Honor Frost
Honor Frost
Honor Frost
Born(1917-10-28)28 October 1917
Nicosia, Cyprus
Died12 September 2010(2010-09-12) (aged 92)
Scientific career
FieldsUnderwater archaeology
InstitutionsInstitute of Archaeology

Honor Frost (28 October 1917 – 12 September 2010) was a pioneer in the field of underwater archaeology, who led many Mediterranean archaeological investigations, especially in Lebanon, and was noted for her typology of stone anchors and skills in archaeological illustration.[1]

Early life

An only child, Frost was born in Nicosia, Cyprus. She was orphaned at an early age and became the ward of Wilfred Evill, a London solicitor and art collector.[2]

Frost studied art at the Central School of Art, and the Ruskin School of art, she then worked on ballet set design with Rambert and held a job at Tate Britain as the Director of Publications.[3] Alongside these artistic pursuits, she was also the adventurous sort who once donned a WW2 diving suit at a friend's party in Wimbledon in order to go diving into the 17th-century well in the backyard. From this first foray into diving onward, Frost was enamoured with the practice, once claiming that, “Time spent out of the water was time wasted.”[4]


Frost became a diver soon after Cousteau's invention of SCUBA, and worked as a diver and artist in the early 1950s in France and Italy.[5] As a member of the world's first scuba diving club, the Club Alpin Sous-Marin,[4] her first experience of the underwater excavation of shipwrecks was with Frédéric Dumas.[6] Dumas would later go on to help her on the Gelidonya excavation.[7]

In 1957, Frost worked on her first land excavation as a draughtsmen in Jericho led by Dame Kathleen Kenyon.[7]

An expedition in Turkey resulted in the discovery of a late Bronze Age shipwreck at Gelidonya, for which Frost is credited as having realised its significance. The wreck had been previously discovered by Turkish diver Mustafa Kapkin and U.S. photo-journalist Peter Throckmorton in 1959. However, it was Frost who recognised that the wreck was not Mycenean, but Phoenician, thus providing the first evidence that Phoenicians had been trading on the seas before the Iron Age.[4] She convinced Joan du Plat Taylor, whom she had met at the Institute of Archaeology in London, to become co-director of the excavation at Gelidonya. It was later the site of George Bass's and Peter Throckmorton's first work in underwater archaeology at Cape Gelidonya in the Antalya region of southern Turkey. The Bronze Age shipwreck, which dated to the 12th century BC, was the oldest known shipwreck in the world at that time.[8] The excavation of this wreck is of special significance, as it was the first to be conducted following a rigorous scientific approach.[4] The Gelidonya excavation was also the first shipwreck that was fully excavated on the seabed.[7]

In 1968 she led a UNESCO expedition to survey the Pharos site in the Port of Alexandria, for which she was later awarded, in 1997, a French government medal for pioneering submarine archaeology in Egypt.[9]

From 1971 she led the investigation of the Marsala Punic shipwreck in Sicily, Italy.[10]

In 2005, BSAC awarded her the Colin McLeod award for Furthering international co-operation in diving for her work in archaeology.[11]

She died on 12 September 2010.[12][3] The substantial art collection that she had inherited upon Wilfred Evill's death was used to endow the Honor Frost Foundation which supplies funds for underwater archaeology in the Mediterranean.[4] The Honor Frost Archive, part of the Maritime Archaeology Special Collections at the University of Southampton Library, contains field notes, drawings, and reports from her archaeological work, as well as a large number of photographs.[13] Many of her books are also now held at the University of Southampton library.[14]

Personal life

Frost owned a second home in Malta with her primary residence in Marylebone as inherited from Evill, where she possessed a major collection of artworks from 20th-century British painters, especially those by Stanley Spencer. This collection was auctioned after her death, the proceeds of which comprise the bulk of funding for the Honor Frost Foundation. She regularly contributed to the Mariner's Mirror, the journal published by the Society of Nautical Studies, most notably on the anchor, which was regarded as her favourite topic.[3]

Selected publications

See also


  1. ^ Norton (1999) p235, Shea (1981), Vagnetti (1998)
  2. ^ "Obituary: Honor Frost". London: The Daily Telegraph, UK. 29 October 2010. Retrieved 30 October 2010.
  3. ^ a b c Carswell, John (26 October 2010). "Honor Frost obituary: Pioneer of underwater archaeology fascinated by the Mediterranean". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 October 2010.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Honor Frost | TrowelBlazers". trowelblazers.com. 9 May 2014. Retrieved 20 October 2015.
  5. ^ Hirschfeld p11
  6. ^ Norton (1999) p. 235
  7. ^ a b c "Honor Frost - Pioneering maritime archaeologist". Honor Frost Foundation. Retrieved 17 January 2023.
  8. ^ Hirschfeld pp11-12, Norton(1999) p. 234, pp. 248–252, 253–258
  9. ^ UNESCO (1997); Dept. Culture; Hairy (2006)
  10. ^ The Times (2004); Frost (1974), see selected papers
  11. ^ BSAC (2005–2010)
  12. ^ The Times, 17 September 2010; Gambin (2010)
  13. ^ "Honor Frost Archive catalogue" (PDF).
  14. ^ Ruthven, Jenny. "LibGuides@Southampton: Honor Frost Library, Special Collections, Hartley Library: About". library.soton.ac.uk. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  15. ^ "Saudi Aramco World : Diggings In The Deep". archive.aramcoworld.com. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  16. ^ Frost, H (1985). "Pyramidal" stone anchors: an inquiry. In: TROPIS I. 1st International Symposium on Ship Construction in Antiquity (PDF). Piraeus. pp. 97–112. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 June 2010.
  17. ^ Tzalas, H.E. (1987). TROPIS 2. 2nd International Symposium on Ship Construction in Antiquity (PDF).
  18. ^ H. Tzalas (19 June 2010). "TROPIS III. Proceedings of the 3rd International Symposium on Ship Construction in Antiquity" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 19 June 2010. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  19. ^ H.E., Tzalas (1996). TROPIS IV (PDF).