September 05, 2014, BY Heather Johns

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Welcome to "Cool Classes," a regular feature that highlights the interesting, intriguing and unexpected in Bucknell University's course catalog.

What class? CLAS 253: Ancient Ships and Seafaring

Who teaches it? Professor Kris Trego, classics & ancient Mediterranean studies

"What makes this class so cool? Two words: underwater archaeology! This course will not only introduce students to the maritime history of ancient Greece and Rome, but a significant component of the course will focus on the discipline of maritime archaeology. This class is all about discovery and exploration: from discovering shipwrecks to exploring uncharted territories, and from questioning assumptions to testing new theories.

"Although this is a course on the ancient world, nearly everything we do will be interconnected with the present. We'll explore questions that expand beyond the technical and into the ethical: Who owns history? Who should claim ownership over cultural materials? Does ancient culture belong to everyone or does it belong to modern nations where discoveries are made? How do politics come into play when interpreting the past? What ethical concerns must be addressed when archaeologists, modern inhabitants of an area, political entities and/or treasure hunters collide?

"While the underwater explorations and excavations are often what pique students' interest, I want them to come away from the course with an understanding of the methodologies from the diverse disciplines used in this field and realize that discovery, excavation and interpretation cannot occur in a vacuum. Rather, it depends on technologies and input from a myriad of fields including physical sciences, engineering, international law and political science.

"I think many students are surprised at how complex and exciting the field of maritime archaeology is, and how it is far more than trying to decipher how ancient ships were built, sailed and used. This course will challenge students intellectually — as well as, I hope, encourage them to wrestle with difficult ethical questions."

See what else is being offered by the Department of Classics & Ancient Mediterranean Studies.

Are we missing out on a cool class? Send suggestions to