Under the Surface
The extraordinary life of Honor Frost (1917-2010),
first female maritime archaeologist of the 20th century, between England and the Mediterranean.
Talpa Produzioni in collaboration with Honor Frost Foundation
PROJECT FOR A DOCUMENTARY
by Claudia Pampinella and Elena Flavia Castagnino Berlinghieri
with the consultation of
Elena Flavia Castagnino Berlinghieri, maritime archaeologist
in collaboration with
Claire Calcagno, maritime archaeologist
phase: in development
Time spent on the surface is time wasted.
Honor Frost was one of the first female maritime archaelogists of the 20th century.
The sea is written in Honor Frost’s destiny right from the early years of her life. She was born in Nicosia, in British Cyprus, in 1917. Both her parents die when she is still very young and she is entrusted into the care of a guardian: Wilfred Ariel Evill, an English lawyer and art collector. Honor moves to London. Thanks to Wilfred and the studies at the Central School of London she comes into contact with the art world and lives this life intensely. From now on, and throughout her life, Honor will always try to get back to her roots, to her “Mediterranean being”.
Her natural talent for drawing soon leads to her first involvement in archaeological expeditions that see her first in Jordan (1957) as an illustrator; then on the Turkish coast, Cape Gelidonya (1959), collaborating to the excavation of “the oldest Bronze Age shipwreck known at that time”; in Lebanon (1962/63).
In 1963, an event happens that will change her life once again: Wilfred Ariel Evill dies and leaves Honor his art collection and residence in Welbeck Street. From that moment, her travels increase and confirm Honor’s continued commitment to the study of underwater archaeology: in Malta (1967); in Alexandria in Egypt (1968) where she discovers the remains of the lost palace of Alexander and Ptolemy.
At the end of 1968, five years after the publication of her book Under the Mediterranean, Honor is entrusted, with the direction of the most important excavation campaign of her life (in the waters of Marsala in Sicily), which will last 8 years: bringing to light what will prove to be the only example of a Punic war ship, sunk in the Battle of the Aegadian Islands in 241 B.C.
Almost forty years have passed. Honor goes back again to London to get ready for her new journey to India, a journey that she will never make. She dies in London on 12 September 2010.
With her extraordinary passion and competence, despite not having an academic backround, Honor Frost was able to make incredible discoveries and create a new revolutionary research method, achieving international recognition.
One year after her death, in June 2011 at Sotheby’s the auction of the Evill-Frost art collection took place, as set out in Honor’s will. We discover that it is one of the most important collections of British contemporary art ever sold in the United Kingdom.
Today the Honor Frost Foundation is dedicated to underwater archaelogy with particular attention to the Eastern Mediterranean.