Diving and Underwater Technology 1405-1830

by Nigel Phillips

The largest and most detailed study of the history of early diving and underwater technology ever published


  • Diving without apparatus
  • The early years, 1405–1660
  • The Beginning of Scientific Diving, 1661–1700
  • Continuing efforts, 1701–1790
  • Technical Success, 1791–1830

Fully illustrated, indexed and referenced.


2 volumes. Over 900 pages, 289 illustrations almost entirely from original sources and many in colour. Crown quarto (10 x 8 inches, 254 x 203 mm.). Case-bound in cloth.

Published by Nigel Phillips, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-9996777-0-1

Price (per set of 2 volumes)

All prices include postage

UK: £150

EU: £168

Elsewhere: £182

In stock

For orders of more than one copy, please contact us directly.

Diving and Underwater Technology 1405–1830 studies all the early methods of going under water, and reveals why the most important innovations occurred when they did.

From the designs of 15th and 16th century military engineers to the birth of natural philosophy and science and on into the industrial revolution, the author traces the development of diving and underwater technology up the introduction of the standard dress in the nineteenth century.

It studies all the printed books and numerous manuscripts on the subject produced between 1405 and 1830. Manuscripts or printed works which contain a description of diving apparatus, of an actual dive, or are wholly devoted to diving are included as a principal entry; other works without these specific details but which refer to diving, diving apparatus, shipwrecks, salvage of wrecks, and similar subjects, are included in the linking text. Each principal entry gives the author, his dates of birth and death and a brief biography, the title of the work, the reference to the relevant passage, and a note on the text. Up to about 1730 most of the principal entries include the complete text either in the original English or in an English translation, together with any illustrations. Those that do not are in most cases either quoted, paraphrased or translated elsewhere in the book.

It is also fully indexed and includes a bibliography which lists every edition of all the principal printed sources in the same order as in the main text.

Profusely illustrated and with detailed bibliographies of all the sources.

An essential addition to reference libraries, collectors and divers of all persuasions.

Quite simply the most authoritative and comprehensive historical review of diving technology that has ever been produced. It has been meticulously and painstakingly researched to the highest professional standard. This handsome two-volume book is destined to become the ‘oracle’ for all diving historians.

Dr. John Bevan FRSA

Chairman, Historical Diving Society

Given that so much of the material derives not from printed books but from articles in domestic and foreign periodicals, it is a remarkable catalogue of relevant but obscure primary sources, which must have taken many years to accumulate and resource, [and] ... the arrangement of the book is excellent in terms of layout, variation of type, and use of colour.

Prof. Alastair Compston FRS

Nigel Phillips’ new two-volume publication Diving and Underwater Technology 1405-1830 is without doubt the most comprehensive account of early diving ever published. It records all the known early records of inventions and is a work of dedication that must have taken years to complete. Every early foreign text is translated into English and there are hundreds of illustrations in black and white and colour.

It will doubtless be consulted by researchers and historians for many years to come.

The seminal work on ancient diving.

R. L. Vallintine

International Journal of Diving History