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The Things They Carried

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A reef off Yassiada, a small Aegean island near Turkey, has sent more than a dozen ships to their doom. This curse for mariners has been a blessing for undersea archaeologists. Three of the wreck sites have been excavated, including this, the first of the bunch discovered, that of a 7th-century Byzantine ship. Here, divers send amphoras surface-ward, using a balloon as dumbwaiter. The Yassiada wrecks are among the many accounts of clever recovery techniques, careful restoration efforts and lively histories to be discovered in the Encyclopedia of Underwater and Maritime Archaeology (Yale, $55), edited by James P. Delgado, director of the Vancouver Maritime Museum. Its pages drip with underwater photography and other illustrations of treasures lost and found. It will enthrall serious archaeologists, treasure hunters and anyone else with a passion for the watery parts of the world.

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