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Anyar's Travels

Wherever I go, you may come along.

Gnalić: 1583 -2014 AD
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17.7.2014

Immer noch Netzzugang! Dann schnell ein paar fangfrische Neuigkeiten:

Immer noch schlechte Sicht. Unser Fotograf "Fabe“ erzählt, das Team sei mittlerweile fast sicher, dass sie mondabhängig sei: bei abnehmendem Mond wird die Sicht schlechter, bei zunehmendem besser, und die Veränderung ist relativ plötzlich bei Mondphasenwechsel. Ob es an den Strömungen liegt? An Algenblüte?

Jedenfalls sind für morgen Aufnahmen für Photogrammetrie geplant, und so säubern wir heute die Fläche und räumen auf: Kartoffelsäcke mit Kieseln (die nicht von hier stammen können und also vermutlich Ballast sind) und mit Blei- und Bleiweißkegeln wegtragen - nachdem man sich vorher vergewissert hat, dass sie ein Kärtchen mit ihrem Quadranten tragen!!! Das Gerüst abbauen, das die Quadranten einteilt und den Tauchern Halt gibt, die nicht mit den Füßen nach oben über der Fläche hängend arbeiten. Die Einmachgläsern einsammeln, in die wir sonst Glasperlen und Quecksilber einsammeln.

Letzteres entstammt wahrscheinlich den vielen zerbrochenen Spiegeln an Bord und ist einer der Gründe dafür, dass wir nur mit Handschuhen tauchen. Im Wasser verhält es sich einigermaßen friedlich, bleibt flüssig und zieht sich zu kleinen Tropfen zusammen. Weil es so schwer ist, lässt es sich bei einiger Übung mit dem Saugrohr einfangen, zu einer kleinen Pfütze sammeln und dann per Spritze ins Glas bringen (ein Trick, den ich heute von Pavle lernte, unserem stellvertretenden Grabungsleiter).

Neben Quecksilber und Bleiweiß sind im Wrack noch Schwefelreste zu finden, von denen wir seit diesem Jahr wissen, dass sie auch Arsen enthalten – es ist ein richtiger Chemieunfall.

Aus dem Zentrum von Murter tönt bedauerlich enthusiastische Musik, aber der Abend ist zu schwül, um die Fenster zu schließen. Ist nun annähernd rhythmischer Lärm schlimmer, oder stickige Luft des Nachts? Immerhin gibt es Mückengitter; das ist schon mal ein Übel weniger.

Gute Nacht!


Zurück zur Gnalić: 1583 AD - 2014 AD
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14.7.2014

Der deutsche Teil des Teams ist am Samstag nach langer Fahrt hier eingetroffen, hat sich häuslich eingerichtet (Ferienappartements! Richtige Betten! Duschen für maximal zwei Leute, eine fast eingerichtete und nur seit wenigen Jahren unbenutzte Küche! Es ist der reine Luxus.) und dann den Sonntag damit verbracht, das letztes Jahr bestellte und nun angemietete Boot zu säubern und nutzbar zu machen und den Kompressor zu holen, der ein paar Inseln weiter (schon wieder eine lange Fahrt, aber immerhin nicht bis in die Nacht) bei einer Tauchschule untersteht. Der Leiter ist der Partner einer Teamarchäologin...

Heute ist also der erste Tauchtag für das deutsche und einen Teil des kroatischen Teams, und wir können uns bei einem Rundgang unter Wasser, vor allem aber im Abtauchen ein Bild der Fläche machen. Wir haben sie ein Jahr lang nicht gesehen; da ist es immer spannend und ein wenig von Besorgnis angehaucht: hat das Geotextil die Würmer ferngehalten? Haben sich neugierige Touristen/gierige Schatztaucher irgendwo eingewühlt und Schaden angerichtet?

Es ist aber alles gut erhalten, und das kroatisch-amerikanische Team hat bereits eine Menge Arbeit geleistet: die schützenden Sandsäcke sind entfernt, das Geotextil gesäubert und zurückgeschlagen, Quadranten sind sauber ausgezeichnet und Arbeitsmaterial ist auch schon unten. Morgen kann es losgehen!

Wenn wir überhaupt bis zur Insel kommen, heißt das: der Motor des offenbar ebenfalls lange (also wohl seit letztem Jahr) nicht benutzten Schiffes speit fürchterlichen schwarzen Rauch und macht ganz offenbar, warum Erkennen von Kohlenmonoxidvergiftung Teil der Forschungstaucherausbildung war.

Ob es wohl morgen losgehen kann?

15.7.2014

Der Kapitän hat ein wenig an seinem Bootsmotor gewerkelt. Es raucht jetzt nicht mehr ganz so schrecklich, aber immer noch genug, um einen Aufenthalt im Bugbereich geraten scheinen zu lassen und die tiefer gelegenen Bereiche des Wasserfahrzeugs zu meiden. Vielleicht legt sich ja der hohe, durchdringende Dauerton noch, den der Motor von sich gibt.

