The ﬁrst lntemational Symposium on Boat and Ship Archaeology (ISBSA) was organized on the suggest of E.V. ‘Ted’ Wright by the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England, in 1976.
The purpose was to « bring together all those involved in the study of the form, structure, function, and operational performance of ancient boats”.
Under the direction of Sean McGrail, the chairman of the organising committee, the first symposium examined the methodological problems of studying boat remains. Many of the topics addressed at that initial meeting, such as experimental archaeology and ethnography have remained core elements in the programs of subsequent conferences.
The themes of meetings have varied, although the subject matter until 2000 was primarily focused on Northern Europe. Held every three years since 1976, the meetings were hosted by a different institution, and all the proceedings have been published. These volumes have become not only sources of much useful information for scholars of the history of shipbuilding, but also a snapshot history of the field of maritime archaeology in Europe over almost four decades.