Dr Matthew Harpster BA, MPhil, PhD

Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology
Marie Curie Fellow

Contact details

Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Between 2006 and 2013, Matthew Harpster’s life in northern Cyprus placed him in the unique position of practicing maritime archaeology within a region considered to be militarily-occupied territory by most of the international community; whereas the Republic of Cyprus in southern Cyprus is a state recognized by the United Nations, the sovereignty of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is recognized only by Turkey. While in northern Cyprus, he worked with the Nautical Archaeology Society to implement the first and only Bi-Communal training program dedicated to educating the public on the necessity of protecting the island’s maritime heritage, conducted the first international underwater surveys off the northern coastline in three decades and, working with the European Commission, the United Nations Development Program, UNESCO, ICOMOS-ICUCH, and the US Embassy, coordinated the Kyrenia Shipwreck Collection Restoration Program. This effort successfully gathered the necessary political and financial support to implement efforts to stabilize, maintain and exhibit the collection of material comprising the Kyrenia shipwreck lost off the northern coast of Cyprus in the 4th century BC, a symbol of Cyprus to the world.


  • B.A. The George Washington University (1994)
  • M.Phil. St Andrews University (1997)
  • Ph.D. Texas A&M University (2005)


Following the completion of his Ph.D. research on the design and construction of the 9th-century AD merchant ship lost near Bozburun, Turkey, Harpster was awarded a postdoctoral position at the Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology at MIT, prior to beginning as an Assistant Professor of Archaeology at Eastern Mediterranean University, in Famagusta, Cyprus, in 2006. From 2010 to 2013, he directed the Kyrenia Shipwreck Collection Restoration Program.

Postgraduate supervision

  • Maritime Archaeology and Maritime Heritage Management
  • Maritime Landscapes
  • Method and Theory in Maritime Archaeology
  • History of Maritime Archaeology


Matthew Harpster’s recent focus on the protection and management of maritime cultural heritage was prompted by the unique political and legal environment of northern Cyprus. In addition to his participation in coastal surveys at Siraf, Iran, and his project modelling the maritime landscape at Boğsak, Turkey, his current research efforts as a Marie Curie Fellow focus on the method and theory of maritime archaeology, the history of the discipline in the Mediterranean region, and promoting an alternative approach to the interpretation and modelling of maritime communities in the ancient Mediterranean.


 Book chapters:

  • “Maritime Communities and Maritime Spaces in the Mediterranean Sea” in A.N. Law (ed.), forthcoming, Mapping the Medieval Mediterranean, ca. 300-1550.  An Encyclopedia of Perspectives in Research.  The Netherlands: Brill.
  • “Cultural Heritage in Disputed Territory: The Maritime Heritage Awareness Training Program” in J. Kusch (ed.), 2011, Knowledge, Differences and Identity in the Time of Globalization: Institutional Discourse and Practices.  Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.


  • “Shipwreck Identity, Methodology, and Nautical Archaeology” Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, 2013, vol. 20: 588-622.
  • “The 2008 Maritime Heritage Assessment Survey along the Karpaz Peninsula, Cyprus” The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, 2010, vol. 39: 295-309.
  • “Designing the 11th-century AD vessel from Serçe Limanı, Turkey” The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, 2010, vol. 39: 44-55.
  • “Designing the 9th-century AD vessel from Bozburun, Turkey” The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, 2009, vol. 38: 297-313.
  • “Keith Muckelroy: Methods, Ideas and Maritime ArchaeologyJournal of Maritime Archaeology, 2009, vol. 4: 67-82.
  • “Maritime Archaeology and Maritime Heritage Protection in the Disputed Territory of Northern Cyprus” Journal of Maritime Archaeology, 2008, vol. 3: 3-13.
  • -with Nicholas Coureas, “Codex Palatinus Graecus 367: A 13th-century Method of Determining Vessel Burden?” Mariner’s Mirror, 2008, vol. 94: 8-20.
  • “Dowels as a means of edge-to-edge joinery in the 9th-century AD vessel from Bozburun, Turkey” The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, 2005, vol. 34: 88-94.