Thursday, June 21, 2007

 

Noted archaeologist to speak today in Winona

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Winona Daily News
By Janelle McDonald
September 06, 2007


Living along the mighty Mississippi, it is not unusual to see barges traveling up and down the river. These ships are an essential part of everyday life, but how much is known about them or the ships that have traveled before them?

Nautical archaeologists like Kevin Crisman study the remains of boat and shipwrecks and the societies that created and used them.

Crisman, associate professor of nautical archaeology at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas has been excavating shipwrecks since the late 1970s.

Crisman will speak at 6:30 p.m. today in Somsen Auditorium on the Winona State University campus. His speech will examine the transition from wind powered ships to steam powered vessels and how the transition changed the North American society and economy during the first half of the 19th century.

His specialty is ships of the last 500 years and he has investigated numerous wrecks including naval ships, horse ferries and shipwrecks of the War of 1812. Since 2002, he has been directing the excavation of the “Heroine,” a steamboat built in 1832 that was discovered under a cow pasture in Swink, Okla.

“You can learn so much more about the past by

looking at the material that’s left behind rather than looking in the history books,” he said. “The great thing about archaeology is it sometimes lets you tell the stories about people that didn’t get written down. We maybe can’t name them, but we can tell what their life was like.”

Crisman’s speech, “Something New Under the Sun: An Archeological View of Steam Power on North American Waters,” is part of WSU’s Lyceum Series and will coincide with the Minnesota Marine Art Museum’s current collection titled “Wood and Wind to Steel and Steam.”

The collection is part of the Burrichter-Kierlin exhibit of marine paintings and artifacts that will be on display until Nov. 25.

Jon Swanson, curator of collections and exhibits at the museum, was a student at Texas A&M, where Crisman teaches, and worked with Crisman on the Red River project.

“He’s very passionate about what he does,” Swanson said as he described Crisman’s work ethic. “He loves research, he loves doing field work and diving.”

Admission to Crisman’s speech is $2 for the public and is free for Minnesota Marine Art Museum members, and students, faculty and staff of area colleges and universities.


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