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The archaeology of U-boatwrecks: tangible traces of the war at sea in the early 20th century = Maritieme archeologie van U-bootwrakken: tastbare sporen van de oorlog op zee in de vroege 20e eeuw

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  • Archaeology


Microsoft Word - Titelblad_abstracts.doc - 25 - THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF U-BOATWRECKS: TANGIBLE TRACES OF THE WAR AT SEA IN THE EARLY 20TH CENTURY Tomas Termote Sluisvlietlaan 28 B-8450 Bredene, Belgium E-mail: [email protected] The First World War has been engrained in our memories with names like Passchendale, Ypres, the Somme and Verdun which symbolize the beginning of warfare on a larger, more mechanical and efficient scale. In the end the great land battles would not be the deciding factor for the outcome of the war. Keeping a country supplied and upholding a strong public morale would be deciding factors. For the allied side this could only be done by guarding and maintaining the shipping lanes which brought goods, troops and weapons from all corners of the world towards the home- and battlefronts. The German U-boat was the only weapon which stood at the brink of toppling this supremacy at sea and bringing nations on the verge of starvation and surrender. It also marked an end to an era where two mighty fleets faced each other in a conventional sea battle where antiquated battleships pounded minute dots on the horizon with their great guns. Created from a fast craft which could fire torpedo warheads, the U-boat or submersible was adapted to be able to approach an enemy undetected below the surface. As with the invention of the aircraft we enter a new area of warfare, unlimited in its possibilities. In the last few years conventional archaeology has slightly changed its thinking and now includes modern history. In so doing the Flemish Heritage Institute (VIOE) created branches which focus on the archaeology of the First World War in the ‘Westhoek’ and on maritime archaeology. Eventhough relics, traces and landscapes dating back to the earlier part of the 20th century have more or less disappeared, there are still tangible traces to be found in the soil archive. The war at sea has given us a different view on the history. We used to rely m

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