Immerhin kommen wir an, das gestrige Gewitter hat sich nicht wiederholt, und wir gehen frohen Mutes an die Ausgrabung. Mittlerweile sind jede Menge recht lose liegender Hölzer im östlichen Bereich zu finden – sie müssen geborgen werden, bevor sie, durch einen unbedachten Flossenschlag bewegt, über die Fläche schwimmen. Um dieser Möglichkeit vorzubeugen, werden die Flossen am Rand des Grabunsrahmens ausgezogen und wir bewegen uns schwebenden Schrittes gleich Astronauten auf dem Mond über den Meeresboden. Es ist wirklich ein wenig wie die Erforschung eines anderen Planeten!

16.7.2014

Noch immer kein Netzzugang, also weiter Bericht in Vorratshaltung. Mit großer Erleichterung habe ich festgestellt, dass meine Ohren tapfer bleiben. Gestern hatte ich schon befürchtet, dass der einsetzende Druck eine Entzündung ankündigen würde, aber Ohrentropfen oder Ruhe oder langsameres Abtauchen oder alles zusammen haben sie durchhalten lassen.

Die Sicht war schlecht heute. Bei ca. 20m wird das Wasser kälter, und die Schlieren der Inversionsschicht, die allgemeine Trübung des recht warmen Wassers (auf 25m Tiefe immer noch 23°C) und das weiche, leichte Sediment der archäologischen Schicht, das die Saugrohre hinter sich speien, hat die Sicht auf der Fläche auf sechs Meter sinken lassen. In der Ostsee wären das immer noch perfekte Bedingungen, aber hier, wo wir gewohnt sind, die ganze Fläche im Blick zu haben und sogar vom Boot aus erkennen zu können - hier sind wir vor allem mit den kleinen Algen unglücklich, die sich auf alle Funde setzen und die Farben ununterschiedbar machen. Vor den Aufnahmen für die Photogrammetrie werden wir die Fläche noch einmal säubern müssen.


Dig diary Zakynthos - finale.
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25.9.2012

The last airlift sessions for this season are giving us a harvest of hazelnuts, enough for the Feast of St. Nicholas. DSCN5263
The things they have told us about the benefits of education!
Oh Cinderella, you've chosen the better part - you got a prince, and here's me still sitting in the dirt with only a wealth of... hazelnuts!
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The work gets even dirtier, though: It's time to bring up the geotextile, check its condition, measure it and decide upon new arrangements for the next set. What size do the pieces need to be? How best to fit them over the newly-exposed part of the site? It's a very big jigsaw puzzle.

A puzzle with a terrible stink. too. Responsible for it are bacteria which have settled in the anaerobic conditions created by the geotextile. It's good news for the conservationists: Accumulating sediment has weighed down the geotextile and protected the wood. No current to bring in fresh water has meant no erosion over the past ten years, and uninviting conditions for the ship worm. The geotextile was of a new type and the whole thing a trial run. What we are getting here now is the scent of success!

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27.9.2012

The last day of work on the site! They will be covering up the whole thing, and a few odds and ends will need clearing away, but the project work itself is over after today. The last pictures are being taken, and the project architect is doing his last session of drawings.

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You can see the hull from shipside, all clean and neatly tagged for photographers, illustrators and archaeologists.

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My very last day on the project! Here is all this enticing archaeology, and I'm stuck above water!

Seven days since my trip to the doctor. "Stay a week out of the water", he had said. There's nothing I can usefully do down there now, but how I hate to miss it! Confound all colds! And all my gear is on shore already, drying in the hotel for the journey. Oh, but to just take a short look at the site now! Who knows when there'll be funding again to open it? In these cost-cutting days, you never can tell.

The dive director takes pity on me in the end. Another team member who has missed out on a number of dives is equally desperate for a glimpse - two make a team. My lovely colleagues are lending me gear - a mask from one, fins from the other, a wetsuit from the third. Kostas takes us for a short "tourist"dive, and it's exhilarating.

See for yourself:

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Tomorrow, my gear will all be packed and myself heading towards Athens. Along the Isthmus of Corinth. It's breathtaking just to think of it! For today, though, I am grateful for the chance to enjoy a good view of the site, and for the many friendly partings. We'll work together again, God willing!

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For all readers, I hope you have enjoyed this trip under water. If you'd like to get more info about underwater archaeology, well, you know where to find me.

