Sea us | In Class

By Ariel Polokoff, a student of MA program in Maritime Civilizations, the cohort of 2015-2016.

The University of Haifa’s Maritime Civilizations International Masters program is a unique and intensive program that has given me the opportunity to learn about maritime activity and the sea through both a humanities and a scientific lens. The coursework extensively covers maritime life through courses such as Ship Building, Archaeology, Historiography, Geology, Biological Oceanography, and more. The coursework at first glance may seem to be an assemblage of independent classes, but over time it becomes clear that all of the courses are interconnected and related, and that the best way to understand the sea is through a multitude of fields that create a greater picture of the sea and maritime activity.

Ariel 1
Students completing a practice exercise for the Micro-Macro Archaeology Field Methods course.

I originally came into this program with a strong background in Archaeology and Art History, and the reality of needing to take so many scientific courses seemed like a daunting challenge. However, my professors were engaging, passionate, and patient; thereby eventually coaching me not to be overwhelmed by the challenge of taking on so many sciences, but invigorated by the sciences and the many ways that they interact with the humanities to create a better understanding of the sea, both past and present.

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Ariel diving at Dor as a part of an Underwater Survey and Field Methods course.

There are so many ways in which the sciences and humanities come together within the Maritime Civilizations study curriculum both in the classroom and in the field. One of the best examples is in the Micro and Macro Archaeological Field Methods course that I took this spring. This course was a two-part course – part one was in the classroom, the other was in the field. Part one provided an extensive historical and archaeological background to the Archaeological site Tel Dor, Israel. Part two provided in-depth scientific background and lab methods into Micro and Macro Archaeology. The humanities and scientific aspects of Archaeology came together in the field when conducting an underwater and coastal excavation at Dor. This combination of coursework and fieldwork, humanities and sciences, and land and sea studies epitomized the goals of the International Master’s program in Maritime Civilizations. It gave us an opportunity to learn in the classroom and practice in the field. The resulting combination of interconnected and related fields created a fuller vision of maritime activity and the sea at Dor.

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Ariel, Brigid, and other students doing lab work.

There is a multitude of other classes that link together to help provide students in the program a well rounded and interconnected understanding of the sea. These classes are taught by brilliant professors such as Dr. Gil Gambash, Prof. Assaf Yasur-Landau, Dr. Deborah Cvikel, Dr. Dorit Sivan, Dr. Dror Angel, Prof. Ruth Shahack-Gross, Prof. Michal Artzy, and more. Each of these wonderful professors works to impart their knowledge onto their students through classroom, lab work, and fieldwork opportunities. Indeed, I have discovered that one of the greatest aspects of the program is its ability to integrate learning in the sciences for those with a background in the humanities.


“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.


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