Maria Jacobsen

on Leave of Absence until August 31, 2014


Office: 843-730-5085

Maria Jacobsen is the Hunley Project Senior Archaeologist at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center, affiliated with Clemson University Restoration Institute. Her primary responsibility is the excavation of the American Civil War submarine H. L. Hunley, which is recognized as the world’s first successful attack submarine.

In 2000, the Hunley was raised from the seabed off Charleston, South Carolina and brought to the Center, where a multidisciplinary team is charged with the excavation, study, and conservation of the submarine. Jacobsen plans and manages the interdisciplinary and collaborative study of the submarine’s crew whose remains was found in the submarine, the archaeological investigations of the hull and associated artifacts. This work has been conducted with research partners and students from a number of Federal, State, and private entities.1

Jacobsen is a terrestrial and nautical archaeologist, who has conducted fieldwork in northern Europe, the eastern Mediterranean, and the United States. Trained at the excavations of the Late Mesolithic maritime site near Vedbæk, Denmark, Jacobsen went on to focus on surveys and excavations of maritime settlements in the Levant, with multiple seasons at the Bronze Age site of Tel Nami and the city of Tel Akko (Tell el-Fukhar) in Israel. She participated in the excavation of a Levantine cargo ship that wrecked near Kaş, Turkey; dating to 1300 BCE, the Uluburun wreck is considered one of the oldest seagoing ships excavated to date. She worked on the excavation of Herod the Great’s now submerged 1st century BCE harbor at Caesarea, Israel and on the survey of a Roman merchantman that sank nearby. Other nautical projects have included the excavation of an intact 16th-century Dutch freighter found in the IJsselmeer polder, the Netherlands, and the first a sonar survey conducted of French explorer Robert de La Salle’s flagship La Belle, which wrecked in 1686 in Matagorda Bay, Texas. Prior to joining Clemson University, Jacobsen worked ten years for the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, a non-profit organization affiliated with the Nautical Archaeology Program at Texas A&M University. Over the years, Jacobsen has taught various topics in archaeology and anthropology, as well as methodologies for ancient ship reconstruction, surveying and drafting techniques.

The Hunley Project has been featured in national and international media, including in documentaries produced for National Geographic Television & Film, PBS, Discovery Science Channel, and History Channel. The most recent is National Geographic’s 2-hour documentary Hunley - Secret Weapon of the Confederacy released September 15, 2011.

IN PRESS: Jacobsen, M., V. Y. Blouin, and W. Shirley. “Does Erosion Corrosion Account for Intriguing Damage to the Hull of the Civil War Submarine H.L. Hunley?” Paper, Proceedings of the 1st International Marine Forensics Symposium, National Harbor, MD, April 3-5, 2012.

IN PRESS: Johanna Rivera J., M. Jacobsen, P. Mardikian, M. Scafuri, and P. de Vivies. “A new approach to excavating and handling waterlogged textiles from the American Civil War submarine H.L. Hunley.” Paper, Proceedings of the 11th ICOM-CC WOAM Wet Organic Materials Conference, Greenville, NC, May 24-28, 2010.

2010: Downs, J.C.U., M. Jacobsen, M. Scafuri, M. Rieders, and S. Harris. “Investigating and Ancient Transportation Fatality: Study of the Civil War Submarine H.L. Hunley. “43rd Annual Meeting of the National Association of Medical Examiners, San Francisco, CA, September 14, 2009. Abstract, American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology Vol. 31:1 (March 2010), p.17.


Additional Information:
Work has been conducted with research partners from Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences, Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, College of William & Mary, Coastal Carolina University, College of Charleston, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command Central Identification Laboratory, Marine Sonic Technology, Ltd., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Medical University of South Carolina, National Medical Services Labs, Naval Historical and Heritage Command, Smithsonian Institution, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, University of North Carolina, University of South Carolina, University of Tennessee, and US National Park Service.:

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