Thank you for reading and, perhaps, even commenting! :-)

As a parting gift to all with a modicum of historical understanding, I am pointing you towards this article of the New York Times - they've changed the title since, but that the mistake was made int he first place should be thoroughly embarrassing :

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/11/science/even-in-a-museum-elements-eat-at-viking-ship-vasa.html?_r=1



Dig diary Zakynthos - the end?
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20.9.2012

Against all hopes, there is still a faint pain in my ear, and much as I would like to ignore it, caution puts its foot down: I'm going to the doctor. A short enquiry among my team mates should give me an address without raising too much attention, but earlier experience should also have taught me better.

At least half the team commiserates, explains, gives advice (with "better safe than sorry" taking a prominent place among repeated remarks) and recommendations on the topic of doctors. You cannot be sure to get a good one, you see. Better to ask a local. There is one in the centre of town where Pavlos went the other day with ear trouble, and that doctor seems to have done a decent job. He might take extra charges, though, without a receipt. It's like that these days. Don't you want to go to the hospital, though? It really might be better to go to the hospital. I know the director personally; let me phone him and ask if there is a good specialist. - Yes, the director can recommend him. Just go to A&E and they will show you through. - Only the hospital is such a long way off, and no-one will be available to drive you today. Everyone's going on the boat. If they don't have ear pains. Perhaps it's better to go to the doctor in town, after all. The insurance might refund the fees. - What if he doesn't speak English? - Ah, sure he will speak English. Sure he will.

Pavlos could come along and show you where it is, and translate. Yes, Pavlos can go.

Except that Pavlos doesn't really have time to go, and after a few minutes of fidgety wait in the reception room, he goes off on business of his own. The mobile number he leaves "just in case" is little consolation, but the doctor does speak English and he does do a good job, and it isn't his fault that I don't like his verdict:

Inflammation of the Eustachian tube. Keep the ear dry. No diving for a week.

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Looks like the project is over for me.

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22.9.2012

I'm out on the boat again; at least that! In their kindness, and slightly overstretched with mounting finds, the conservators have adopted me for sieving, keeping lists and photographing special finds on board.

There are no riches here: concretions and hazelnuts, an occasional ceramic sherd and pieces of wood, wood with peat and peat with stone.

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As peaceful as it is out on the water, not everyone feels like meditating during dive breaks. Many of the team will soon return to their teaching and research jobs or to their universities for studying and are getting restless in the face of inactivity. Some have brought their laptops, others journals or study materials. We are on a very small ship, though, and there is not quiet spot to be had: constantly someone will need to step over your legs, another bumps into you in search of tags and gear, or a shivering diver drips on you as the shifts change.

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The work is progressing nicely, though, and we know we'll be able to keep within our schedule.

23.9.2012

It is a calm, quiet sort of day, with a gentle swell and warm, balmy air. Most of the international team members have gone home, so have those with health problems that can afford to go. Others are staying back, staving off a cold and saving their strength for the all-important photogrammetry next week.

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All of a sudden, a shout of "Caretta caretta" rises, and splish-splash-splosh, three conservationists are in the water before you can do so much as to say "sea turtle". They are circling in the water like benevolent sharks, while all the rest of us are hanging over the railing, hoping to see a flipper at least of those wondrously calm creatures whose main breeding ground in the Eastern Mediterranean is a little to the south of our site on one of the Zakynthian beaches.

Where was it? Here? No, across the site! There!!!

Ah, no, a plastic bag...

After some time devoid of sea turtles, our hopes lag and we return to the task of lifting a sample piece of geotextile. Since the last session on the site in the year 2000, the material has covered the site to protect it from erosion and, ideally, attacks by Teredo navalis, or ship worm. The textile comes up via balloon and is secured to the rear of the boat.

We have been expecting bad weather since yesterday evening. Those team members that were born and raised here or on Kefallonia to the north know that the flat sea in the morning can easily mean storm in the afternoon, and now their friends and relatives in the area are reporting rain and storm over the Peloponnesus, in lee of our site. The wind is picking up and the waves are getting slightly higher, but our work is done and we can drive home at full speed.

Were it not for the skill of tying knots, and its absence in whoever has tied the geotextile to the stern of our boat. During the past few days, we have kept losing things over the side and having to rescue them - a towel, swim shorts, a flip without a flop. Now the balloon is bobbing up and down in our wake, but it's no longer following us.

Oh, NO!!! It must have lost air already, it won't hold the geotextile, it's going to sink, and in the harbour entrance too, and we have no dive time left to bring it up today, and what's going to happen to the tests we need to make? To decide the use of this particular variety of geotextile in these waters for the protection of wooden waterlogged material? Which is a major part of this research project, for which we have received funding or we wouldn't be here?

It's the conservators' day to emulate sea turtles. The project leader is in the water before anyone else has time to react. With a few strokes, she catches up with the balloon and drags it, together with the unwieldy and smelly bundle, along to the end of line we have cast into the water. It's a professional knot she's putting into it, and we reach the harbour side without any more trouble.

