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George Fletcher Bass Ph.D.

George Fletcher Bass Ph.D.

National Medal of Science - Biological Sciences 2001

Archeologist. Father of underwater archaeology. Excavated shipwrecks of Bronze Age, Classical Age, Byzantine. Founded Institute of Nautical Archaeology. Findings throw new light into beginning of free enterprise system, dating Homer's Odyssey, chronologies of Egyptian dynasties, Helladic cultures; histories of technology, economics, music, art, religion.

"The greatest thrill comes from the library, when you can understand something about what you've found, when it all comes together and it means something."


Generously contributed by Goerge Bass

Personal Data
Positions Held
Honors and Awards
Invited Lectures

Personal Data

Name: George Fletcher Bass
Date and Place of Birth: December 9, 1932 Columbia, S.C.
Married to Ann Singletary Bass; two sons, Gordon and Alan.


The Johns Hopkins University, 1950-1951, 1952-1955, M.A. in Near Eastern Archaeology (no B.A.)
The University College of the Southwest of England (now the University of Exeter), one-year course in English literature, 1951-1952.
The American School of Classical Studies, Athens, Greece, 1955-1957
The University of Pennsylvania, 1959-1964, Ph.D. in Classical Archaeology

Positions Held

2nd and 1st Lieutenant, U.S. Army Security Agency, 1957-1959
Student Assistant, Mediterranean Section, University Museum, University of Pennsylvania, 1959-1960
Special Assistant for Underwater Archaeology, University Museum, 1962-1964
Assistant Professor of Classical Archaeology at University of Pennsylvania and Assistant Curator at University Museum, 1964-1968
Visiting Scholar, St. John's College, Cambridge University, 1969-1970.
Associate Professor of Classical Archaeology at University of Pennsylvania and Associate Curator at University Museum, 1968-1973
President, Institute of Nautical Archaeology, 1973-1982, 1996-1999
Adjunct Professor of Classical Archaeology, University of Pennsylvania, 1973-1976.
Professor of Anthropology, Texas A&M University, 1976-1980
Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, Texas A&M University, 1980-2000; Emeritus 2001-
Association of Former Students/Texas A&M Development Foundation Alumni Professorship, 1980-1986
Geddes-Harrower Professor of Greek Art and Archaeology, University of Aberdeen, Scotland, 1984
George T. and Gladys H. Abell Professor of Nautical Archaeology, Texas A&M University, 1986-2000
George O. Yamini Family Professor of Nautical Archaeology, Texas A&M University, 1993-2000
Program Head, Nautical Archaeology, Texas A&M University, 1976-1993
Vice-President, Archaeological Institute of America, 1989-1990
Advisory Board, Center for the Study of Architecture, Bryn Mawr College, 1987-
Member, Managing Committee, American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 1987-
Honorary Fellow, Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh, 1989.
On editorial boards of the American Journal of Archaeology (1987-98), Archaeology, International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, and until 1995 National Geographic Research.
Advisor, World Ship Trust; Adviser, National Maritime Historical Society
Founder of Studies in Nautical Archaeology Series and General Editor until 2000
Member of Advisory Board, Historical Diving Society U.S.A., 2003-
Honorary Director, Explorers Club 2003-2012
Adjunct Professor, University of South Carolina, 2006-


Assistant, Lerna Excavation of the American School of Classical Studies, Greece, 1956-1957
Assistant, Gordion Excavation of the University Museum of the University of Pennsylvania, Polatli, Turkey, summer 1957
Director, Cape Gelidonya Excavation of the University Museum (Bronze Age shipwreck in Turkey), 1960
Director, Yassiada Excavations of the University Museum (7th-century Byzantine shipwreck in Turkey), 1961-1964
Director, Underwater Archaeological Survey in Turkey for the University Museum, 1965
Director, Yassiada Excavations (4th-century early Byzantine shipwreck in Turkey), for the University Museum, 1967 and 1969; for the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, 1974
Assistant, Thera Excavations of the Greek Department of Antiquities, 1968
Visiting Scholar, St. John's College, Cambridge University, England, 1969-1970
Director, Casa S. Paolo Excavation of the University Museum (Neolithic and Bronze Age settlement near Gravina di Puglia, Italy), 1971
Director, Underwater Archaeological Surveys of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, between Bodrum and Antalya, Turkey, 1973, 1980, 2000, 2001
Manager, Defence Excavation of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, the Maine State Museum, and the Maine Maritime Academy (American Revolutionary War ship near Castine, Maine), 1975
Director, Seytan Deresi Excavation of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology (Bronze Age shipwreck in Turkey), 1975
Director, Cornwallis Cave Wreck Excavation, York River, Virginia, 1976
Director, Serçe Limani Excavations of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology (11th-Century shipwreck in Turkey), 1977-1979
Director, Yassiada Excavation (16th-Century shipwreck in Turkey), 1982
Director, Uluburun Excavation (14th-Century B.C. shipwreck, Turkey), 1984-1989; co-director 1989-1994
Director, (Selimiye) Bozburun Excavation (9th-century Byzantine shipwreck in Turkey), 1995-1998
Director, Tektas Burnu Excavation (5th-century B.C. shipwreck in Turkey), 1999-2001
Director, Pabuç Burnu Excavation (6th-century B.C. shipwreck in Turkey), 2002-2003
Director, Shipwreck Survey off Turkish coast, 2006 and 2007

