Exploring the Harbors of Old Knidos – Institute of Nautical Archaeology https://nauticalarch.org Institute of Nautical Archaeology Sun, 18 Feb 2018 21:37:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.4 Public relations on the beach https://nauticalarch.org/public-relations-on-the-beach/ Thu, 13 Aug 2015 04:34:14 +0000 http://nauticalarch.org/?p=4874  

(guest post by Corwan Groux)

Discussing the site with   summer residents of Datca.

Discussing the site with summer residents of Datca.

Every morning as we set up equipment on the beach and assemble the dredges, we are passed by people doing a little morning exercise or walking their dogs, some of whom briefly interrupt their routine to observe us. One of the nice things about the residents of Datça is that many of them seem to be genuinely curious about what we are doing here. A few days ago, I was dumping a bucket of rocks on shore when a passing couple called out to me. I couldn’t understand a word of what they were asking, and yet their meaning was crystal clear. I mustered forth the limited Turkish vocabulary I possess (most of which consists of various foods anyways), and bravely attempted to explain that we were archaeologists working in the liman (Turkish for harbour) of Eski Knidos (Old Knidos). As it turned out, the Turkish couple spoke better English than I did Turkish, so I was able to explain in a little more detail the aims of our project. After a few minutes of stilted conversation, we parted ways and I went back to my sieve, hoping to find something exciting.

Corwan and Peter man the sieve as Lana and Michael work in L1 and M1.

Corwan and Peter man the sieve as Lana and Michael work in L1 and M1.

Ode to a Honda Pump https://nauticalarch.org/ode-to-a-honda-pump/ Wed, 12 Aug 2015 04:32:08 +0000 http://nauticalarch.org/?p=4872  

(Arriving slightly late to Burgaz this season, Megan Collier rhapsodizes over the new Honda pumps, a vast improvement over last year’s Palmeras)

Our Honda pumps at work.

Our Honda pumps at work.

Upon the metal table lies

Our productivity’s demise

Whether clay, silt, sand, or rocks,

Nothing flows while us it mocks.


But lo! What is this new machine

That diligently drones and squares makes clean?

It cures all evidence of prior grumps

Our marvelous gleaming Honda pumps.


The Onion Net https://nauticalarch.org/the-onion-net/ Sun, 09 Aug 2015 04:39:21 +0000 http://nauticalarch.org/?p=4664  

(Guest post by Michael Williams)

Michael’s triumph over the Onion Net

 Corwan and my introduction to the Burgaz Harbors Project has come in the form of removing the backfill placed in 2014 into L1’s Trench 5, units L and M. A layer of green mesh protected the excavated area; removal of the backfill became a hunt for this mesh, which we found in many layers, wrapped around the backfill in layers like the skin of an onion. Though I have not yet experienced true stratigraphy on the site, I present here an (somewhat humorous) overview of our triumphant work.

 Layer One:

This is the Onion Net’s easily removable crunchy skin, which will never make contact with its core.

[The loose silty topsoil, under which the net resides, beneath more than a metre of rocks/gravel.]

Layer Two:

While peeling the second layer, we develop a sense of the entire picture, learning how to operate the tools required for the removal of the Onion Net’s layers, and its eventual dicing.

[During the removal of approximately 30 cm of backfill, we become acquainted with underwater archaeological methods and equipment, including the trowel, shovel, bucket, dredge, SCUBA gear, and how to work in limited visibility.]

Layer Three:

After peeling off the second layer, we think that the Onion Net is ripe for dicing, but realise that the next layer is spoiled and soggy.

[After excavating the backfill to approximately 60 cm, a few traces of the net appear throughout the pit, but we find ourselves bombarded by many more stones and much more gravel. When we try to pull at the net, it doesn’t budge an inch.]

The Onion Net’s insides are uncovered after the removal of the third layer, and our eyes began to fill with tears.

[The net begins to show itself in its true form, getting stuck in the dredge, making visibility very poor, leaving us disorientated, with emotions spinning from angry, to hopeful, to sad as we wonder when we will ever finish our task.]

Layer Four:

Yet another layer of the Onion Net is revealed and acidic juices from spoiled layers spray more forcefully into our eyes.

[The net is almost completely removed, but large rocks hold it down, which must be removed. Each rock’s removal causes a cloud of sediment that reduces visibility almost entirely. The net also becomes monstrous, wrapping us up in its mesh flesh!]

Reaching the Net:

The Onion Net is now peeled and diced, with all its skin and spoiled layers thrown into the bin. Now we have the satisfaction of frying the Onion Net and cooking our meal.

[When the majority of the gravel and all the large rocks have finally been removed, the net is ready to be pulled out. Back on shore it is time to light the net on fire (a.k.a. wash and store for the end of this season), and happily begin real excavation using the skills we learned from defeating the Onion Net.]


**No Onion Nets were harmed during the activities described in this blog.

From dredges to drawing: a dry perspective on a maritime excavation https://nauticalarch.org/from-dredges-to-drawing-a-dry-perspective-on-a-maritime-excavation/ Sat, 08 Aug 2015 03:26:30 +0000 http://nauticalarch.org/?p=4651  

(guest post by Sarah Wilker)

Sarah draws ceramics at the dig house

Underwater excavations are, by definition, quite wet. From wet suits to water dredges, most excavation work is done entirely submerged. Yet while excavation itself is water based, artifact cataloguing and processing is a much drier experience. This summer I have been able to experience this drier side of the excavation by working almost entirely with the excavated pottery. The work includes but is not limited to desalinating pottery, sorting sherds by usage and fabric, and drawing and taking photos of diagnostic pieces. When working with the pottery, my main tasks are fabric sorting and drawing, two jobs that have afforded me a strikingly bifurcated view of the ceramics coming out of the trenches. While fabric sorting provides a broad picture of more of the pottery, drawing individual diagnostic finds compels a much narrower focus.

Fabric sorting is the process by which we separate sherds into groups based on their respective clay fabric. This fabric sorting focuses mainly on the amphora fragments. When fabric sorting pieces of amphoras, I clip a small piece off of each sherd, in order to expose the fabric of the piece. While the fabric is somewhat visible on the surface of the piece, it is difficult to accurately discern because of the sherd’s exposure to salt water over an extended period of time. Over the past several years, we have used both qualitative analysis and XRF analysis to figure out which fabrics come from local workshops, and which fabrics can be classified as imports. Through this analysis, we can learn more about both ceramic production and trade in the area. Fabric sorting affords me a very wide angle view of the ceramics being excavated. As I look more at groups of sherds than individual pieces, I can see general patterns in the pottery as a whole.

Pottery drawing, on the other hand, allows for a much narrower perspective on the excavated ceramics. After the sherds have been desalinated and dried, diagnostic sherds are selected for drawing and photography. Diagnostic sherds have an identifying feature, like a rim or a base, that allows them to be linked to a specific type of vessel and dated to a specific time period. While photography only shows a piece of pottery the way it is now, drawing can help illustrate the way a particular ceramic form once looked, by showing the diameter, profile, and all visible contour lines. Unlike the broader lens of fabric sorting, pottery drawing enables me to see individual diagnostic pieces in great detail, and gives me a sense of individual finds rather than the whole assemblage.

While my activities this season on the Burgaz Harbors Project may not be typical of an underwater archaeology experience, being submerged in the pottery has allowed me a new vantage point on the excavation, and given me a better understanding of the material uncovered in the field.

The fabrics of antiquity 
 https://nauticalarch.org/the-fabrics-of-antiquity-%e2%80%a8-%e2%80%a8/ Thu, 06 Aug 2015 04:02:32 +0000 http://nauticalarch.org/?p=4658  

(guest post by Peter Mizanski)

Peter hopes his missing lens might emerge from James' dredge.

Peter hopes his missing lens might emerge from James’ dredge.

Upon my return to the harbors of Burgaz, one of my first tasks this season was an introduction to sorting ceramic sherds by their fabrics. Last year I sorted ceramics by functional groups, including transport wares, common ware, cooking ware, fine ware, and assorted bricks and tiles. This year I learned how to group the ceramics recovered from the harbors in 2014 by their different fabrics.

The fabrics of ceramics are determined by the composition of the clay and other materials of construction. This process involves first clipping off a piece of the sherd in order to observe with an eyeglass lens a clear view of the composition of the ceramic. At this point, studying such things as the texture of the clay as well as the inclusion of temper (extra material added to the clay in order to strengthen the vessels) allowed me to begin grouping. The sherds in the number and type of natural inclusions and temper such as quartz, sand, or grog (small bits of ground up, recycled pottery). Through this method of sorting, I have gained an even greater appreciation of the ceramic finds at Burgaz as I think through the differences between local and imported fabrics in use at the site.

Find of the day https://nauticalarch.org/find-of-the-day/ Mon, 03 Aug 2015 04:59:34 +0000 http://nauticalarch.org/?p=4677  

A spectacular find from P1 today was a double-sided wooden comb, with fine and wide-spaced teeth on opposite sides. Preservation in the thick clay sediment is impressive, even in what must be fairly late levels. A good maritime parallel for the comb comes from the 11th-century shipwreck at Serçe Limani where a similar comb was interpreted by George Bass as being used for shipboard delousing… a wonderful insight into the realities of life at sea in the past!

A wooden comb once used to delouse a sailor?

A wooden comb once used to delouse a sailor?

Reference: Bass, G.F. 2004. “Personal Effects.” In Serçe Limani: An Eleventh-Century Shipwreck. Vol. 1, The Ship and Its Anchorage, Crew, and Passengers. Edited by G. F. Bass, S Matthews, J.R. Steffy and F.H. van Doorninck Jr., 275-287. College Station, Texas A&M University Press.

Getting Zen about being comfortably uncomfortable, again https://nauticalarch.org/getting-zen-about-being-comfortably-uncomfortable-again/ Sun, 02 Aug 2015 04:05:29 +0000 http://nauticalarch.org/?p=4661  

(guest post by Celeste Jordan)

Celeste gets comfortably uncomfortable in N1

No one ever said that archaeology isn’t hard work. Diving is pretty hard work too; the gear alone is a pain. Combining the two in underwater archaeology makes for a sandwich of hard work with you, voluntarily, in the middle. This is not my first underwater project but each project is so different and comes with its own set of unique challenges. I think we get so lost in the romance of both archaeology and diving that when we are reacquainted with the realities, we have to remind ourselves that fieldwork is not always glamorous.

I have lain on Burgaz’s harbour bed for a number of days now and the phrase that constantly rings through my mind is “comfortably uncomfortable”. To the general limited visibility there is the added complication of manoeuvring dredge equipment underwater while trying to remain in your 2m x 2m square and not kick another diver in the face. Not always an easy task as you cannot always tell where you are in space and time as the visibility reduces continually over the course of the dive, making moments of clarity a treat.

Not coming from a Classics background, I’m utterly out of my depth with the ceramic material being excavated, though I am hoping to find hull timbers to record. So far, learning to decipher between cookware and amphora body sherds, MacGyver-ing a light box for photography, and diving in 2m of water has been an enlightening experience.

Comfortably uncomfortable is an everyday occurrence and remains at the forefront of my mind in almost everything I do here. Being comfortably uncomfortable is integral to any learning experience and learning to be Zen about it is also part of the process, so are heavy gear, lack of visibility, and a lack of prior knowledge of the materials we’re excavating. Isn’t that the fun of learning and archaeology?


Dredge assembly https://nauticalarch.org/dredge-assembly/ Wed, 29 Jul 2015 15:07:58 +0000 http://nauticalarch.org/?p=4689  

Justin and Celeste assemble hoses for the dredges

Thanks to equipment maintenance money provided by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, we were able to upgrade to Honda pumps for our water dredges this year. Preparations at the dig house include attaching new fittings and hoses to these pumps, which we expect to start easily, run smoothly, and streamline our daily activities on the site tremendously.

Lana oversees the attachment of fittings to the pumps

Hitting the ground running https://nauticalarch.org/hitting-the-ground-running/ Wed, 29 Jul 2015 08:29:10 +0000 http://nauticalarch.org/?p=4643  

(guest post by James Gross)

Last week I was proud to have learned just enough Italian to successfully order my biscotto gelato in downtown Marzamemi. Today I realized that I have a long way to go before I know enough Turkish to get myself an ice cream in Eski Datca. As I pulled myself onto the boat for the last time at Marzamemi, hastily cleaned dive gear, packed the dredges into storage, and prepared to leave for the airport I had to simultaneously come to terms with the end of one excavation season and the beginning of another. There is still so much more work to be done at Marzamemi, and the possibilities for next year are tantalizing, but there is a definite feeling of satisfaction and relief when you are there to close the doors at the end and truly feel done. It was a strange feeling at that moment to realize that I was only halfway through my season.

James moves rocks while excavating at Marzamemi (photo courtesy Marzamemi Maritime Heritage Project)

The next day took me to INA’s Bodrum Research Center where I hastened to prepare gear and myself for the trip to Datça to meet the rest of the team and begin excavation at Burgaz. That day and the rest since have been filled with feelings of déjà vu. Reconnecting with old friends and making new ones feels a bit strange when it was only a few days earlier that I said goodbye to others. And there is nothing that leaves one more confused than taking apart and packing away dredges one day only to take different ones out of storage and put them back together. Despite these bizarre feelings, diving into a new excavation has been exhilarating. Just as I began to feel worn out and tired, the new faces, new places, and general excitement at Burgaz renewed my energy. Memories from last year flooded back and I have adjusted to my new environment far better than I had expected.

This is not to say I haven’t caught myself looking for the marble and columns of the Marzamemi II shipwreck in the harbors of Burgaz, but I am well on my way to settling into my new routine. My excitement to learn more about the site has returned in full, and I look forward eagerly to a long and successful season here.

Road building https://nauticalarch.org/road-building/ Tue, 28 Jul 2015 15:03:04 +0000 http://nauticalarch.org/?p=4685  

Lana directs road construction…

Sometimes archaeology involves unexpected work such as the road-building project we embarked upon when we realized that last year’s road to the site was now planted with tomatoes and cucumbers. The two horses and many sheep that graze along our new route don’t seem bothered by our passing.

And interestingly, it looks like some remnants of the city wall may lie beneath the modern farming fence.

…then inspects the wall uncovered beneath