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For Immediate Release: November 1, 2010
Contact: Gina Hebert, 508-289-7725; ghebert@mbl.edu

Underwater Archeologist to Discuss Search for Deep Sea Shipwrecks at MBL Falmouth Forum Kickoff Lecture, November 19

Dr. Brendan Foley

WOODS HOLE, MA—Shipwreck expert and underwater archaeologist Dr. Brendan Foley will explain his work to understand the invention of civilization by studying ancient shipwrecks at the MBL Falmouth Forum season opener Friday, November 19 at 7:30 p.m. in the MBL (Marine Biological Laboratory) Lillie Auditorium, 7 MBL Street, Woods Hole. The free lecture, titled "Archaeology in Deep Water," is sponsored by the MBL Associates. This season the Martha's Vineyard Savings Bank Charitable Fund also offers generous support to the MBL Falmouth Forum.

Ancient shipwrecks litter the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea. These wrecks are direct evidence of trade and communication between the earliest civilizations, a bonanza for archaeologists. However, until very recently, these sites were impossible to reach. With the use of advanced submarine robots and sensors, Dr. Foley and his colleagues at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) now have access to these wrecks. Working with partners in Greece, Egypt, Cyprus, and Algeria, Dr. Foley has begun to explore the sea's deepest regions. High-definition digital imagery, precise acoustic maps, and ancient DNA from artifacts are enabling scientists to reveal the earliest trade and exchange networks, the invention of civilization, and the birth of the modern world.

Dr. Foley is WHOI’s first formally trained shipwreck expert, with degrees in the history and archaeology of seafaring technology from the University of New Hampshire, Tufts, Southampton England, and MIT. He builds on WHOI’s long tradition of shipwreck investigations, from lost nuclear submarines to Titanic and Roman shipwrecks in the Mediterranean.

His research goal is to explain the invention of civilization by studying very ancient Mediterranean shipwrecks dating from the Bronze Age through Classical Greece—3000-300 B.C. With colleagues at WHOI and throughout Europe and North Africa, he has pioneered new methods and techniques for archaeology, including surveys with Autonomous Underwater Vehicles, 3D imaging, and identification of Classical Greek cargoes through ancient DNA analysis. With these techniques, the team has investigated dozens of ancient wrecks and glimpsed the origins of Western Civilization.

A buffet dinner is available before the lecture at 6:00 p.m. in the Swope Center located near the auditorium. Dinner tickets are $30 and must be purchased in advance at either Eight Cousins Children’s Books, Main Street, Falmouth, or at the MBL’s Communications Office in the Candle House, 127 Water Street in Woods Hole. Dinner seats are limited and tickets are only available until they sell out or until 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 16. All tickets are nonrefundable. For more information contact the MBL’s Communications Office at 508-289-7423.

All MBL Falmouth Forum lectures, performances and presentations are sponsored by the MBL Associates for the Cape Cod community and feature topics in the arts, humanities and health. They are always free and open to the public.

The series will continue throughout the winter. The remaining lectures in the series are:

January 11
"The European Colonial Empires in Historical Perspective" - Wm. Roger Louis, Kerr Professor of English History and Culture, University of Texas at Austin

January 28
"Intimacy in the Piano Music of Schumann and Chopin" - Robert Wyatt, Steinway Artist and Director of Music, Highfield Hall, Falmouth

March 11
"Pictures of the Brain Reveal the Structure of the Mind" - Nancy Kanwisher, Professor in the McGovern Institute for Brain Research, MIT

Date TBA
"Genocide and Problems of Identity" - Frances Deng, Special Advisor to the Secretary General for Prevention of Genocide, United Nations

For more information and for full lecture descriptions, visit http://hermes.mbl.edu/falmouthforum


The MBL is a leading international, independent, nonprofit institution dedicated to discovery and to improving the human condition through creative research and education in the biological, biomedical and environmental sciences. Founded in 1888 as the Marine Biological Laboratory, the MBL is the oldest private marine laboratory in the Americas. For more information, visit www.mbl.edu.

The MBL Associates are a group of individuals and businesses that support the scientific mission of the MBL through their gifts to the Annual Fund. The Associates sponsor educational and research programs for the MBL and raise funds for special projects. In addition, they operate the MBL Associates Gift Shop, located on Water Street in Woods Hole, the profits from which support scientific fellowships.