Honors and Awards

Gold Trident for Science, 6th International Congress of Subaquatic Activities, Ustica, Italy, 1964.
Outstanding Young Man in Philadelphia for 1966, awarded by the Philadelphia Jaycees.
One of the Ten Outstanding Young Men in the Nation for 1967, awarded by the United States Jaycees.
American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship, 1969-1979.
First Annual Philadelphia Explorers Award, 1973.
1974 NOGI Award for Science, from Underwater Society of America.
John Oliver La Gorce/National Geographic Society Gold Medal, 1979.
Entries in Encyclopedia Britannica (1976) and Who's Who in America.
Faculty Distinguished Achievement Award in Research, Texas A&M University, 1984.
Keith Muckelroy Memorial Award, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, England, 1984.
Lowell Thomas Award of the Explorers Club, 1986
Gold Medal for Distinguished Archaeological Achievement, Archaeological Institute of America, 1986.
Honorary Doctorate, Bogaziçi University, Istanbul, 1987.
Centennial Award, National Geographic Society, 1988.
President's Award of Honor, Texas A&M University, 1989.
Silver Medal, 1992 Félix Neubergh Lecturer, Göteborg University.
Honorary doctorate, the University of Liverpool, 1998
J.C. Harrington Medal in Historical Archaeology, Society for Historical Archaeology, 1999.
Elected Associate Member, Portuguese Naval Academy, 1998-
Golden Plate Award, American Academy of Achievement, 2001
National Medal of Science, 2002
Pioneer Award, Historical Diving Society, 2007
Bandelier Award for Public Service to Archaeology, Archaeological Institute of America, 2011

Invited Lectures (selected from hundreds given since 1960)

