From the Field: September 19, 2006
With torrential rains sweeping the Crimea for days, the final weeks of the 2006 excavation season at Novy Svet have been wet, cold, and frustrating for the dive team. The storms have driven the water temperatures down from its usual 20 degrees to a cold 10 degrees Celsius, making diving very uncomfortable for even the hardiest diver in a full-exposure, 7 mm-thick wetsuit. The rain has also washed the dusty cliffs and peaks of the surrounding mountains leaving massive brown clouds of sediment and silt suspended in the water around the coastline where we work. Even if the water were warm enough to dive in, conditions would be far from ideal: this mountain runoff prevents any diver from seeing even just a few feet in front of him.
Yet even though the last days of the season were a wash out, looking back, we are all proud of the incredible amount of work we accomplished this season, with the discovery and documentation of dozens and dozens of wonderful artifacts including intact amphorae, glazeware in extraordinary condition, and objects such as melted glass. The last is strong evidence that the ship sank by fire, which matches the historical narrative about the Pisan galley. Our progress was largely because of the special equipment we were lucky enough to have, such as our hookah air compressor and digital underwater video camera, but what really brought about the success of this season was the pervasive spirit of teamwork and collaboration that has been with the project since its conception.
Archaeology cannot be done alone and every team member and supporter of this project, from the Ukrainian volunteer divers, to the international student team members, to our generous sponsors, has been a conduit for the infectious synergy that drives this program. Through international collaboration and multimedia documentation we hope to bring the fruits of our labors to the world, but we also seek to reach out and attract those that can help us in future seasons and discoveries. We hope to forge relationships with the Institute for Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M and the newly formed Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World at Brown University, to name but a few. These new collaborations can bring new resources, tools, and people to our disposal for survey, excavation, and publication. The Crimean peninsula is still a largely untapped resource for nautical archaeology and, given its history, still hold many secrets below the surface.
But, as this year's excavation season draws to a close, and our Ukrainian colleagues pack away their soggy diving gear to focus their attention on more terrestrial matters, we must begin to plan for next year. The project recently purchased a house on the outskirts of Sudak to serve as a base for operations in Novy Svet and for surveys and excavations in the nearby Cape of Meganom. Though it is in need of extensive repair and renovation, we hope that by next year our new base will be outfitted with a conservation lab, computer lab with Internet, and living spaces for all team members. Of course, we cannot achieve this without the generous support of donors and sponsors, and for some of us, finding them will be the focus of the year ahead. For others, it will be in the lab, studying the many artifacts recovered from this and previous seasons, or in front of the podium giving presentations to archaeology students and professionals. For one lucky student, Megan Goetsch, her place is in the virtual studio, creating and editing a documentary film from the nine hours of raw digital footage we shot during session one of the field school. She has found guidance and inspiration from Chris Witmore, a new professor at Brown University whose specialty is archaeology and new media. Both anthropological
and film theory will play an important part in the final structure of the film which, Megan says, will bring the whole experience of the excavation to the viewer. We hope this cutting-edge production will educate, inspire, and convey the sensations of discovery underwater.
Others who returned to the United States have not been idle either. For instance, I have been invited to give a lecture at an upcoming colloquium on underwater archaeology at Brown University on Saturday, October 28. I will have the honor there of speaking about the project to an audience that will include representatives from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and the University of Rhode Island. It should be a perfect opportunity to garner interest in the project and to get more people and institutions involved. If anyone is interested in attending the colloquium please let me know through email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or the Interactive Dig forum and I can send you the details.
Many thanks again to all of those who have made this year's season and Interactive Dig possible, I have enjoyed interacting with all of you and hope to be back soon next year with more to come. For now, from all of us, Dasvedanya!