean.

Pavlopetri Submerged City Excavation

The oldest known sunken city (Late Neolithic to Late Bronze Age), Pavlopetri demonstrates the dynamic coastal changes that cities face.

HL Hunley Submarine

The HL Hunley sank USS Housatonic in 1864; however, the submarine itself disappeared. Raised in 2000, the vessel is being studied to understand its fate. 

Swedish Warship Vasa

During its maiden voyage in 1628, the Vasa sank in Stockholm harbour. Raised in the 1960s, study of the intact warship continues in its world-famous museum.

Ironclads Neuse and Jackson

The ironclads Neuse and Jackson, located in NC and GA, were destroyed during the Civil War and raised in the 1960s.

Latest News

Contemporary Philosophy for Maritime Archaeology

Contemporary Philosophy for Maritime Archaeology: Flat Ontologies, Oceanic Thought, and the Anthropocene brings together philosophers, archaeologists, media theorists, and more to re-examine maritime archaeology in light of contemporary philosophy, including Object-Oriented Ontology, New Materialism, and Symmetrical Archaeology. While terrestrial archaeology has engaged with contemporary philosophy, maritime archaeology has remained in comparative disciplinary isolation. However, the issues that humans face in the Anthropocene call for thinking together beyond the confines of the human-centered philosophical tradition. Growing areas such as the “blue humanities” and “oceanic thinking” draw directly on our maritime past, even as they ponder the future.




2021 Campbell, P., The Anthropocene, Hyperobjects, and the Archaeology of the Future Past. Antiquity 95(383): 1315-1330.

2020 Campbell, P., Kay, S., Keay, S., & Pomar, E., Fieldwork at Portus (Commune di Fiumicino, Provincia di Roma, Regione Lazio). Papers of the British School at Rome 88:358-362.

2020 Campbell, P., The Sea as a Hyperobject: Moving Beyond Maritime Cultural Landscapes. Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies 8(3): 1–22.

2018 Richards, N., P. Campbell, C. Mires, & J. Hoyt, 2018, The Meyer’s Boatyard Vessel, Bermuda: the investigation of an M-class gunboat built 1876. International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 48(1):208-230.

2013  Campbell, P., The Illicit Antiquities Trade as a Transnational Criminal Network: Characterizing and Anticipating the Trafficking of Cultural Heritage. Int. Journal of Cultural Property 20(2): 113-53.

2013 Richards, N. & P. Campbell, The Myers Slip Vessel, Part 1: The Historical Significance of the M-Class Gunboats. Bermuda Journal of Archaeology and Maritime History 20(1): 182-204.


2022 Campbell, P., Contingent Seas: Seafaring, Contracts and Law. In Roman Law and Maritime Commerce (P. Candy & E. Mataix Ferrándiz, eds), pp 23-40. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

2021 Campbell, P. & G. Koutsouflakis, Aegean Navigation and the Shipwrecks of Fournoi: The Archipelago in Context. In Under the Mediterranean I: Studies in Maritime Archaeology (S. Demesticha & L. Blue, eds), pp. 271-290. Leiden: Sidestone Press.

2021 Keay, S., P. Campbell, K. Crawford, & M. del Carmen Moreno Escobar, Space, Accessibility and Movement through the Portus Romae, In Space, Movement and the Economy in Roman Cities in Italy and Beyond (F. Vermeulen & A. Zuiderhoek, eds), pp. 375-418. New York: Routledge.

2019 Campbell, P. & K.A. Paul, Funding Conflict Through Cultural Property: The Destruction and Trafficking of Culture Heritage by Islamic State. In Dealing with Terrorism: Empirical and Normative Challenges of Fighting Islamic State (M. Engelhart & S. Roksandić Vidlička, eds), pp. 117-141. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot.

Current Research

Deepwater Archaeology

Advances in marine survey technology has opened new opportunities for deepwater archaeology. The use of remotely-operated vehicles (ROVs) and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) have made low-cost, large-scale survey of depths greater traditional diving limits (50m) effective. Surveys such as the Battle of the Egadi Islands and Albanian Coastal Survey have demonstrated the potential of deepwater archaeology, uncovering the only known ancient naval battle and dozens of ancient shipwrecks. This research is managed and funded by RPM Nautical Foundation. 

Ancient Navigation

Maritime archaeology first developed in the Mediterranean region; however, there are still many ancient shipwrecks to discover. This research examines navigation in the ancient world through shipwreck evidence, with over a hundred wrecks discovered during surveys in Albania, Greece, Italy, and Montenegro. Besides documenting movement through trade items, Peter is developing a theory of movement to understand the social impacts of maritime movement in markets and communities. This funded by the Honor Frost Foundation, RPM Nautical Foundation, and private donors. 


River have been called the ‘dark matter’ of landscape archaeology and they remain understudied. Despite centuries of discoveries in rivers, systematic geophysical survey in rivers is rare. This research examines the Tiber (Italy), Nile (Egypt), and Mambi (Tanzania). In partnership with the British School at Rome, Alexandria University, Honor Frost Foundation, Parco di Ostia Antica, and Soprintendenza del Mare, this research is funded by the Honor Frost Foundation, Society of Antiquaries of London, British School at Rome, and National Geographic.

Coastal Communities

My practice has always begun with collaboration with coastal communities, notably fishers in Albania, Italy, Greece, Jamaica, and the US. The current research focuses on coastal communities in southern Tanzania, especially the search for Mongalo, a missing city and kingdom. It aims to reclaim past narratives from colonial historiography. In partnership with Dar es Salaam University, Tumaini University, and Transylvania University, in addition to Cranfield, this research is funded by the AHRC through Rising from the Depths and Imagining Futures.

Media Projects

Film and Radio

– 2022, Lost Treasures of Rome, National Geographic

– 2021, Drain the Oceans, Venice’s Lost Empire, National Geographic

– 2021, Ancient Unexplained Files, Science Channel

– 2020, Mysteries of the Deep, Discovery

– 2019, Drain the Oceans, The Rise of the Roman Empire, National Geographic

– 2018, Drain the Oceans, Lost Worlds of the Mediterranean, National Geographic

– 2016, Ancient Top Ten, History Channel

– 2017, How Much of Human History is on the Bottom of the Ocean?, TED Ed

– 2017, Are Ghost Ships Real?, TED Ed

– 2016, Real Life Sunken Cities, TED Ed

– 2015, The Past, Present and Future of Shipping, BBC World Service, Dec 17


Campbell, P., 2017, New underwater discoveries in Greece reveal ancient Roman engineering, The Guardian, December 14

– Campbell, P., 2017, The climate has changed before. But this is different – look at the archaeological record, The Guardian, November 9

– Campbell, P., 2017, What mysteries could be unlocked by new Antikythera shipwreck finds?, The Guardian, October 10

– Campbell, P., 2017, Archaeology and blockchain: a social science data revolution?, The Guardian, October 2

– Campbell, P., 2017, ‘Those are our Eiffel Towers, our pyramids’: Why Standing Rock is about much more than oil, The Guardian, May 15

– Campbell, P., 2017, The first Brexit: Submerged landscapes of the North Sea and Channel, The Guardian, April 26

Campbell, P., 2016, Wartime shipwrecks are being illegally salvaged, Guardian, December 20

– Campbell, P., 2015, Could Shipwrecks Lead the World to War?, New York Times, December 18

– Campbell, P., 2014, More Archaeological Finds Coming Through Tech, Discovery News, October 4

– Campbell, P. & R. Pacheo-Ruiz, 2014, Treasuring Hunting is the World’s Worst Investment, Bloomberg, May 7