Cornell University Messenger Lectures (2009)
Phi Beta Kappa Updike Memorial Scholar, lectured at University of Massachusetts, Amherst College, Swarthmore College, Alfred University, Syracuse University, Fordham University, Bowling Green University, Centre College, and Santa Clara University (2004-05)
Campbell Lecturer, Spurlock Museum, University of Illinois (2003)
Presidential Lecture, University of Tulsa (2003)
John and Penelope Biggs Resident in the Classics, Washington University, St. Louis (2002)
Ida Cordelia Beam Distinguished Visiting Professor, University of Iowa. (2002)
Boshell Family Lecturer on Archaeology, Dallas Museum of Art (2002)
Distinguished Keynote Lecture, 27th Annual Conference on South Carolina Archaeology (2001)
Commencement Speaker, Texas A&M University (2000)
Keynote Address, International Symposium on the Archaeology of Medieval and Modern Ships of Iberian-Atlantic Tradition, Lisbon (1998)
Royal Geographical Society (1997)
Dalrymple Lectures, University of Glasgow (1996)
Landsdowne Lectures, University of Victoria, B.C. (1992).
Félix Neubergh Lecturer, Göteborg University (1992).
Keynote Address, ICOMOS International, Sydney (1992).
Keynote Address, Annual Meeting, British Assoc. of Near Eastern Archaeologists, Edinburgh (1989)
Keynote Address, Bronze Age Trade in the Mediterranean Symposium, Oxford (1989).
Plenary Address, Annual Meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research (1985)
Plenary Address, Annual Meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America (1985)
Plenary Address at First Annual Meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology
Annual Rodney S. Young Memorial Lecture, the University Museum, Philadelphia (1979)
First Annual Eric J. Ryan Memorial Lecture, Colgate University (1980)
Plenary Address at Symposium on the Archaeology of Trade in the East Mediterranean hosted by Duke University and the University of North Carolina (1979)
Keynote Address, Twelfth Conference on Underwater Archaeology (1981)
International Conference on Uses of manned Submersibles, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute
Annual Archaeological Institute of America Lecture at the Smithsonian Institution and: American Philosophical Society, Society of Antiquaries (London), Bilkent University, National Museum of Mexico, Office of Naval Research, Rockefeller Museum (Jerusalem), The University of Virginia, The British Museum, School of American Research (Santa Fe), Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto), The University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill), Heidelberg University, University of Delaware, Institute of Archaeology of London University, Harvard University, National Geographic Society, Explorers Club (New York, Philadelphia and Texas chapters), Princeton University, Randoph-Macon College, Cleveland Museum of Natural Science, Dallas Art Museum, University of Cincinnati, University of Pennsylvania, Mt. Holyoke College, Philadelphia Geographical Society, Rutgers University, Sweet Briar College, United States Naval Academy, Wofford College, Villanova University, La Salle College, Mary Baldwin College, Clemson College, American Society for Oceanography, King's College of Cambridge University, Hampden-Sydney College, Mary Washington College, Free Library of Philadelphia, Tenth International Congress of Classical Archaeology (Izmir, Turkey), International Congress of Classical Archaeology (Philadelphia), Cleveland Art Museum, The Johns Hopkins University, The University of Texas at Austin, Ashmolean Museum (Oxford), Istanbul University, Furman University, Swarthmore College, Temple University, The Walters Art Gallery, Hamilton College (endowed annual lectureship), Cornell University, Dumbarton Oaks, Second World Congress of Underwater Activities (London 1962), Jesus College of Cambridge University, Churchill College of Cambridge University, University of North Carolina at Wilmington, American Littoral Society, Minnesota Historical Society, University of Pittsburgh, University of Rochester, Rice University, New York Zoological Society, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Corning Museum of Glass, Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), Fourth International Conference on Underwater Archaeology (St. Paul 1973), R.J. Russell Symposium at Louisiana State University, University of Kansas, University of St. Andrews, University of Edinburgh, University of Glasgow, University of Aberdeen, University of Durham, Scottish Hellenic Society, Inverness Technical College, U.S. Coast Guard Academy, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Society of the Four Arts (Palm Beach), University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Beaver College, Erskine College, Franklin and Marshall College, Bryn Mawr College, Jefferson Medical College, Wilson College, Lamar University, Wagner Free Institute of Science, J. Paul Getty Museum, Monash University (Melbourne, Australia), Macquarie University (Sydney, Australia), University of Sydney, University of Tasmania (Hobart), Australian National Maritime Museum, Institute for Science-Engineering and Public Policy (Portland), Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Royal British Columbia Museum, University of Illinois, Boston University, Ocean Institute, Emory University, Warsaw University, Jagiellonian University (Krakow, Poland), and talks to other universities, and to diving, archaeological and civic groups. Also appearances on ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, CBC, BBC and other television networks.


American Philosophical Society
Archaeological Institute of America
Institute of Nautical Archaeology
National Maritime Historical Society
Society for Historical Archaeology


"A piece of gold doesn't mean anything." It's the stories told by the details, like the golden scarab inscribed with the hieroglyphic for Nefertiti; the style of the inscription convinced some Egyptologists that the beautiful queen must have ruled as an equal alongside her famous husband, Akhenaten.

On the other hand, Bass and his team members have endured their share of dramatic trials. They've camped on rat-infested islands, braved brutal winds and heat, wrestled artifacts away from a possessive octopus, sliced fingers and feet on 975-year-old shards of glass…

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Photo: Courtesy Dr. George F. Bass

Name: George Fletcher Bass, Ph.D.

Birth: 9 December, 1932 Columbia, S.C.

Title: Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Nautical Archaeology and Founder, The Institute of Nautical Archaeology

Affiliation: Texas A&M University

Citation: "For pioneering ocean technology and creating a new branch of scholarship, nautical archaeology, thereby providing new knowledge of the histories of economics, technology, and literacy." Presented by President George W. Bush in a White House East Room ceremony on June 12, 2002.

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