Nathan Richards


  • Associate Professor, Director of Maritime Studies
  • Ph.D., Flinders University
  • Office:  Eller House 100
  • Email:
  • Phone:  Eller:  252.328.1968
  • Fax:  252.328.6754

Dr. Richards specializes in maritime archaeological theory and method with a focus on cultural site formation processes of the archaeological record. He has an interest 19th and 20th century maritime history, the history of technology, and in comparative and anthropological approaches to maritime archaeological subjects. He has been involved in field schools run by Departments of Archaeology at Flinders University (South Australia), and James Cook University (Queensland), and has been employed in cultural heritage management work by the State Governments of South Australia and Tasmania. His research has appeared in the Bulletin of the Australasian Institute for Maritime Archaeology, The Great Circle (the journal of the Australian Association for Maritime History), the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, the Bermuda Journal of Maritime History and Archaeology, and Historical Archaeology as well other journal articles, book chapters, and numerous reports and reviews. He is co-author (with Robyn Hartell) of The Garden Island Ships’ Graveyard Maritime Heritage Trail (Government of South Australia, 2001), author of Ships’ Graveyards: Abandoned Watercraft and the Archaeological Formation Process (University Press of Florida, 2008), and co-editor of The Archaeology of Watercraft Abandonment (with Sami Seeb, Springer Press, 2013). Dr. Richards is an active member of the Australasian Institute for Maritime Archaeology (serving on their editorial board, and their newsletter editor 2001-2006) and the Australian Association for Maritime History. He is a former Associate Editor for the journal Historical Archaeology, and currently sits on the editorial board of the International Journal of Maritime Archaeology.

Richards served as the Program Head for the UNC Coastal Studies Institute's Maritime Heritage Program while a joint appointment with ECU's Department of History from 2011-2018.  Dr. Richards assumed the role of Director of the Program in Maritime Studies (Department of History) at East Carolina University (Greenville, NC) in 2018. He has taught classes in the history, theory, method, and ethics of maritime archaeology, field schools, and cultural heritage management at ECU since 2003.

Selected Publications

Monographs and Books

2013 The Archaeology of Watercraft Abandonment.  Springer Press: New York, NY. (Co-edited with Sami K. Seeb).  

2008 Ships Graveyards: Abandoned Watercraft and the Archaeological Formation Process.  University Press of Florida, Gainesville.

2001 Garden Island Ships Graveyard Maritime Heritage Trail.  Heritage South Australia: Adelaide. (With Robyn Hartell).

Book Chapters

2016 The Vernacular Watercraft of Castle Island, Washington, North Carolina. The Archaeology of Vernacular Watercraft, Evans, Amanda (ed.), pp. 129-156.  (with Bradley A. Rodgers, Franklin H. Price, Brian Clayton, Andrew Pietruszka, and Heather White)

2015 Abandoned Ships in Australia (With Mark Staniforth), in Shipwrecks Around the World: Revelations of the Past, Sila Tripati (ed.). Kaveri Books. New Delhi, pps. 285-307.

2013 The Abandoned Ships and Ship Graveyards:  Exploring Site Significance and Research Potential, in Nathan Richards and Sami Seeb (eds.), The Archaeology of Watercraft Abandonment, Springer Press, New York, NY, pps 1-16.

2011 Ship Abandonment, in Alexis Catsambis, Ben Ford and Donny Hamilton (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Maritime Archaeology, Oxford University Press, United Kingdom, pps. 856-878.

2007 Garden Island (1906-1945) – Graveyard of Ships, in Mike Nash (ed.), Shipwreck!  Nautical Archaeology in Australia, University of Western Australia Press: Fremantle, pps. 183-193.

2005 Thematic Studies in Australian Maritime Archaeology, in Mark Staniforth and Mike Nash (eds.), Australian Approaches to Maritime Archaeology, Kluwer Press: New York, pp. 41-54.

Journal Articles

2018 Preliminary Investigations of Two Shipwreck Sites in Cahuita National Park, Costa Rica. International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, 47(2):  1-14 (with Lynn Harris).

2018 The ship graveyard at Meyer’s Wharf: A history and inventory, in Bermuda Journal of Archaeology and Maritime History. Volume 21:  41-84.

2013 The Meyer’s Boatyard Vessel, Part 1: The Historical Significance of M-Class Gunboats, in Bermuda Journal of Archaeology and Maritime History.  Volume 20: 182-204 (With Peter Campbell).

2013 A Bermudian workhorse: The Dockyard Lighter Wreck, Royal Navy Dockyard, in Bermuda Journal of Archaeology and Maritime History.  Volume 20: 7-28 (With Joseph C. Hoyt).

2009 Conflict and Commerce:  Maritime Archaeological Site Distribution as Cultural Change on the Roanoke River, North Carolina (With Franklin Price), in Historical Archaeology 43(4):75-96.

2008 Virtual Modelling and 3D Photogrammetry for Maritime Heritage:  Exercises in Eos Photomodeler Pro 5.0, in Bulletin of the Australasian Intitute for Maritime Archaeology Volume 32: 27-41 (with Brian Diveley, Michelle Liss, and Sami Seeb).

2007 Artefact Patterning at the Holdfast Bay Jetty: Part 2, and Interpretation of the Archaeological Deposit, in Bulletin of the Australasian Institute for Maritime Archaeology.  Volume 31: 55-62.  (with Chris Lewczak).

2006 The Abandoned Ships' Project, in Historical Archaeology. 40(4):84-102. (with Mark Staniforth).

2005 Ruling Theories Linger:  Questioning the Identity of the Beaufort Inlet Shipwreck, in International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, 34(1): 24-37. (with Bradley A. Rodgers, and Wayne Lusardi).

Courses Offered:

HIST 5530:  Field School in Maritime History and Underwater Archaeology
HIST 6650:  Management of Coastal Cultural Resources
HIST 6610:  Legal and Professional Issues in Maritime Studies
HIST 6805:  History and Theory of Nautical Archaeology
HIST 6820:  Research Methods in Nautical Archaeology
HIST 6835:  Advanced Methods in Maritime Archaeology
HIST 6850:  Field Research in Maritime History