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Franck Goddio
Robert Wilson
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Franck Goddio

In 1987 Franck Goddio founded the Institut Européen d’Archéologie Sous-Marine (IEASM), a nonprofit body for the location, exploration, study and restoration of sunken sites and the presentation of their treasures. This was a bold decision for a man who until then had been following a career in quite a different field.

Born in Casablanca in 1947, Franck Goddio studied at the École Nationale Supérieure de la Statistique et de l’Administration Economique. After working as a United Nations consultant in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos in 1973–74, he was seconded by France’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Ministry of the Economy and Finance in Laos in 1975, before becoming an advisor to the Saudi Arabian government and helping to set up the Saudi Development Fund. On his return to France in 1983 he opted for a sabbatical year so as to pursue personal interests.

This led to an investigation of the possibilities in international marine archaeology. And for a very good reason: Franck Goddio is the grandson of Éric de Bisschop, sailor, adventurer and writer, discoverer ofthe old navigation routes in the South Pacific and inventor of the modern catamaran.

Goddio combines his fascination with underwater adventure with sound analytical skills. At the time, marine archaeology was the domain of a handful of specialists with very limited resources and Goddio realised that there was room in the field for a private company cooperating with governments – while remaining independent – to develop ways of working and an appropriated strategy.

The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs recommended him to the Philippines, which had requested French help with a search for an East India Company vessel lost in the China Sea in 1773. Carried out in conjunction with the National Museum, this initial venture met with rapid success. It was followed by other major discoveries, among them the treasures of the San Diego, a Spanish galleon that had sunk in 1600. Some of the finds are exhibited at the Museo Naval in Madrid.

In 2003 Goddio became joint founder of the Oxford Centre for Maritime Archaeology (OCMA), attached to the University of Oxford.

In 1992 he began working with Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities on a large-scale archaeological project that led to the mapping of the Great Port of Alexandria and the discovery of a major shrine at Canopus East in the Bay of Aboukir and of the city of Thonis-Heracleion, located some 7 km from the coast. “Egypt. Sunken Treasures” exhibition presents a selection – the most beautiful and most historically significant – of the artefacts recovered during these ventures.
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