Dr. Cheryl Ward
Director, Center for Archaeology and Anthropology
Associate Professor of History, Maritime Archaeologist
Coastal Carolina University
Sorting 13,000 flakes and chips of obsidian excavated from an early quarry in Ecuador under the direction of Dr. William J. Mayer-Oakes at Texas Tech University convinced me that archaeology would always offer challenges and demand creativity on the way to understanding more about how and why ancient people did what they did. Since then, my research has taken me to the deserts of Egypt, toxic and oxygen-free waters in the deep Black Sea, and to the bottom of four great seas.
At Coastal Carolina University, I am excited to be part of a new Center for Archaeology and Anthropology. Using interdisciplinary research, three new faculty members will establish projects exploring the lives and lifeways of modern and ancient peoples. Focused on the Low Country of South Carolina and its unique heritage, the Center also incorporates a global perspective.
My research examines the ability of humans to expand their cultural and
physical horizons by exploring the origin, elaboration, and impact of
technology on society by studying the remains of wooden boats and ships. By circumstance, opportunity and design, much of my research targets some of the oldest existing ships and boats, those buried in the deserts of Egypt between 5,000 and 2,500 years ago. The first pictures of sails in the entire world come from ancient Egypt, and the innovative process may be examined directly through the remains of complex technological artifacts that span 3000 years. The reconstruction of an ancient Egyptian ship and its voyage expand our perceptions of the Egyptians as a maritime people on the Red Sea.
I also study plant remains, predominantly from shipwreck sites, as a means to learn more about ancient and historic seafaring, exchange, and society. Rather than simply producing reports with species lists, I am interested in discovering the cultural and ecological significance of different plants and plant products used and transported by sea.