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It's the divers' job now to rinse the gear, put it up for drying and unload the boat. I watch them go a little sadly, no longer one of their number, and then trot after the conservators who are unloading their finds boxes into a little store room the harbour police has kindly given them. Everything needs to be labelled, photographed, ordered and listed and packed into transport boxes - all in a tiny room that clearly wasn't meant to be as constantly wet as it gets when underwater finds are being handled.

It's quite clear that the four conservators are an experienced team with a well-developed routine and not enough space, so I'm removing my useless presence and wander off "home", i.e to the hotel.

24.9.2012

The French team came yesterday evening, their arrival preceded by a wave of awed expectation. They are professionals of truly international scale and famous for their high-profile photogrammetry. It's a research focus of their institute, and their participation is another major component of the project plan which has secured our funding. Photogrammetry works like a photomosaic, (that are photos taken side by side with about 1/3 overlapping that are later stitched together on the computer to give a detailed overview of a site), except that the data is converted into a point cloud which makes it possible to measure the pictures in great detail and in three dimensions. It is difficult to get the height, lighting and angles right because unlike on land, there is no firm ground to stand on and mount the camera - the photographer has to glide across the site, with as little movement as possible.

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Our photographer Kostas Katsaros has taken the pictures for photomosaics during the project, and now it is time to document the final stage of the excavation and as much of the hull as we have managed to expose. After a first look around the site, the photogrammetry team is setting to work on their gear, painting a cube of steel tube to calibrate pictures, fixing a new set of labels and preparing their cameras, three of them mounted on a sturdy frame.

The rest of the team help where they can - not only because the newcomers have made themselves agreeable by serving a little aperitif of Gin and Tonic the evening before. In a way, the little project is underwater archaeology at its best: specialists of various disciplines are coming together, often called by ties of professional friendship and scientific curiosity, to work alongside technical staff and students. It's a shifting team with members coming and going depending on the work necessary at the different stages, with very different levels of knowledge and skills and a medley of languages, and yet - it works. A fair amount of tolerance regarding cultural differences and awkward conditions, and of curiosity about each other and the tasks at hand make a team out of all these people, and a research project out of sometimes tedious or difficult work.

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Another shout of "Caretta caretta" interrupts my musings, and in an instant half the team hangs over the side of the ship, hoping to catch a glimpse. No such luck though, and we soon return to kitting up the dive teams and fixing the airlift. The first thing to do in preparation of the photo session is a thorough cleaning of the site. It means we are not excavating any deeper today, so the team at the sieve can expect much less finds than usual, but an equal amount of seaweed and mud. The water is wonderfully clear, with visibility good enough to see the site with the hull from shipside, all tagged in white and yellow. It's documentation day: the photogrammetry team is circling the hull, while the team's architect is hovering on the tips of his fins to draw the hull we have uncovered so far.

DSC_8326The whole day, one or other team member is sure to spot a glimpse of a sea turtle that just refuses to be seen by anyone else. As we finally return to the harbour, we decide that we are most likely dealing with a new species - Chimaeretta chimaeretta, wonder of the Eastern Seas.


Dig diary Zakynthos - belatedly
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September 18, 2012

It's just occurred to the team that even a three week project won't last forever and the pace has stepped up for now. The hole at the stern is deeper than we expected - what was assumed to be the bottom level of last season's work turned out to be infill of loose sediment. It's not always easy to tell from the original sediment, but in this case, the presence of a number of sandbags, used to stabilise the hull as it emerged from the seabed, gave a bit of a hint that the place had been worked on before.

DSC_8174It means we are back to digging into the clay. My body has remembered the underwater state of things though, my team-mate and I work together well, and a very slight current is carrying off any suspended sediment into the right direction. It provides us with enough visibility to level off our sectors cleanly and to observe any changes in sediment colour or grain size. 1 1/2 years of land experience are paying off: There are a few patches of dark-grey, coarse sand in which there are a number of iron concretions - intriguing objects to find. They will yield the secret of what's inside only after further examination with X-rays or, in the case of less promising material, a hammer.

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The hazelnuts, we see now, are closely packed just outside the hull, in dark organic sediment and occasionally stuck together with pitch. Unnoticed by us but caught by the observant conservators above, a few pieces of pottery are coming up, a piece of glass that looks like a stopper, and more wood. It's great diving, and a good day's work: we are to come up when the air in our tanks is down to 70 bar to give us enough time for a 3-minute decompression stop at three meters, and we still get 70 minutes worth of bottom time out of it.

On the down side: they are giving me a room mate. I know I am being very ungenerous about it, but... Remember what I said about "spacious"? Besides, it's the fifth room mate in three months for me, I have no home to speak of anyway, and the famous quote of Lethal Weapon forces itself upon my mind.

