Maritime Cultures Research Institute
The Maritime Cultures Research Institute (MARI) is a fundamental research center that explores how people in or close to a maritime environment created particular ‘fluid’ cultures and societies based on connectivity and transience. Seas and coastal areas, including islands, estuarine and riverine environments, are liminal zones where products, people and ideas are exchanged and transformed. Indeed, traveling the seas connects people and coastal and riverine societies are well known for their ‘access’ to the world, both from the material as well as immaterial point of view. Liminal makes central, so to speak.
The center investigates the archaeology of maritime cultures and societies, which includes:
- the comparative study of societal and environmental dynamics, crises and resilience and the interaction between people and landscape
- the investigation of travels, connections and exchanges;
- access to and transfers of material culture and (cultural) knowledge.
It also comprises the study of a particular ‘maritime’ sense of place and identity, as well as the particular spaces and environments in which these travels and transactions take place, such as ships and vessels, ports of trade, towns and coastal landscapes.
In short, MARI studies what it means to know the sea(s) and what lies beyond. The center’s predominant geographical focus is Europe. It aims to study, compare and connect the archaeology of the North Sea World to the (Eastern) Mediterranean, from Cyprus to Iceland, from prehistory to modernity, though no hard geographical limit is imposed. As a research center with a focus on the fluidity as well as the transfer of things and thoughts, MARI is an intrinsically interdisciplinary endeavour. Our research includes material culture studies, archaeological sciences with particular specialisations in geoarchaeology, bioarchaeology and environmental archaeology, landscape archaeology, underwater archaeology and more. To cultivate true interdisciplinarity, MARI collaborates closely with other research groups at the VUB such as AMGC, BPHOT, FOST, HOST and SURF, as well as university departments in Belgium and abroad.