Wednesday, 8 January 2014

At the bottom of the sea -- part 1

Shipwreck of the Minotaur
J. M. W. Turner, circa 1810
Last night, I was looking for something to watch on Netflix and I came across the first season of Discovery Channel's Treasure Quest. I had not seen this series before, but had heard quite a bit about the company that the shows profiled: Odyssey Marine Exploration, and I knew one of the marine archaeologists on their ship, Dr Sean Kingsley. Sean had previously been the managing editor of Minerva Magazine and had invited me to write an article summarizing my book Celtic Improvisations, which at that time existed only as a series of web pages. We have never met, communicating only by email and phone, but Sean was instrumental in the book's eventual publication by Archaeopress at Oxford. As a summary was impossible given the word limit, I suggested that it should instead focus on my experience of doing the research and writing the book. Sean agreed, and it was published as Celtic Improvisations: the coins of the Coriosolites, January/February 2002, p. 54-56. The book was published that same year.

The show thoroughly captured my attention and it was about 1 a.m when I decided that I should take a break from it and get some sleep, but my mind was racing with all sorts of ideas for this series and it was a couple of hours before I was able to sleep. It was not just the idea of recovering sunken treasure ships and Odysseys' projects that interested me, but thoughts of marine conservation and the importance of sea life on planetary systems and also what inspires people to seek treasures and how this is expressed even in such pedestrian activities as buying lottery tickets.

I have always been fascinated by the sea, and if I had my life to live over again, would probably like to spend it as a marine biologist specializing in cephalopods, a class of mollusc mostly unencumbered by confusing shells (often, very similar shells can have quite different creatures inside, but the taxonomy is still based on shell shape and patterns).

So this series will start with the projects of Odyssey Marine Exploration and their impact on various people and governments but will continue with a wide array of other other topics, all linked by the title: at the bottom of the sea.

Today's post is a bit short -- just an introduction, really, as I have a very busy day ahead of me, but we will dive right in tomorrow ;-)

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