Luckily for the girl, I have time to cool off and put up at least a hospitable appearance. She turns out to be pleasant, well-mannered and imbued with a wonderfully sharp black sense of humour - we are getting on quite well.

September 19, 2012

It takes ages for me to descend this time. Embarrassed, I am gently floating down, and slightly up again for equalising, and a little further down, and up again... My buddy is patiently hovering just over the sea floor, as she should, but it doesn't feel well to keep everyone waiting.

The dive itself is good, with a gentle current and some good work getting done, and ascension is no problem. A slight pain manifests itself in my right ear, though. Should I go on my second dive? Perhaps it was too early to dive after the cold (But I had gotten so VERY tired of sitting around!), and descending on the plane had been a problem, too (But it had worked in the end!), and it's better to lose a few dives than all chance of diving ever again (But I'd be sitting around AGAIN!).

In the end, the sober sense of the divemaster prevails: No diving today, and if the pain persists, no coming on the boat tomorrow. After all, ear trouble could mean balance problems, and that is a liability wherever people are working on moving surfaces.

A good night's sleep will set me up, surely...

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Dig diary Zakynthos - on airlifts
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September 17, 2012

Equalising works perfectly well today, but just before we are about to start work, quite out of the blue, my body suddenly recalls that I am a land animal. There's water in my nose, my mouth is too dry from breathing through a regulator, an awkward memory resurfaces of a moment during ascension yesterday when air trapped in the wetsuit from working upside down was suddenly released and rushed up around my head - a single wave of panic floods me. Diving is an excellent exercise in not giving in, though: You're down here, you won't be going up any time soon (scaring your dive buddy? upsetting the whole team up on the boat? wasting a full dive, and work time?) and there's no real problem anyway, so you breathe deeply, gently letting the fright ebb away before it can build up into a tide. And the blue sea is beautiful around you, the sunlight dances on fish and archaeology, and there's really no better place to be.

Now, airlifts. As in land archaeology, you need to remove quite some sediment from your site, and it needs to go somewhere. Unlike on land, though, you cannot push it around in a wheelbarrow. If you don't expect too many finds, you can use a dredge to do the job. It will suck away whatever you feed into it (including archaeology, so beware of setting it up with too strong a draught) and deposit it in a neat spoil heap at its end. This may have the added advantage of keeping away from your beautifully level, clean site the many fish or crabs who hang around under the assumption that a big creature digging into the seabed (i.e. you) will eventually come up with some sort of edibles for them.

On the other hand, any find that you miss is likely to be lost, even if you occasionally check the spoilheap. In such cases, you would opt for an airlift, a long hose attached to a pump which sucks water and sediment in and transports it to the surface, where everything will be discarded into a sieve. Some very wet but usually eager person (an archaeologist or conservator, someone used to spotting objects whose colour or form is a bit "off" the usual seabed material; it's typically a student job) will be keeping an eye on it, getting spattered with potentially very smelly sediment, raking through seaweed and picking out everything that looks like archaeology.
Airlift

An airlift that is properly set up should be suspended in the water, the moving bits ideally with neutral buoyancy (i.e. "floating" in the water at working level). If it works well, you can control the draught by putting the fingers of the hand holding it in front of the opening. You then dig with small movements, fanning loose sediment into the direction of the draught or feeding small amounts of sediment into it. This way, you can work efficiently while maintaining good visibility. (It's usually nice to see what you're doing, in archaeology...)Airlift


Airlift ready
If it doesn't work so well, you might create huge clouds of sediment because it doesn't get sucked away soon enough, which means you'd all have to excavate with your nose practically on the ground (something which your team members usually don't appreciate quite so much). As an airlift acts like a vacuum cleaner, it must also not be too strong or it will be hard to control and eat its way into your archaeology all by itself. That's not only an uncontrolled destructive process which must always be avoided (remember what I said about the rampant digging of holes?), it will also eventually lead to your airlift choking on material.
Airlift not ready.
Sometimes, shaking the whole contraption will then solve the problem, but if it doesn't, you need to bring up the thing, take it apart and clean it all out. For the same reason, it makes sense to have a valve under water to shut off the airlift when it is not needed, for example when you change "shifts" by having the first team come up before the next goes down (done sometimes to brief the new team with the latest developments) or when the photographers need a clean site to work on.


Airlift take-over.
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As you are working away, you might occasionally send a message up to the team at the sieve: "Not sure if this piece of shale/stone/concretion is archaeology, see what you can make of it in broad daylight." If you are feeling nice, you might even entertain them a bit: "15 minutes of work and nothing but Posidonia and dull clay: here's a pretty shell for you up there."


