Tag Archives: Maritime Archaeology

Photo Journal of Project SAMPHIRE: The First Five Days – Oban to Rasaay

By: Chelsea Colwell-Pasch

Project SAMPHIRE is now in full swing as the team island hops along Scotland’s Western coast and islands aboard DVS Kylebhan (Figure 1). The team travelled from Oban, mainland Scotland, to the Isle of Rasaay in the first five days, conducting archaeological surveys both above and below the water and spanning Mesolithic sites to nineteenth Century shipwrecks.

Figure 1. DVS Kylebhan is a 20 metre (67 feet) trawler converted to a dive charter boat. It can accommodate 12 passengers and is very comfortable for the SAMPHIRE team of six plus the two crew (Photo by: Chelsea Colwell-Pasch)

Figure 1. DVS Kylebhan is a 20 metre (67 feet) trawler converted to a dive charter boat. It can accommodate 12 passengers and is very comfortable for the SAMPHIRE team of six plus the two crew (Photo by: Chelsea Colwell-Pasch)

This year’s Project SAMPHIRE has six potential archaeological sites slated for investigation, however other sites were and are still being located during the course of the field work and added to the Project’s mandate. This blog is a photo journal of the first five days of Project SAMPHIRE’s journey and archaeological investigations.

Day One: Oban to Tobermory (Isle of Mull)

Figure 2. The steam Northwest to Tobermory, Isle of Mull from Oban on mainland Scotland.

Figure 2. The steam Northwest to Tobermory, Isle of Mull from Oban on mainland Scotland.

Figure 3.  Prof. Kurt Lambeck (Australian National University, Canberra) presenting his lecture on glacial rebound in Scotland at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) (Photo by: Chelsea Colwell-Pasch).

Figure 3. Prof. Kurt Lambeck (Australian National University, Canberra) presenting his lecture on glacial rebound in Scotland at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) (Photo by: Chelsea Colwell-Pasch).

Figure 4. A ‘surprise’ unknown wreck at Tobermory, Isle of Mull, and our docking area for our first night (Photo by: Chelsea Colwell-Pasch). Figure 4. A ‘surprise’ unknown wreck at Tobermory, Isle of Mull, and our docking area for our first night (Photo by: Chelsea Colwell-Pasch).

Day Two: Tobermory (Isle of Mull) to Isle of Eigg, then to Canna

Figure 5. Our travels by sea to Eigg then Canna.

Figure 5. Our travels by sea to Eigg then Canna.

Figure 6. Prof. Karen Hardy from ICREA, Barcelona (far right) showing SAMPHIRE team members Bob MackIntosh (far left), Drew Roberts (middle-left), Chelsea Colwell-Pasch (middle-right) lithics found on her coastal survey of Eigg (Photo by: Jonathan Benjamin).

Figure 6. Prof. Karen Hardy from ICREA, Barcelona (far right) showing SAMPHIRE team members Bob MackIntosh (far left), Drew Roberts (middle-left), Chelsea Colwell-Pasch (middle-right) lithics found on her coastal survey of Eigg (Photo by: Jonathan Benjamin).

Figure 7. Galmisdale Harbour on the Isle of Eigg where the first site survey for Project SAMPHIRE was conducted (Photo by: Chelsea Colwell-Pasch).

Figure 7. Galmisdale Harbour on the Isle of Eigg where the first site survey for Project SAMPHIRE was conducted (Photo by: Chelsea Colwell-Pasch).

Day Three: Canna, Loch Bay, Dunvegan and Uig.

Figure 8. The steam North from Canna to Loch Bay, the site of the second wreck, Dunvegan the planned night dock and Uig the actual night docking area.

Figure 8. The steam North from Canna to Loch Bay, the site of the second wreck, Dunvegan the planned night dock and Uig the actual night docking area.

Figure 9. SAMPHIRE divers Drew Roberts (right) and John McCarthy (left) preparing to dive in Loch Bay on the second project site (Photo by Chelsea Colwell-Pasch).

Figure 9. SAMPHIRE divers Drew Roberts (right) and John McCarthy (left) preparing to dive in Loch Bay on the second project site (Photo by Chelsea Colwell-Pasch).

Figure 10. Chelsea Colwell-Pasch in Uig, Isle of Skye at 22:30 with daylight still visible (Photo by: Jonathan Benjamin).

Figure 10. Chelsea Colwell-Pasch in Uig, Isle of Skye at 22:30 with daylight still visible (Photo by: Jonathan Benjamin).

Day Four: Uig, Loch Bay and Portree, Isle of Skye

Figure 11. The steam from Uig back to Loch Bay, then the long steam to Portree, our port for the night.

Figure 11. The steam from Uig back to Loch Bay, then the long steam to Portree, our port for the night.

Figure 12. SAMPHIRE diver Bob MackIntosh diving in Loch Bay on the projects second site investigation (Photo by: Jonathan Benjamin).

Figure 12. SAMPHIRE diver Bob MackIntosh diving in Loch Bay on the projects second site investigation (Photo by: Jonathan Benjamin).

Figure 13. Dolphins ‘bow-riding’ our vessel Kylebhan on our way to Portree, Isle of Skye (Photo by: Jonathan Benjamin).

Figure 13. Dolphins ‘bow-riding’ our vessel Kylebhan on our way to Portree, Isle of Skye (Photo by: Jonathan Benjamin).

Figure 14. At dock in Portree, Isle of Skye after a long steam from Loch Bay (Photo by: Chelsea Colwell-Pasch).

