The Leon Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies at the University of Haifa (RIMS) was established in 1972 next to the Department of Maritime Civilizations, in order to support and develop a holistic, interdisciplinary approach to the research of the encounter between human civilizations and the maritime medium. The Institute conducts research projects which encompass a variety of aspects related to human interaction with the sea, first and foremost focusing on the past, but also much aware of relevant present and future implications. The Institute bridges between the Humanities, Social and Natural Sciences, and Technology, by supporting a wide range of disciplines, and the meaningful interaction between them. Relevant fields include marine and coastal archaeology, Mediterranean history, marine geology and coastal geomorphology, geo-ethnoarchaeology, archaeological materials, oceanography, marine biology and ecology, and marine resources. The Institute is unique in Israel, and widely known internationally, and it engages in a broad spectrum of collaborative efforts with other research institutions in Israel and abroad.
The Institute supports the following activities:
- The research of senior researchers, ten (10) in number, all of whom are also faculty members at the Department of Maritime Civilizations, where they teach and run their respective research laboratories.
- The research of research associates, usually around twenty (20) in number, conducting their research under the auspices of the Institute, using its resources, and publishing under its name.
- The research of postdocs (5), PhD students (20), and MA students (40) at the Department of Maritime Civilizations, who are entitled to research grants and scholarships from funds especially dedicated for the purpose.
- The needs of the Department of Maritime Civilizations itself, which employs the resources of the Institute in order to produce some of its field activities, aimed to train its students for work in coastal and underwater environments.
The resources of the Institute include:
- The laboratory for restoration and preservation.
- The graphics laboratory.
- The petrographic laboratory.
- The Elaine Recanati Marine Research Laboratories:
- The conservation laboratory for waterlogged wood and organic materials.
- The microscope laboratory.
- The geological and geomorphological laboratory.
- The marine mammal laboratory (processing, tissue-banking and skeleton conservation).
- The marine workshop: provides technical support for all field research conducted by the Institute researchers above and below water.
- The administrative unit, also in charge of scientific and academic coordination.
In its early years, the Institute pioneered the Israeli research of the contacts between the sea and the human societies that inhabited its shores throughout history. Since then it has supported countless research projects and publications during its near half-century of activity. Numerous archaeological finds unearthed by researchers affiliated with it are on permanent display both in Israel and abroad. The bronze ram of a 2nd Century BCE warship is on display at the National Maritime Museum in Haifa. Finds from Tel Nami are on display at the Israel Museum. Finds discovered in Caesarea are on display at the Ralli Museum in Caesarea and in the past were displayed at the Smithsonian Institution and other important museums in North America. The 2,400-year-old Ma‘agan Mikhael ship was preserved and reassembled, and is displayed in the special wing dedicated to the late Dr. Elisha Linder in the Hecht Museum, University of Haifa. Most recently, an inscribed statue base was discovered in the northern bay of Dor, and read by researchers from the Institute as a dedication from Dor a hitherto unknown Roman governor of Judea in the years leading to the Bar Kokhba revolt.
The Institute – offices and laboratories – is situated in the Multipurpose Building on the campus of the University of Haifa on Mount Carmel and, as a research center, it is affiliated to the university’s Research Authority. The marine workshop of the Institute shares its time between the Israel Oceanographic and Limnologic Research (IOLR) in Haifa, where its scuba diving facilities are located, and the School for Marine Cadets in Akko, where most of its equipment and vessels are placed.