Getting to know Peta Knott, the NAS Education Manager

  1. What got you interested in Nautical Archaeology?

A row of books on the eerie ninth floor of Sydney University library. That was my escape to the exotic world of the Mediterranean in the 1960s when our discipline was really getting started. George Bass, Peter Throckmorton, Fredrick Dumas, Jacques Cousteau and of course Honor Frost were my guides into this amazing new world that I could only read about from the sterile and dark university library on the other side of the world.


  1. How long have you been involved in NAS?

I first encountered NAS on a Flinders University fieldschool in Australia in 2003 and within the two weeks of that fieldschool I got all the way through to my part III. After finishing my Masters in Maritime Archaeology, I volunteered as a NAS tutor in various parts of Australia for several years. Then when I moved to the UK in 2013, I got more involved in NAS, mainly through the conferences. Then Mark Beattie-Edwards offered me my dream job at NAS in 2017!


  1. What has been your standout moment in Nautical Archaeology?

I’m going to be greedy and have three standout moments!

Career-wise my standout moment was getting a Linked In message from Mark Beattie-Edwards asking if I was interested in working for NAS – I still remember where I was when I read that message!

Academically, I don’t think it would be possible to beat the first Under the Mediterranean conference in Nicosia in 2017. It was such an amazing conglomeration of passionate professionals, students and volunteers all in one place. You couldn’t go passed a taverna in Nicosia without seeing a group of people from the conference deep in discussion or planning some amazing fieldwork. The conference lectures were fantastic too!

When it comes to fieldwork, I will always remember my time diving on an ancient anchorage off the south coast of Cyprus. Spending hours underwater each day measuring some of the 200 stone anchors was such a pleasure that I didn’t mind sleeping on an army camp bed on a school-house veranda for two months!


  1. What projects have you been working on most recently?

For the last six months my main project has been keeping a small person alive and entertained! But now I am also looking forward to planning a new a diverse Education Programme that takes tips from our online Covid world and blends with in-person activity - as such things become possible (hopefully!) in the coming months. I’ve also got plans for some intertidal and riverine fieldwork which might be a bit easier to manage than trying to maintain social distancing on a small dive boat! Keep an eye out for announcements in our Weekly Discoveries email update.


  1. What do you enjoy most about nautical archaeology?

The amazingly passionate people that I come across make each day interesting and inspiring. Whether they are professional colleagues, newbie students, or enthusiastic volunteers, each bring their own expertise and interest to our discipline and make me keen to find out what we are going to discover together.


  1. What are the biggest challenges facing Nautical Archaeology?

Staying relevant is our biggest challenge. Some might consider investigating the past indulgent when there are more pressing issues like a global pandemic and climate change. But I think it is important for us to remind the general public, the government, and the media that studies of the past can be vitally important for the future. UNESCO’s Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development is just one of the ways we can maintain our relevance by contributing to larger projects and causes. As a UNESCO Accredited NGO, NAS is going to be linking to this global movement to ensure that we stay visible and relevant.


  1. Where would be your dream archaeological destination (site, museum etc)?

I’d quite like to visit the underwater archaeology park at Baia in Italy but all the fun work of recording it has already been done. So, I suppose my dream archaeological destination would be on a site that had only just been discovered and needed lots of work done on it. Preferably in warm water with a handy dig house nearby to do all the post-fieldwork processing each day!


  1. What book, website, or other resource would you recommend to new students of Archaeology?

Under the Mediterranean (written by Honor Frost in 1963) got me hooked and I am not alone in that regard. I’m sure there are generations to come who will agree that it is an inspiring book.


  1. What advice would you give someone starting out in Archaeology?

Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer. And if possible, have a proper job, or a partner with a proper job, and/or get used to living frugally!


  1. If you could meet any historical figure, who would it be and why?

I would love to meet Honor Frost because her work has inspired me and has also forged paths into maritime archaeology that has allowed me to get where I am today. I’d love to sit and have a cup of tea with her and just listen to her regale stories of the early days of Mediterranean maritime archaeology where she was making up the rules as she went along and making amazing discoveries along the way.