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With the advent of new digital site recording technologies, archaeologists must manage spatial and visual datasets that have grown far beyond the capacity of last century’s paper notebooks. Turning to purely digital recording systems (“going paperless”) in underwater archaeology presents a different set of challenges from terrestrial archaeology and requires a specialized toolkit. The Pladypos prototype, an autonomous surface vehicle, responds to the need for underwater archaeological site mapping tools to be simple, robust, highly portable, and—where appropriate—to coordinate its operations effectively with human divers and tablet-based digital recording systems. Over several days in 2014, the Pladypos was deployed to map the Herodian port structures at Caesarea Maritima, Israel, one of the Mediterranean’s most important submerged coastal sites. In 2015, this mission was expanded to support the excavation of the site of a possible 11th-century a.d. Fatimid shipwreck found near the southern breakwater of Caesarea’s outer harbor.

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The Digital Press @ University of North Dakota


Grand Forks, North Dakota


autonomous surface vehicle, Caesarea Maritima, cognitive robots, Israel, marine robotics, shipwreck, site recording, underwater archaeology


Classical Archaeology and Art History


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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

2.4. An ASV (Autonomous Surface Vehicle) for Archaeology: The Pladypos at Caesarea Maritima, Israel