Sea us: Search for Ancient Harbors

By Ashley Himmelstein graduate student in the International Master’s Program in Maritime Civilizations, class of 2015-2016

“Sea US” is a series of posts featuring students from around the world who are taking part in this year’s International Maritime Civilization master’s program.

I came into the program with an interest in technologies, ancient or modern, which is how I was brought into the project that would become my thesis topic.

I had mentioned to our professor, Assaf Yasur-Landau, my interests in technology, and then next day when I went to further discuss thesis topics with him, he told me that he knew a project that would interest me. Assaf set up a meeting/interview between me and Michael Lazar about joining a project in which we would conduct remote sensing surveys along Dor’s South Bay. Upon discussing that the project was a joint effort between Maritime Civilizations and Marine Geophysics, and that I have a background in marine science, physics and even took a graduate level course before in geographic information systems (GIS), we realized I was a great fit for this project. Thus Assaf and Michael became my advisers for my thesis.


Our project focuses on the South Bay of Dor, which is south of an archaeological site called Tel Dor. In the bays near Tel Dor archaeologists have found ceramics, anchors, ballast stones and even shipwrecks. In this project we are using frequency domain electromagnetic (FDEM) method in order to find buried features along Dor’s south bay. With FDEM we can detect what is under the sand by measuring its conductivity and magnetic susceptibility. Previously smaller surveys then ours were conducted in which they found a rectangular shaped feature 5 meters down! For my thesis we have surveyed the entire South Bay and are trying to see if that rectangular feature is unique or if they are other features. If other structures are discovered, it may provide evidence to the South Bay having been a harbor at one time.

The Maritime Civilization program at the University of Haifa, has allowed me to combine my interests in both archaeology and marine science by being a part of this amazing project. I am thankful to have advisers like Assaf and Michael, who have provided me with excellent guidance and have helped me to apply and expand my interests in the field.


For more information and opportunities for international students interested in this field, check out the master’s in Maritime Civilizations at the University of Haifa, click here or email us at


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