Airlift, tamed

Dig diary Zakynthos - the plunge
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September 16, 2012

My first dive at last! The site is just outside Zakinthos harbour, a bit of well-preserved wooden hull that has well withstood erosion and shipworm attacks, especially under its protective cover of geotextile. At about 10m depths, visibility is wonderful (compared to Northern European standards). When the sea is calm, you can observe from shipside the divers working away, hanging upside down over the archaeology, feet carefully suspended so as to avoid any chance disturbance of sediment or finds. Bubbles are gently drifting up out of the blue in streams of silver, each a reassuring message by the team down, of calm breathing and ample air supply.
Silver bubbles

When the site was first opened in 2000, some coins of Philip II. gave a clue to dating and possible connections. (Ah, you don't remember the time and place of Philip II? Go on, look him up, I'm not telling you. ;-) Finds like these tell you about the story of a site in full (albeit single) sentences rather than the one-word utterances you need to tease out of ceramic sherds or wooden planks, out of glass pieces or ferrous concretions by means of typology, tree-ring dating or C14 analysis, or even with X-raying and a hammer, in the case of concretions. (This, dear treasure hunters, is the reason why archaeologists are generally rather unhappy with you removing stuff from a site and selling it on e-bay.)

For the moment, the small finds are unassuming: Stray pieces of light-coloured wood and hazelnut shells, some of them complete. The objective, however, is not to burrow through the site in search of something, anything spectacular.

Before any dive project in general and every dive in particular, all members of the team need to understand precisely what questions they should help trying to answer, what they should do to that end what each job is aiming to achieve. Now, we have a shipwreck here. One end, most likely the stern, is free of sediment on top, showing strakes (i.e. the planks linked in one line, thus forming the "skin" of this type of ship) and frames (i.e. the timbers that make the "ribs"). To understand the construction and maybe place the typology of the vessel, the next step would be to look at the sternpost and the keel, and some measure has been taken during the last project to find these: there is a hole dug quite unceremoniously at the end of the hull.

Digging holes, in archaeology, is not as common as you would think: stratigraphy is most important for placing and dating finds, so whatever material you remove, said removal should happen in layers. Accordingly, we now work on levelling the surrounding sediment to match the depth around the stern, again scraping away the material evenly, keeping the site as clean as possible to observe changes in sediment, both horizontally and vertically.

It's a bit tricky, this "keeping the site clean", what with my own rusty skills and consequently awkward movements, my dive partner's feet hanging into my sector and the heavy clay that needs some leverage to be worked on and therefore a hand on the ground while doing so. All of this is sending clouds of milky, light-grey sediment up above our heads. It quickly reduces the visibility to zero, and we rely on the sharp eyes of the conservators at the other end of the airlift to sort out any small finds.

How an airlift works, I hear you ask. Well, let's leave that until tomorrow, shall we?

Chronos!

Dig diary Zakynthos - starters
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September 13, 2012

For two days, the sky was blue, so was the sea, the diving great - only not for me. A blocked nose and a heavy cough have kept me on land, and embarrassed: eating the project food, staying in the project hotel, not doing project work. A bit of a cough is not in itself a problem. It is perfectly possible to cough into a regulator as long as you have trained yourself out of the reflex of wanting to shoot to the surface. A blocked nose, on the other hand, can be a dangerous thing: it makes it impossible to equalise, i.e. to blow air from your nose into the middle ear. That is a necessary exercise to keep your ear drums from imploding and ripping as the air volume in the middle ear is reduced by the mounting water pressure. (For anyone interested, here's a good link to easily accessible information: http://www.divewerkz.com/docs/equalising.pdf).

It has allowed me to explore my surroundings, though. I was delighted to have a room to myself - the first in months, and I won't even be obliged to shift for three wonderful weeks. I'm feeling at home, already. As for the size... Well, let's say this particular meaning of the term "spacious" (as described in the hotel leaflet) had been unknown to me so far. A sticker on the front door of the hotel states it has featured on "TripAdvisors.co.uk", and it certainly has a lot to recommend itself to British tourists: breakfast consist of a variety of sweet white sponginess that could loosely be described as bread, the tea is strong enough to wake up a comatose elephant, and the decoration in the room is of the "water colours in old ladies' cafés" kind. (One Julia Rowntree must be making buckets of money supplying middle-class tourist accommodations world-wide with generic non-art.)

