Honor Frost was a pioneer of underwater archaeology and amongst the first to combine the discipline of archaeology with diving. Frost’s first dive experience in a well in London in 1953 and her first dive on an ancient shipwreck a year later sparked a lifetime of underwater exploration.
Frost’s career in maritime archaeology can be traced to the 1950s, having participated in the excavation of the Cape Gelidonya wreck, widely considered to be the first ever underwater excavation carried out by diving archaeologists. Frost’s work would go on to span the Mediterranean basin, from the shores of Turkey, the harbours of Lebanon and Egypt, to the coasts of Sicily and Malta. Frost’s connection to Malta began in 1967 when she travelled to the island to map and excavate a 3rd century AD Roman shipwreck located in Mellieħa Bay. Frost would go on to publish the results in 1969. From a local perspective, this excavation marks the beginnings of scientific underwater excavation in Malta, and through her collaboration with local heritage authorities, her notes, drawings and recovered artefacts are today archived at the National Museum of Archaeology.
This first visit probably sparked Honor Frost’s long connection to Malta, where she later purchased a house in Senglea overlooking the Grand Harbour which was considered her Mediterranean base. A lifelong promotor of underwater archaeology, Honor Frost helped found the Council for Nautical Archaeology, sat on the Council for the Society for Nautical Research, and was a crucial part of establishing the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology in 1972. Frost left the bulk of her estate to establish a foundation that would continue to promote marine and maritime archaeology, with a particular focus on the eastern Mediterranean. The Honor Frost Foundation was established in 2011 and has since supported countless projects across the Mediterranean, including the excavation of the Phoenician Shipwreck off Xlendi Bay, Gozo.
On the centenary of Frost’s birth, the Under the Mediterranean conference was organised in Cyprus in October 2017. The success of this conference led to the organisation of a second edition, Under the Mediterranean II, this time scheduled to be held in Malta from 2nd to 6th November 2022. Organised by the University of Malta, the conference is supported by Heritage Malta, the Honor Frost Foundation, Conventions Malta and the Ministry for Finance and Employment.
The exhibition at the National Museum of Archaeology highlighting Frost’s connection to Malta is being organised to coincide with the conference. The intention is to offer a snapshot of Frost’s work in Malta with illustrations, artefacts and even parts of her dive equipment, which was donated to the Malta Maritime Museum, on display for the public to explore. Entrance is free of charge.
Honor Frost’s Malta: A Pioneer in the Centre of the Mediterranean
03 Nov 2022 - 15 Jan 2023
Mon to Sun (Closed on Christmas Eve & Day, New Year’s Eve & Day): 09.00 am - 16.30 pm
National Museum of Archaeology, Valletta, Malta