Professor Mark Staniforth – Exploring shipwrecks near and far

Exploring Kublai Khan’s 1288AD invasion fleet and preserving colonial era shipwrecks off Australia, Flinders University Adjunct Associate Professor Mark Staniforth has enjoyed a long and fascinating career in maritime archaeology.

After considering his study options carefully for over a year Professor Staniforth left Sydney, and a position at the Australian National Maritime Museum, to complete his PhD in Archaeology at Flinders University. “Flinders was an eclectic, accepting and interesting university with highly respected archaeologists,” said Professor Mark Staniforth.

“Vincent Megaw (now Emeritus Professor), a renaissance man and an outstanding scholar, was my PhD supervisor. Vincent was accepting of my PhD topic which was different from the norm. He is the person who has inspired me the most in my academic life.”

In 1997, Professor Staniforth became a lecturer in Historical Archaeology at Flinders. He continued to work at the University for another 14 years and was responsible for establishing the Maritime Archaeology Program at Flinders. He remained involved in the program for another eight years as a volunteer.

In 2000, Professor Staniforth was the first Australian to be elected to the Advisory Council for Underwater Archaeology and the first Australian to be elected as Chair. He has played a significant role in the establishment and development of a range of maritime archaeology related programs across Australia and Vietnam.

Retired since 2010, Professor Staniforth continues his involvement in maritime archaeology and has taken a special interest in the Star of Greece shipwreck off the southern Adelaide coast at Port Willunga. 2018 marks 130 years since 18 men died when the ship was wrecked in 1888 – an iconic event in South Australia’s history.

“This special anniversary will be marked from the 12 to 15 July with a dinner featuring local wines and produce to raise funds for a bronze plaque commemorating the 18 men who died during the shipwreck,” said Professor Staniforth. “It will also be acknowledged with a wreath laying and plaque dedication ceremony and the opportunity to view rarely seen art and artefacts at the Star of Greece Exhibition at the Aldinga Library.”

Professor Staniforth’s lifelong involvement in maritime archaeology continues through a range of projects including the MaP Fund and the Vietnam Maritime Archaeology Project.

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