Figure 14. At dock in Portree, Isle of Skye after a long steam from Loch Bay (Photo by: Chelsea Colwell-Pasch).

Day Five: Portree, Isle of Sky to Clachan Harbour, Isle of Raasay

Figure 15. The steam from Portree to Clachan Harbour, Isle of Raasay.

Figure 15. The steam from Portree to Clachan Harbour, Isle of Raasay.

Figure 16. Clachan Harbour on the Isle of Raasay where the SAMPHIRE team was investigating the area for submerged prehistoric sites (Photo by: Chelsea Colwell-Pasch).

Figure 16. Clachan Harbour on the Isle of Raasay where the SAMPHIRE team was investigating the area for submerged prehistoric sites (Photo by: Chelsea Colwell-Pasch).

Figure 17. Snorkel survey of Clachan Harbour, Raasay for Mesolithic occupation by SAMPHIRE volunteer Chelsea Colwell-Pasch (Photo by: Jonathan Benjamin).

Figure 17. Snorkel survey of Clachan Harbour, Raasay for Mesolithic occupation by SAMPHIRE volunteer Chelsea Colwell-Pasch (Photo by: Jonathan Benjamin).

We are not even halfway through our field work around Scotland’s Western Isles and already Project SAMPHIRE 2014 has been a huge success. Stay informed by following the Project on Twitter (#SAMPHIRE, @WAScotland, @WessexArch, @CColwellPasch) and by checking out the daily posts on the Projects Blog page: http://blogs.wessexarch.co.uk/samphire/

Maritime, Travel and Clyde-built Ships

By: Chelsea Colwell-Pasch

My name is Chelsea Colwell-Pasch and I am a post-graduate student studying maritime archaeology at Flinders University. I am in Scotland this June and July to conduct research for my thesis as well as partake in Wessex Archaeology’s Project SAMPHIRE as a volunteer research assistant. The exciting opportunity to partake in Project SAMPHIRE came about when Dr Jonathan Benjamin, formerly of Wessex Archaeology and current Co-investigator for the Project, took a lecturer position at Flinders University this past January. Dr Benjamin then became my thesis advisor and we began discussing the numerous resources and connections available in Scotland for someone in my position of studying a Clyde-built ship that wrecked in Australia (see Figure 1). The initial idea of a research trip to Scotland for thesis research then grew into a professional development prospect and an opportunity to cultivate a research and industry relationship between Flinders University and Wessex Archaeology. The international cooperation allows an excellent opportunity for professional, academic, volunteer and student involvement. Plus, maritime archaeology is an international discipline with trans-boundary elements and the obvious aspects of transport and travel throughout time.

Figure 1. Chelsea Colwell-Pasch reading an original Lloyd’s Register of Shipping at the Glasgow University Archives in Glasgow, Scotland (Photo by: Chelsea Colwell-Pasch).

Figure 1. Chelsea Colwell-Pasch reading an original Lloyd’s Register of Shipping at the Glasgow University Archives in Glasgow, Scotland (Photo by: Chelsea Colwell-Pasch).

I am halfway through my final year of study and well into my chosen thesis topic which is a multiphasic vessel biography on the wreck of Leven Lass employing the BULSI (Build, Use, Loss, Survival, and Investigation) system. The brig Leven Lass was built in Dumbarton, Scotland, by Denny & Rankine at Denny’s Shipyard number two, in 1839 (The Clyde Built Ships 2014). A brig was a two-masted sailing ship with square rigging on both masts and was commonly used as couriers on coastal routes (Encyclopaedia Britannica Online 2014). Leven Lass had routes between Limerick and Glasgow and then between North America (Canada and West Indies) and Glasgow. It was then sold on 16 September 1852, by Paton and Grant, and sailed from Scotland to Melbourne, Australia on 1 October 1852 by Captain Sholto Gardener Jamieson (1818-1882), arriving in 1853 (Glasgow Herald 17 September 1852:8; Lythgoe 2014; Wilson 2012). It spent the majority of its time in Southeast Australia as a post carrier between Adelaide, Melbourne, Hobart and Sydney and was considered “a remarkably fast sailer”, see Figure 2 (Glasgow Herald 17 September 1852:8).

Figure 2. A Glasgow Herald newspaper article from 1852 calling for cargo applications for Leven Lass’ voyage to Melbourne (Glasgow Herald 17 September 1852:8).

Figure 2. A Glasgow Herald newspaper article from 1852 calling for cargo applications for Leven Lass’ voyage to Melbourne (Glasgow Herald 17 September 1852:8).

As a consequence of my research, I wanted to understand how they deemed Leven Lass to be ‘remarkably fast’. The way they calculated the speed of a vessel was with the ‘measured mile’, which was a nautical mile marked by two pairs of markers. A nautical mile is 6080 feet/1.852 km in length, as opposed to the land based statute mile which is 5280 feet/1.609 km in length (White 2003). A ship would work up to full speed on a steady course, the markers would be in transit (in line with each other) and the time noted then noted again when the next set of markers lined up (White 2003). Usually the average was taken between two runs to allow for wind and tide changes (White 2003). Near Dumbarton where Leven Lass was launched, there is a run that is actually two consecutive miles with three sets of markers (see Figure 3). Ships speed was given in knots, not knots per hour as a knot is one nautical mile per hour (White 2003). This is but one facet of the research I have conducted while in Scotland. My trip has taught me the importance of primary research and how much can be gained by travelling abroad for my research. This trip has been more than useful and the result is a much more in-depth study, without which my thesis would have been limited, or even superficial.

Figure 3. The three sets of measured mile markers on the Isle of Aaran to the SW of Dumbarton (RCAHMS 2014).

Figure 3. The three sets of measured mile markers on the Isle of Aaran to the SW of Dumbarton (RCAHMS 2014).

Leven Lass was chosen as my thesis topic after the 2014 Flinders University Maritime Archaeology Field School conducted at Phillip Island, Victoria this past January (see Figure 4). The field school was centred on a wreck that was determined to be Leven Lass by a previous Flinders masters student who worked on the wreck during the 2012 Maritime Archaeology Field School (Wilson 2012). While the focus of that thesis was more on maritime cultural landscapes and shipwreck identification, my thesis is looking at the vessel’s life cycle or career, from design inception to archaeological investigation, and its broader implications for shipwreck studies, Scottish maritime diaspora and nineteenth century post-colonial Australian seafaring.

Figure 4. A Flinders University Maritime Archaeology Student, records the Clyde-built Leven Lass during the 2014 field school on Phillip Island, Victoria. Another field school is scheduled for February 2015 (Photo by: J. Benjamin).

Figure 4. A Flinders University Maritime Archaeology Student, records the Clyde-built Leven Lass during the 2014 field school on Phillip Island, Victoria. Another field school is scheduled for February 2015 (Photo by: J. Benjamin).

I have only been in Scotland a little over a week, though I have already visited the Glasgow University Archives, RCAHMS, Historic Scotland, the Mitchell Library, University of Edinburgh Library, and the Scottish Maritime Museum (Irvine) and met with various industry professionals. While these investigative avenues have been fruitful, any and all information that may be of value to my thesis research from the public would be appreciated and welcomed. Any information about Denny & Rankine shipbuilders would be especially valuable as there is little data available about them in the archives. I look forward to the rest of my Scotland adventure and to the valuable experiences to be gained with both Wessex Archaeology and with the communities around Scotland.

The SAMPHIRE team and I will be blogging and tweeting (as signal permits!) and we will keep progress reports as up-to-date as possible via the project blog. Please follow this year’s fieldwork (#SAMPHIRE) with Dr  Jonathan Benjamin (@jon_benj), Wessex Archaeology (@wessexarch), and me, Chelsea Colwell-Pasch (@CColwellPasch).

The project blog link: http://blogs.wessexarch.co.uk/samphire/

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References

Encyclopaedia Britannica Online 2014 “Brig”. Retrieved 3 June 2014 from: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/79477/brig.

Glasgow Herald 1852 “At Glasgow – For Melbourne, Port-Phillip”. 17 September: 8.

Lythgoe, Darrin 2014 Shetland Family History. Retrieved 23 May 2014 from: http://www.bayanne.info/Shetland/getperson.php?personID=I11228&tree=ID1.

RCAHMS 2014 Canmore: Isle of Aaran Measured Mile Markers. Retrieved 3 July 2014 from: http://canmoremapping.rcahms.gov.uk/index.php?action=do_advanced&list_z=0&sitename=&classterm1=MEASURED+MILE+MARKER+&sitediscipline=&idnumlink=&mapno=&site=&councilcode=&parish=&regioncode=&districtcode=&countycode=&ngr=&radiusm=0&collectionname=&bibliosurname=&biblioinits=&bibliotitle=&bibliodate=&bibliojournal=&submit=search.

The Clyde Built Ships 2014 Leven Lass. Electronic document. Retrieved 23 May 2014 from: http://www.clydeships.co.uk/view.php?ref=14432.

Wilson, Dennis D. 2012 The Investigation of Unidentified Wreck 784, Phillip Island, Victoria: Applying Cultural Landscape Theory and Hierarchy of Time to the Assessment of Shipwreck Significance. Unpublished Masters thesis, DEPT Flinders University, Adelaide.

White, Tony 2003 Polperro Cornish gem: Nautical Measured Mile Markers. Retrieved 3 July 2014 from: http://www.polperro.org/measuredmile.html.

The Multiple Benefits of a Directed Study in Maritime Archaeology

By: Chelsea Colwell-Pasch

I have now completed my semester long directed study topic at Flinders University, with only the final draft of my field work report for the industry partner involved, Heritage Victoria, remaining. It is the perfect time to reflect upon the semester and the benefits of partaking in a directed study topic. For the purposes of my research it was in maritime archaeology, but I imagine that any directed study would carry the same benefits and this blog could be taken synonymously.

This has been a hard topic. I know that this blog, the last in my required blog posts for this topic, is supposed to be about the benefits of a directed study but I feel that it would be amiss if I didn’t let you, the reader, know that it was a very taxing endeavour. You spend a lot of time thinking about it, working on it, doubting yourself, having the pressure of a professional or industry partner being involved, and the scariest of all, relying on yourself to do what needs to be done. I do not want people to get the wrong idea: it was hard, yes, but in the best possible ways. 

Even now as I write this I am thinking about the quality of my writing and whether or not I will meet the standards required for a professional maritime archaeology field work report. I have read through multiple field reports by various government and commercial maritime archaeology firms and have created what can only be described as a ‘Frankenstein-esque’ version of a report, with the pieces I could use cut and sewn together, because no field report is alike. Sections included in one may not be relevant in another and vice versa. The end product is very specific and a very large report covering every possible aspect that I or others could conceive. This has been a great exercise in understanding what maritime archaeologists actually do as a job. By understanding at least one end product of their work, I can better understand how to conduct myself in the field to make the task of report writing easier.

Another beneficial outcome of this project is acknowledging your personal work ethic and drive. I am not being paid to write this report, on the contrary I am paying a substantial international post-graduate course fee to write it. That being said, I treated it as a job, as if it was my duty to write this report to the highest standard and not let my industry partner or professors down. Pressure to succeed is a good stressor (to a certain degree), and it will be a part of any career you choose so to understand how you handle it in a safe, academic environment is very nice.

For this entire semester, I was the ‘captain’ of my professional report writing ‘voyage’. I ‘steered’ the way the report was going by choosing what to include and how to include it. The best part of being enrolled in a course is that my ‘safety beacon’ if you will (apologies for the nautical puns…occupational hazard) was the very knowledgeable university staff who were there to answer any and all questions and guide me to ‘safe harbour’ when rough water was met (I will stop with the puns now, I promise). This is a luxury that is not afforded in the real world.

I will end my last directed studies blog with the best part of enrolling in this topic: experience. I will, once everything is completed, have a professional report under my belt. I will not be intimidated by report writing once I am in the professional realm. I can show future employers, colleagues and, most importantly, myself that I CAN do this. The only real issue I have about this topic is that I am not able to take part in another one.

Leven Lass: An Origin Story

By: Chelsea Colwell-Pasch

As I near the end of my directed study in maritime archaeology, I wanted to take the time to discuss one of the main facets of my final report: Leven Lass. I have had the opportunity thoroughly to research the background of Leven Lass, not only for my directed study, but also as part of my masters thesis. For my thesis, I am producing a multiphasic vessel biography on Leven Lass utilising Wessex Archaeology’s BULSI (Build, Use, Loss, Survival, and Investigation) system. I plan on evaluating the system for its utility in shipwreck studies and place Leven Lass in a broader context of nineteenth century seafaring in Australia.

Leven Lass was chosen as my thesis topic after the 2014 Maritime Archaeology Field School conducted at Phillip Island, Victoria this past January. The field school was centred on a wreck that was determined to be Leven Lass by a previous Flinders masters student who worked on the wreck during the 2012 Maritime Archaeology Field School (Wilson 2012). While the focus of that thesis was more on maritime cultural landscapes, my thesis is looking at the vessel’s life cycle or career, from design inception to shipwreck investigation, and its broader implications for shipwreck studies, significance assessments and post-colonial Australian seafaring.

Leven Lass was built in Dumbarton, Scotland, at Denny’s Shipyard (see Figure 1 below), yard number two, in 1839 (The Clyde Built Ships 2014). Leven Lass was sold in Glasgow, Scotland, on 16 September 1852 by Paton and Grant and sailed from Scotland to Australia (Melbourne) on 1 October 1852 by Captain Sholto Gardener Jamieson (1818-1882), arriving in 1853 (Glasgow Herald 17 September 1852:8; Lythgoe 2014; Wilson 2012). The brig Leven Lass spent time as a post carrier between Adelaide, Melbourne, Hobart and Sydney and was considered “a remarkably fast sailer” (Glasgow Herald 17 September 1852:8). A brig was a two-masted sailing ship with square rigging on both masts and was commonly used as couriers on coastal routes (Encyclopaedia Britannica Online 2014). 

Image

 

Figure 1. A model rendition of Denny’s shipyard in 1908 at Dumbarton, Scotland (Royal Museums Greenwich 2014).

Leven Lass is going to be thoroughly researched by the end of 2014 to say the least. The field report being constructed for Heritage Victoria during this directed study is not going to be as detailed as my proposed thesis but more of a synopsis of field work conducted and a discussion of the results and interpretation of the data collected during both the 2012 and 2014 field schools.

References

Encyclopaedia Britannica Online 2014 “Brig”. Retrieved 3 June 2014 from: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/79477/brig.

Glasgow Herald 1852 “At Glasgow – For Melbourne, Port-Phillip”. 17 September: 8.

Lythgoe, Darrin 2014 Shetland Family History. Retrieved 23 May 2014 from: http://www.bayanne.info/Shetland/getperson.php? personID=I11228&tree=ID1.

Royal Museums Greenwich 2014 Denny’s Shipyard. Retrieved 23 May 2014 from: http://prints.rmg.co.uk/art/510730/Topographic_model_Dennys_shipyard_Dumbarton.

The Clyde Built Ships 2014 Leven Lass. Electronic document. Retrieved 23 May 2014 from: http://www.clydeships.co.uk/view.php?ref=14432,

Wilson, Dennis D. 2012 The Investigation of Unidentified Wreck 784, Phillip Island, Victoria: Applying Cultural Landscape Theory and Hierarchy of Time to the Assessment of Shipwreck Significance. Unpublished Masters thesis, DEPT Flinders University, Adelaide.

 

 

Maritime archaeologist, you say? You just strap on a tank and mask don’t you?

Introduction

When I asked my mum and dad to picture a maritime archaeologist, they immediately described a diver fluttering about underwater searching for lost relics on the seafloor (Figure 1). To those in the know, the archaeologist/diver would resemble something quite different; an individual meticulously excavating and recording a submerged archaeological site. But can the definition of a maritime archaeologist be as simple as a diver that straps a tank (or two) to their back?  Before any work underwater is carried out, the type of diving apparatus that will be used must be taken into consideration. Without the diving component archaeology cannot be conducted underwater. I will discuss the different types of diving equipment necessary to carry out a pre-disturbance survey and excavation in an occupational setting, but will limit the topic to standard compressed air diving. Other diving classifications such as NITROX and mixed-gas diving can be used, but are limited to trained professionals and the offshore oil and gas industry. The most common type of diving in maritime archaeology is compressed air diving.

Figure 1. A SCUBA diver fluttering about underwater (author)

Figure 1. A SCUBA diver fluttering about underwater (author)

Diving apparatus: SCUBA & SSBA

What is the difference between SCUBA (Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) and SSBA (Surface Supply Breathing Apparatus)? Apart from both acronyms containing the words ‘Breathing Apparatus’, the difference lies with the first two words, ‘Self Contained’ and ‘Surface Supply’. SCUBA is a self-contained unit in which the diver relies on a tank to deliver compressed air through a mouthpiece (Figure 2). Commercially developed in the 1950s by Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Emile Gagnan, SCUBA allowed people to explore the underwater world and by doing so, paved the way for maritime archaeology to develop into the discipline it is today (Green 1994: 2–4; Hosty and Stuart 2001: 5; Muckelroy 1978: 10–22).

Figure 2. Left, A maritime archaeologist using SCUBA; Right, SSBA diver entering the water. Notice attached air hose (Images courtesy of Donald A. Frey, Tufan Turanli, and Maddy Fowler)

Figure 2. Left, A maritime archaeologist using SCUBA; Right, SSBA diver entering the water. Notice attached air hose (Images courtesy of Donald A. Frey, Tufan Turanli, and Maddy Fowler)

SSBA is also a compressed air system, but exhibits slightly different features (Figure 2). The diver receives air from the surface from either a bank of compressed air tanks or an air compressor. The air is usually breathed through an AGA mask, band mask, or hard hat (Figure 3). A hard hat is a solid, one-piece helmet, usually associated with underwater construction. It provides head protection for the diver from falling debris. A band mask is made up of a solid face plate similar to the hard hat, but has a soft neoprene hood. An AGA mask is a full face mask secured to the diver’s head with a series of straps. SSBA can trace its origins back to early 19th century hard hat diving, and was an essential element of what is regarded as the first maritime archaeology survey—an investigation of crannogs in Loch Ness, Scotland in 1908 (Muckelroy 1978: 10, 12).

Different diving masks

Figure 3. Left Diver wearing a Gorski hard hat; Centre A band mask with soft neoprene hood; Right Diver wearing an Aga mask (Images courtesy of Rhiannon Phillips, Submarine Manufacturing and Products, and Maddy Fowler)

Which diving apparatus for what underwater method?

Different diving equipment will have advantages and disadvantages, depending on the type and extent of tasks that need to be performed. From my experience, SCUBA provides the freedom to cover a large area, as would be needed to conduct a pre-disturbance survey. The objective of a pre-disturbance survey is to survey and record a site as it appears on the seabed (Green 2004: 88; Tripathi 2005: 6). For more information on pre-disturbance survey methods see Lauren Davison’s blog post.

A diver with a ‘Self Contained’ breathing unit is free to travel as far as they want, subject to certain physiological and environmental restrictions. These include the strength of currents and amount of compressed air available. SSBA, by contrast, is restricted by the length of the equipment’s umbilical (which contains the air hose, communications link, etc.). Planning helps, but it is difficult to know how much umbilical is needed when the extent of the site is unknown. Other considerations for occupational diving include:

  • Environmental conditions (visibility, entrapment, water temperature, underwater terrain)
  • Hyperbaric/physiological (depth, frequency, duration, prior fitness)
  • Associated activity (manual handling, boat handling, dive platforms)
  • Other (dangerous marine animals, shipping movements)

Unfortunately, not all forms of diving equipment are affordable and/or available. In instances where only SCUBA equipment is available, the archaeology fieldwork plan will need to be adjusted to correspond to SCUBA’s limitations. Some of these limitations include the number of divers needed to conduct fieldwork, dive duration, and surface intervals between dives.

SSBA is used if the equipment is available and/or required under Australia’s Occupational Diving Standard (AS/NZS2299.1). This standard requires the use of SSBA when a dive project includes the use of surface machinery that is not under direct control of one or more divers, such as the water dredge or airlift. Both the water dredge and airlift are designed to remove spoil from the area of excavation and deposit it away from the site. Both have their advantages and disadvantages; for a discussion of this topic see Green (2004), and for more details about underwater excavation methods see Marc Brown’s blog post.

Maritime archaeology projects within Australia that involve commercial interests and the use of equipment such as dredges must utilise SSBA (Figure 4). Maritime archaeologists must hold an accreditation with the Australian Diver Accreditation Scheme (ADAS) to dive using SSBA. SSBA must also be used where participating divers undergo physical exertion. Projects reliant on SSBA must consider such factors as the use of a compressor, length of SSBA umbilicals, available bottom time, and the need for fuel and qualified personnel (a team of five is required for a two person SSBA dive team).

During each diving day both SSBA and SCUBA equipment must be set up, broken down, and tested on a daily basis. The equipment must also be maintained, usually on an annual basis. This is costly in terms of time and money, particularly for projects that are operating on a tight schedule and budget. Ultimately, both SCUBA and SSBA enable maritime archaeologists to undertake any underwater task, provided it meets occupational standards.

Figure 4. ADAS Part 2 divers excavating with a dredge (Image courtesy of Andy Viduka).

Figure 4. ADAS Part 2 divers excavating with a dredge (Image courtesy of Andy Viduka)

Conclusion

Before commencing archaeological investigations underwater, it is important to consider the apparatus best suited for the job and whether it complies with occupational standards. Because every site is different, dive equipment and planning will undoubtedly vary. Limited access to diving equipment may force a project to work with what is available and plan diving operations accordingly. With these factors in mind, the question remains: is a maritime archaeologist simply a mask and a tank? The answer is no, as there is a lot more to conducting maritime archaeology than just fluttering about underwater.

References

Akal, Tuncay

2008      Surveillance and Protection of Underwater Archaeological Sites: Sea Guard. Protecting Underwater Archaeology, Press Room. Electronic document, http://www.acoustics.org/press/155th/akal.htm, accessed 15 October 2013.

Green, Jeremy

2004      Maritime Archaeology: A Technical Handbook, Second Edition. Elsevier Academic Press, USA.

Hosty, Kieran and Iain Stuart

1994      Maritime Archaeology over the last twenty years. In Maritime Archaeology in Australia: A Reader, edited by Mark Staniforth and Michael Hyde, pp.5-12. Southern Archaeology, South Australia.

Muckelroy, Keith

1978      Maritime Archaeology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Submarine Manufacturing and Products

Kirby Morgan 18B Band Mask. Electronic document, http://www.smp-ltd.co.uk/product/productid/193/productname/Kirby-Morgan-18B-Band-Masks/, accessed 3 October 2013.

Tripathi, Alok

2005      Marine Archaeology (Recent Advances). Agam Kala Prakashan, India.

Romance, scandal and maritime archaeology in Victoria

During my directed study, I’ve been researching 18 shipwrecks lying in Victorian state waters. I’ve researched the history of shipwreck significance, worked out how shipwreck significance is assessed and begun the process of assessing significance for some of those wrecks.

Some shipwrecks have turned out to be significant because of the events surrounding their working lives, some because of the results of the studies of archaeologists examining their wrecks. Either way the waters of Port Phillip and the surrounding Victorian coastline shelter some very interesting shipwrecks.

Here’s just a taste:

Loch Ard is one of the most famous shipwrecks in Victoria. A three-masted square-rigged iron sailing ship, Loch Ard left England on 2 March 1878 with a general cargo of luxury items and industrial loads of railway iron and cement. On 1 June, the ship was only a day or two out from Melbourne near Cape Otway when heavy fog descended.

Loch Ard. Image courtesy Heritage Victoria

Loch Ard. Image courtesy Heritage Victoria

When the fog lifted, the Captain, instead of clear ocean and a distant shoreline, was faced with sheer cliffs and breaking waves. I can’t even begin to imagine what that felt like. The ship hit the reef just off Mutton Bird Island and large waves caused the masts and rigging to crash down so the lifeboats couldn’t be launched successfully. Tom Pearce, one of the crew, and passenger Eva Carmichael were the only two on board who survived (Lomdahl 1992).

Just five bodies (out of 47) were ever recovered. Eva lost all her immediate family and would have died herself if Tom Pearce hadn’t come to her rescue. If life were a Hollywood movie, Eva and Tom, both eighteen, would have sailed happily off into the sunset. Society of the day certainly thought they should at least get married since they had spent time alone, drinking brandy before Tom went to find help (ignoring the fact it was dark, cold and Tom needed to catch his breath before attempting to climb the cliffs). But it wasn’t Hollywood and instead Eva went back to Ireland and married a Captain Townsend while Tom went back to the sea. Ironically, Eva and her husband moved to the Irish coast where she was called on to help shipwreck survivors … one of whom (apparently) turned out to be Tom Pearce (The Argus 16 June 1934). This is a Hollywood script just crying out to be written.

The Loch Ard Peacock. Image courtesy Victorian Collections.

Image courtesy Victorian Collections.

A few days after the wreck, a crate containing a large ceramic peacock was washed ashore in Loch Ard Gorge. The Minton Loch Ard Peacock is one of the more famous pieces of cargo saved from the wreck. The porcelain statue, valued at over $4 million, is one of only nine still existing worldwide and was arriving in Australia to be displayed at the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition. It finally got its chance to shine at the 1988 Brisbane World Expo. The peacock is currently on display at the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum in Warnambool, Victoria.

Then there’s Clarence, a small coastal wooden sailing ship, indistinguishable from many vessels plying their trade around the southern coast of Australia during the 1840s and 1850s. Clarence sailing past would have been a bit like watching a semi-trailer driving down the highway. You might idly wonder what it was carrying before it disappeared from view; then again you might not. However, Clarence’s brief and unglamorous career as a small trading schooner belies its subsequent importance to archaeological and historical studies of undocumented Australian shipbuilding (Harvey 1989).

Clarence line drawing. Image courtesy Heritage Victoria

Clarence line drawing. Image courtesy Heritage Victoria

I’m sure Clarence’s builders from the Williams River in NSW never imagined their work would be so scrutinised. Remember people, whatever you build today may be examined in 200 years by an archaeologist trying to piece together your work … make sure it’s good (or if you want to have some fun, make it cryptic)!

Clarence is currently the subject of an Australian Research Council grant studying the excavation, reburial and in-situ preservation of shipwrecks and their artefacts. I was fortunate enough to be a volunteer when, in 2012, Clarence was excavated, wrapped in geo-textile, covered in shade cloth and tarpaulin and weighed down by 3,500 sandbags. As a result, Clarence may still be there for archaeologists to study in 1000 years time and I can now add ‘professional sandbag filler’ to my resumé.

A small section of Clarence reburial .... Image Jon Carpenter

A small section of Clarence reburial …. Image Jon Carpenter

One vessel not often in the public eye is the clipper ship, Schomberg. Schomberg had no statement of significance in the Victorian database and when I started researching I had no idea what I’d discover. What I did find was a tale of pride, scandal and narrowly avoided tragedy. Schomberg’s story was almost the nineteenth century’s version of Titanic: built at great expense, labeled the most perfect clipper ship ever built, designed to be the most comfortable, luxurious and fastest vessel to sail to Melbourne—and it sank on its maiden voyage in 1855. Fortunately, the steamer SS Queen was close enough to come to the rescue of the 430 passengers and crew.

Captain 'Bully' Forbes. Image courtesty Project Marco Polo

Captain ‘Bully’ Forbes. Image courtesty Project Marco Polo

The Captain, ‘Bully’ Forbes, was charged in the Supreme Court with negligence because of the suspicion that he was playing cards with two female passengers below decks while his ship ran aground. None of the passengers spoke terribly highly of him, complaining that he strutted the deck with a loaded revolver and that half-naked women were emerging from his cabin at all hours of the night. Despite a protest meeting, two inquiries and the court proceedings, he was found not guilty and cleared of all charges on the grounds of insufficient evidence (Uhl 1985:24).

As an aside, Schomberg was built using the ‘diagonal principle’: its frame was British oak with layers of Scottish larch fitted diagonally to the frames, apparently the same design as Queen Victoria’s newly acquired yacht. Interestingly, pieces of hull with this distinctive design feature were washed up on the New Zealand coast and were thought to be a part of Schomberg‘s hull (Lomdahl 1992).

The clipper ship, Schomberg. Photo Heritage Victoria

The clipper ship, Schomberg. Image courtesy Heritage Victoria.

This is just a brief journey through three Victorian shipwreck histories that grabbed my attention, there is more to tell for each but space is brief. While it takes more than just romance, scandal and maritime archaeology to make a vessel significant, each adds to the fabric of the story that makes up the life and wreck of a ship.

References

Harvey, P. 1989 Excavation of the Shipwreck Clarence: Port Phillip Bay October 1987. Victoria: Victoria Archaeology Survey, Maritime Heritage Unit.

Lomdahl, A., 1992 Underwater Shipwreck Discovery Trail. Victoria: Victoria Archaeological Survey, Maritime Archaeological Unit.

Mosely, M. 1934 ‘Eva Carmichael and Tom Pearce. Why they did not marry.’ The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.:1848-1957), 16 June, p. 4, retrieved 13 October 2013, http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/10947161

Uhl, J. 1985 Sailing Ships, Shipwrecks and Crime in the 19th Century: A Handbook for Historians, Genealogists, Shiplovers and Criminologists based on Supreme Court Records, Criminal Sessions 1840s-1860s. Oakleigh, Victoria: Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies.

Deep-water Technology: The Future of Maritime Archaeology

While maritime archaeology is a rather new discipline compared to terrestrial archaeology, deep-water archaeology (greater than 100 metres) is so recent that it is still largely in its infancy.  This is due to the extreme conditions of the deep ocean and lack of technology necessary to reach such depths.  In addition, there is the prohibitive cost of deep-water exploration.  Expeditions that use ocean-class research vessels can cost $40,000 USD or $44,697 AUD per day and easily exceed $1 million over a month-long period (Ballard 2008:x).  However, multi-disciplinary projects that foster cooperation with oceanographers, biologists, and engineers can reduce the cost of research and allow each scientist to collect much needed data.  Continuous advancements in the technology of human-operated vehicles (HOVs), remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) are allowing maritime archaeologists to reach greater depths and explore hidden cultural clues in this largely unexplored world.

Techniques commonly used by maritime archaeologists for shallow-water surveys, such as side-scan sonar, magnetometers, and sub-bottom profilers, are being applied to HOVs, ROVs and AUVs to explore the depths of the ocean.  Side-scan sonar emits sound waves that strike the sea floor and creates imagery by recording the timing and amplitude of those sound wave reflections.  Magnetometers are used to locate man-made objects by detecting anomalies in the normal magnitude and direction of the earth’s magnetic field.  Sub-bottom profilers are similar to side-scan sonar in that they emit sound waves towards the sea floor; however, the sub-bottom profiler’s sound waves penetrate the sea floor in order to identify different layers of sediment (Ballard 2008:263-274).  By utilising these devices in conjunction with HOVs, ROVs and AUVs, archaeologists are able to map and survey depths greater than 100 metres.

Human-Operated Vehicles

HOVs are also known as human-operated submersibles or simply submersibles.  Many submersibles are limited in their ability to survey large areas.  This is due to their reliance on a human occupant/operator, which limits the amount of time they can stay on site.  Although HOVs are limited by time, they provide an advantage over ROVs and AUVs because they can “typically lift heavier objects and carry more equipment and/or samples” (Ballard and Coleman 2008:12).  An excellent example of an HOV is Alvin, a U.S. Navy-owned Deep Submergence Vehicle built in 1964.  It is able to dive to a depth of 4,500 metres and remain below the surface for up to  10 hours (WHOI 2013).  Alvin is outfitted with video cameras, lights, and two robotic arms that allow the vessel to carry 680 kilograms of samples.  Alvin is perhaps best known for its involvement in the exploration of RMS Titanic in 1986 (WHOI 2013).