Misled by these clues to Englishness, I am assuming the string in the bathroom to pull a hot-water switch, but it brings me to the accommodating voice of the receptionist/landlord/nightguard - it's an alarm. In a 2.5 x 2.0m bathroom. There's another alarm button at the headboard of the bed, and this has me slightly worried: is this simply to accommodate the recent British predilection for Health&Safety, or what kind of emergency is there to be assumed? In other mysteries, the hotel leaflet, in a rather conspicuous manner, uses "discreet" at least twice to advertise itself. I hesitate to draw conclusions.
Zakinthos_AgNikolaou

The hotel is in the middle of town, which gives easy access to the tourist delights (St. Mark's Square, slightly less spectacular than the one in Venice, Solomon Square, shops of the Made-In-China variety and two museums of provincial quality) but is highly detrimental to sleep at any time of the day. There appears to be a local custom to make motor scooters as loud as ever possible, and great skills must have been acquired in that area. The swarms passing in the streets certainly give a good impression of an airport having descended right into town. They disrupt conversations and infuse our dreams with visions of shotguns.
Zakynthos_landside
Zakynthos_seaside

September 15, 2012

The weather is with me - it's turned so bad that diving is impossible. Thunderstorms are accumulating towards the NW over Kephallonia and are moving towards us - strangely so, as the high winds are from the SO. Whole bathtubs of rain are crashing down on us, washing the streets clean of debris, tourists and, blessedly, of motor scooters. All boats have pulled in and are sitting well secured side by side in the harbour. The harbourmaster is not permitting any of them to leave port, while white horses are rearing up against the low promenade wall. Occasionally, they are jumping over, to the delighted horror of tourists who venture out in the few calm breaks to take pictures against a backdrop of wild sea. And indeed, drop they do in the end.
Seaspray.

For the project, it's unfortunate. The first two weeks have been and gone with geomorphological work, and cleaning and removing the geotextile that covered the site since 2000, when it was worked on the last time. That was good going, and we are lucky that the site is too deep to be much disturbed by wave action, but there are not much data or finds yet to entertain a bunch of archaeologists - some international specialists, some budding ones in the form of students - that are sitting around in growing frustration. We are entertaining ourselves as best we can with emails, preparations for the next term at uni and showing each other our pet projects from home - it turns into a mini conference, with people exchanging their latest PowerPoint presentations, conservation tips and cultural heritage management ideas. There's open laptops all over the place, and open minds, and at least five different languages to make sense of it all. Amazingly, is actually works.

You know, this thing they tell us when we finish school, about there being no such thing as a dreamjob? It's all rubbish.


Dig diary Zakynthos - the journey hither
frigate
anyarabroad
September 11, 2012

Well now, another place, another project. Somewhere in the far, warm blue of the Ionian Sea there's an island called Zakynthos...

My journey has started at 0430, with the taxi to the train station. Usually, that's not a problem, but today evidently my higher brain functions haven't woken up with the rest of me. As I have to change trains, all seems well: I have cleverly taken an earlier train to make sure there was enough time to drag my two suitcases from one platform to the other, the regional train I'm set on taking (saving money; it's a volunteer project I'm going on) is on time and permits a leisurely stroll along the carriages to find an entrance not yet blocked by other early travellers' gear.

Imagine my shock then as the thing closes its doors into my face and pulls out of the station right in front of my nose! Marie Antoinette, upon seeing her head fall into the guillotine basket, couldn't have been more surprised than me. It actually takes me a moment to unfreeze, and enquire, in a rather panicked voice, after alternative trains to the next town. An ICE in 12 minutes, or another regional train in 1/2 hour? Economy wars with expediency but there's no way the regional train will bring me to the airport in time for the wretched security checks: there goes the money for another ticket.

It's only as I sit on the train, idly leafing through the itinerary, that I discover the train doesn't stop at the airport at all, just at the main station! What International City Express would not stop at an international airport, I'm asking you? Almost headlessly I jump off again before the shock ebbs away enough for sensible thought - there's GOT to be trams out to the airport. Regular ones. Frequent, even.

Indeed there are, and fortune adds some kindness for the first time this day: as my little caravan of one is about to board the next best transport, a sharp-eyed lady advises my in heavily accented German to better wait for the next train. It would bring me directly to the airport, not to the wretched SkyTrain that is under maintenance these days and has given way to an even more wretched (and slower) bus. May she travel safely and comfortably to wherever she's going!

Check-in on time and no hassle with the dive gear, security check, gate found... I don't need a coffee to wake me up into this one morning.

Reisenachtrag
frigate
anyarabroad
Nachrichten von unterwegs

Da sieht man mal, wie unglaublich lange ich hier keinen Eintrag mehr geschrieben habe – nicht mal einen anständigen Titel bekomme ich mehr hin. (Hinweis für meinen Dad: nein, auch ein unanständiger will mir nicht einfallen.)
Also machen wir's klassisch.
Ort: Zagreb (von: Zadar nach: München) Obwohl das so einfach gar nicht ist. Ursprünglich bin ich ja von Kythnos aufgebrochen, und will natürlich auch nicht in München bleiben. Kythnos ist eine Kykladeninsel, also Teil Griechenlands, und in der zweiten Bucht nördlich von Merichas war eine Ausgrabung, die...
Das würde dann allerdings ein ganz anderer Eintrag werden.
Zeit: 1830hrs.
Bisherige Reisezeit: 5 Std. 10 Minuten. Was gar nicht so schlecht ist wenn man bedenkt daß ich schon drei verschiedene Verkehrsmittel benutzt und mich quer durch's halbe Land bewegt habe. (Wie bitte? Welches Land? Na, das muß man beim Hinweis Zagreb aber wissen. Husch, schnell bei Wikipedia nachgeschaut!)

