Sea Change

Maritime Archeological perspectives on human response to shore displacement. A comparative study.

Project manager

Rönnby, Johan - Professor

Project type



Sea Change is a marine archeological research program that in the broadest sense wants to contribute to our knowledge about perhaps our most important survival and contemporary question: how should we act in relation to today's dramatic environmental changes? Responsible for the work is Professor Johan Rönnby, Södertörn University. The three different archeological field studies of settlements by the water included in the program are however done in cooperation with several other colleagues, institutions and projects. This cooperation includes Bulgarian Center of Underwater Archeology Sozopol, Bulgarian National Archaeological Institute with Museum, Uppsala University, Fornsalen Gotland, Västervik Museum, Southampton University and University of Connecticut. The project has logistic support from the foundation VOTO (Voice of the Ocean).

The long-term perspective of archeology makes it possible to illuminate and understand man's relationship to the environment in completely different times than our own. In addition, the marine archaeological source material is usually unusually well preserved, both in terms of untouched layers and structures and organic material. This provides a unique sharpness of detail when it comes to environmental changes and people’s practical actions in relation to them on a specific place. Based on this, the study has the ambition to show the wide range of approaches and strategies that have existed for millennia in relation to sea level changes and maritime environmental changes. Conclusions from this will be related to today's discussion and choice of environmental strategies.

The program is multidisciplinary and combines the maritime archeological perspective with, among other things, geographical analysis, environmental description and osteology. An unusual perspective in the field of maritime archeology is that the studie does not focus on a specific object (usually a shipwreck) but touches on several different source materials and sites and also has a general environmental goal as its purpose.

The Sea Change program consists of three different independent archaeological studies Ropotamo (Black sea), Gotska Sandön (Baltic Sea) and Gamlebyviken (Baltic Sea). By comparing three completely different places, one of which is also geographically very far from the other two, the study wants to highlight different human strategies and choices in relation to the environment. However, the three projects are united regarding that they are all about people's relationship to a changing sea and marine environment. Important in the different field studies is also archeology's unique opportunity to study a coastal site over a long period of time, both in terms of the change in the natural environment and human actions.

Bulgarian Center of Underwater Archeology Sozopol
Bulgarian National Archaeological Institute with Museum
Uppsala university
Fornsalen Gotland
Västervik museum
University of Southampton
University of Connecticut

Research area / geographic area

MARIS Baltic Sea region and Eastern Europe Baltic Europe


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