Matthew Harpster is a Marie Curie Fellow at the Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies at the University of Birmingham, having worked and studied in the US, Cyprus, Turkey and the UK. In particular, between 2006 and 2013 he was based at the Eastern Mediterranean University in northern Cyprus, giving him access to a number of sites off the beaten track. Matthew’s training and experience has mainly been in marine archaeology and he is currently working on a new interpretation of Mediterranean shipping on the basis of shipwreck evidence. This work was prompted by the unique political and legal environment of northern Cyprus.
In addition to his participation in coastal surveys at Siraf, Iran, and his project modelling the maritime landscape at Boğsak, Turkey, his current research efforts as a Marie Curie Fellow focus on the method and theory of maritime archaeology, the history of the discipline in the Mediterranean region, and promoting an alternative approach to the interpretation and modelling of maritime communities in the ancient Mediterranean.
Following the completion of his Ph.D. research on the design and construction of the 9th-century AD merchant ship lost near Bozburun, Turkey, Matthew was awarded a postdoctoral position at the Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology at MIT, prior to beginning as an Assistant Professor of Archaeology at Eastern Mediterranean University, in Famagusta, Cyprus, in 2006. From 2010 to 2013, he directed the Kyrenia Shipwreck Collection Restoration Program.
Between 2006 and 2013, Matthew’s life in northern Cyprus placed him in the unique position of practicing maritime archaeology within a region considered to be militarily-occupied territory by most of the international community; whereas the Republic of Cyprus in southern Cyprus is a state recognized by the United Nations, the sovereignty of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is recognized only by Turkey. While in northern Cyprus, he worked with the Nautical Archaeology Society to implement the first and only Bi-Communal training program dedicated to educating the public on the necessity of protecting the island’s maritime heritage, conducted the first international underwater surveys off the northern coastline in three decades and, working with the European Commission, the United Nations Development Program, UNESCO, ICOMOS-ICUCH, and the US Embassy, coordinated the Kyrenia Shipwreck Collection Restoration Program. This effort successfully gathered the necessary political and financial support to implement efforts to stabilize, maintain and exhibit the collection of material comprising the Kyrenia shipwreck lost off the northern coast of Cyprus in the 4th century BC, a symbol of Cyprus to the world.
The whole archive of images from Matthew’s research and field work can be reached here.
Images are made available under a Creative Commons licence permitting non-commercial, no derivatives reproduction with attribution. The attribution is:
Image [unique Flickr identifier and name of site], by Matthew Harpster, digitised by the Birmingham East Mediterranean Archive, Creative Commons 3.0.
The unique Flickr identifier can be found at the end of the URL of the appropriate image, for example: