(guest post by Celeste Jordan)
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?