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Figure 1: Human Occupied Vehicle Alvin (Photo by Mark Spear, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution 2013)

Remotely Operated Vehicles

ROVs are similar to HOVs except that instead of having an occupant inside the vehicle, the ROV is controlled from a support vessel on the surface.  ROVs are tethered to the surface vessel by fibre-optic cables and controlled via fibre-optic telemetry (Gregory et al. 2008:17).  These cables allow the operator to control the movement of the ROV as well other functions such as lighting, cameras and manipulator arms.  ROVs are better adapted for surveying larger areas than HOVs, but are still limited by the cables that attach them to the support vessel.  ROVs are sometimes used in tandem with a towsled that is positioned between the support vessel and ROV.  The benefit of using a towsled is that it absorbs the movement of the support vessel and prevailing sea conditions, which allows the ROV to work undisturbed.  The towsled often sits above the sea floor and provides additional lighting to reduce backscatter from particles in the water when images are being taken.  Besides surveying, ROVs can be used to excavate artefacts from the sea floor.  One example of this type of vehicle is the ROV Hercules and its towsled ArgusHercules is equipped with digital cameras and sonar for site mapping, as well as tube corers to extract samples of sediment in preparation for excavation (Webster 2008:45).  The ROV also features jets that provide a flow of water to clear sediment from artefacts, as well as a suction hose to lift material (Webster 2008:53).  In addition to this useful tool, Hercules’ manipulator arms can be fitted with various hand tools such as brushes and scrapers (Webster 2008:56).

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Figure 2:  ROV Hercules viewed from towsled Argus (NOAA 2013)

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Figure 3: Towsled Argus being lowered into the water (NOAA 2013)

Autonomous Underwater Vehicles
AUVs differ from the two previously mentioned vehicles in that they are not controlled by an operator but rather programmed to survey a certain area.  In addition to not requiring an operator, the major advantages of AUVs over HOVs and ROVs is that they can be deployed and left to survey large areas for between 24 and 72 hours without the need for a support vessel.  This saves thousands of dollars in operating costs (Bingham et al. 2010:703).  While AUVs tend to be used more for commercial purposes, such as surveys for natural resources, their role in archaeology is significant and growing.  AUVs have precise on-board navigation systems that make use of global positioning system (GPS) and differential global positioning system (DGPS) that link to the support vessel.  The exact position (3-5 metre accuracy) of the AUV is essential to mapping and surveying the sea floor (Warren et al. 2007:4).  Many AUVs carry chemical sensors for testing the environment in addition to multibeam sonar (similar to side-scan sonar), a sub-bottom profiler, and magnetometer.  AUVs are limited by the power supply needed to both run the vehicle and maintain its illumination lamps (Bingham et al. 2010:703).  Despite their limitations, AUVs are ideal for conducting general surveys and producing photomosaics of the sea floor with limited detail.  A great example of AUV application within deep-water archaeology is the SeaBED model used to document the Chios shipwreck site in the northeastern Aegean Sea (Bingham et al. 2010:702-715).

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Figure 4: Model of SeaBED AUV being deployed (Bingham et al. 2010:705)

The future of maritime archaeology is continually evolving as technological advances in various underwater vehicles allow for the ocean to be explored and mapped at greater depths.  Multi-disciplinary cooperation has facilitated archeologists’ access to these forms of technology and increased the amount of data they can collect.  This in turn has enabled the discovery and documentation of ancient shipwrecks and landscapes previously unknown to modern archaeology.

References

Ballard, R. and D.Coleman

2008 Oceanographic Methods for Under Archaeological Surveys. Archaeological  Oceanography, edited by Robert Ballard, pp. 3-14. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.

Ballard, R.

2008 Glossary. Archaeological Oceanography, edited by Robert D. Ballard, pp. 263-274. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.

Ballard, R.

2008 Introduction. Archaeological Oceanography, edited by Robert Ballard, pp. ix – x. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.

Bingham, B., B. Foley, H. Singh, R. Camilli, K. Delaporta, R. Eustice, A. Mallios, D. Mindell, C. Roman, and D. Sakellariou

2010 Robotic tools for deep water archaeology: Surveying an ancient shipwreck with an autonomous underwater vehicle. Journal of Field Robotics 27(6): 702-717.

Gregory, T., J. Newman, and J. Howland

2008 The Development of Towed Optical and Acoustical Vehicle Systems and Remotely Operated Vehicles in Support of Archaeological Oceanography. Archaeological Oceanography, edited by Robert Ballard, pp. 15-29.  Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

2013 Hercules (ROV) and Friends, Electronic document, http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/technology/subs/hercules/hercules.html, accessed 10/9/13.

Warren, D., R. Church, and K. Eslinger

2007 Deepwater Archaeology with Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Technology. In Offshore Technology Conference. Houston Texas Electronic Document, e-book.lib.sjtu.edu.cn/otc-2007/pdfs/otc18841.pdf, accessed 10/9/13

Webster, S.

2008 The Development of Excavation Technology for Remotely Operated Vehicles. Archaeological Oceanography, edited by Robert Ballard, pp. 41-64 Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

2013 Human Occupied Vehicle Alvin. Electronic document, http://www.whoi.edu/alvin/, accessed 9/9/13.