Project: Underwater realms. Concepts of underwater spatiality in the ancient Eastern Mediterranean

  • Principal Investigator:
    Dr. Mari Yamasaki


    Project term:

    January 2023 to December 2024


    PLN 743 905


    Polonez BIS grant 2021/43/P/HS3/01355, co-funded by the National Science Centre and the European Union Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020 under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement no. 945339.

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  • UnReal: Underwater realms. Concepts of underwater spatiality in the ancient Eastern Mediterranean

    Keywords: Mediterranean archaeology; cognitive archaeology; sensory archaeology; underwater; Bronze Age; Iron Age

    This project aims to investigate concepts of underwater spatiality in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean in the course of the second and first millennium BCE. It will consider the cognitive and experiential dimensions of submarine spaces, both real and imagined, proceeding with the analysis and (re-)interpretation of the known accounts of underwater settings. It will thus on one hand evaluate the written and depicted attestations about freedivers, and on the other consider underwater iconography and material culture, in particular representations of marine fauna and
    underwater landscapes.

    The first objective is to understand how underwater spatiality was constructed, both within an underwater domain and in relation to land settings. The second objective is to understand in what way the real, freediving experiences are included into narratives of underwater realms. Finally, from a methodological standpoint, the project aims at combining archaeological and textual analysis with approaches deriving from the cognitive sciences. By harmonizing real and imagined underwater spaces through the tools offered by cognitive psychology and philosophy, it will be possible to glimpse into a yet unexplored area in the field of ancient studies, and this project constitutes a first attempt to understand the perception of the ancient sea from a full, three-dimensional perspective, introducing new depths to our knowledge of the ancient Mediterranean cultures.

    Associated events:
    Lectures and conference presentations:

    22nd–26th May, 2023: lecture “Like fish in the water. Fish representations as means to understand spatial concepts” at the 13th International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East (ICAANE). University of Copenhagen and online.

    23rd March, 2023: PCMA Seminar: “Underwater realms – imagining and conceptualizing the sea as a 3D space”

    Project bibliography:



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