Underwater archaeology is a branch of archaeology which is practised underwater. The discipline has been accepted relatively late compared to the other branches of archaeology due to the difficulty of accessing underwater sites and the lack of analytical tools. Therefore, underwater archaeology struggled to establish itself as a discipline; nevertheless, the situation changed when universities started offering it as an academic discipline. Nowadays, underwater archaeology has its own branches such as maritime archaeology which studies the human interactions with seas, rivers and lakes.
Underwater archaeology is usually associated with the study of the shipwreck. However, the discipline focuses also on the changes of the sea levels due to climate changes or seismic events, as well as the remains of water animals such as mammoths. As well as this, underwater archaeology includes the study of submerged indigenous sites and places which have been covered by the water due to the rising of the sea level, as well as the analysis of cenotes, wells, wecks and structures created in water.
The discipline is usually complementary to terrestrial archaeological research as these subjects are linked by different elements including social, political and economic considerations.
Different are the techniques which have been developed to study sites underwater. These include position fixing, site survey, recording, excavation, artefact recovery, and conservation and interpretation of underwater objects.
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