Dabei war es dort wo ich war sehr hübsch. Zadars Altstadt ist eine Halbinsel mit ein wenig frühneuzeitlicher Befestigung, einer großen Menge alter Häuser und Straßenpflaster, das die Jahrhunderte blank getreten haben. Des Abends spiegelt sich darin wunderhübsch das Licht der Laternen.

Für Leute die gern in jeden Winkel schauen, hat die Stadt eine reiche Auswahl zu bieten - wenn man die mindervergnügten Privatleute in kauf nimmt, die eine plötzlich auftretende Plage neugieriger Touristen nicht unbedingt erfreut. Manchmal wird der Winkelschauer aber auch mit römischem Architekturerbe im Hinterhof, einer unvermuteten Abkürzung oder einem Biergärtchen unter Hinterhofbaum erfreut.

Vielleicht sollte ich auch noch rasch von der phantastischen Pizza (Italien ist nicht weit!), dem beeindruckenden Glasmuseum und den vielen mittelalterlichen Kirchen aus hellem Stein erzählen und einen Hinweis auf die großartigen Backwaren (Auch Österreich ist nahe!) zu erstaunlich niedrigen Preisen einfügen? Dem Reisenden sowie dem Frühaufsteher ist außerdem nützlich zu wissen, daß die Cafés nicht immer Süßspeisen zu bieten haben, es aber möglich und üblich ist, sich anderwärtig mit solchen zu versorgen und sie im Café zu verzehren. Ich persönlich finde es noch hübscher, sie und den Milchkaffee mit mir an die Uferpromenade zu tragen und mit den letzten Krümeln des Schokoladencroissants die Fische im klaren Wasser zu füttern.

Die Fremdenverkehrsamtsbroschüren dagegen behaupten, die Hauptattraktion Zadars sei die Wasserorgel von... Das habe ich mir leider nicht gemerkt. Auch eine Frage für Wikip.
Jedenfalls ist das gebaute Kunstwerk eine tolle Sache: aus dem gleichen hellen Stein wie das Pflaster sind Stufen bis ins Wasser gebaut, von denen einige Löcher in sich haben. Die Wellen drücken von unten Luft hindurch und erzeugen Töne, die ähnlich einer hölzernen Querflöte klingen – ja nach Wellengang mehr oder weniger, schneller oder langsamer. Wie es sich wohl bei winterlichem Hochwasser anhört?

Von allen diesen Schönheiten kann ich leider keine Bilder liefern (ich war ja zur Arbeit dort), aber jedenfalls zählt zum Gesamteindruck auch die Gastfreundlichkeit der Einheimischen. Diese Phrase gehört nun leider zum Grundnahrungsmittel der Touristenführer, aber hier ist der Hinweis notwendig – Freundlichkeit ist nämlich nicht auf den ersten Blick sichtbar. Ein zusammenhangloses Lächeln an Fremde wird selten erwidert, Umgangston und Körpersprache wirken herb und sachlich und wahren Distanz. Die Freundlichkeit liegt in kleinen Gesten: die Verkäuferin von Postkarten verweist ohne Anfrage auf den naheliegendsten Briefkasten, die Marktfrau probiert fünf verschiedene Sprachen, bis eine Kommunikation zustande kommt und wer persönliche Gastgeber hat darf sich an unaufdringlicher Fürsorge erfreuen.

Da ich das alles aber nun verlasse und der Heimat zustrebe will ich euch doch lieber an ein paar Reiseerfahrungen teilhaben lassen. Dabei gleich eine Warnung: Informationen zu diesem Thema scheinen notorisch unzuverlässig zu sein.
„Es gibt nur eine Buslinie zum Busbahnhof“, hieß es, „Du kannst es nicht verpassen! Ist auch nur eine Station.“ Natürlich habe ich von den drei Buslinien die nicht ganz richtige erwischt. Es war immerhin eine interessante Rundfahrt durch die Wohnviertel Zadars.
Für den eigentlichen Reisebeginn schien mir das Taxi also doch die bessere Wahl, und ich komme auch richtig am Autobus Kolodvar an. „Perron 5“, hatte mir die Dame beim Fahrkartenverkauf eingeschärft, und genau dort baue ich meine kleine Festung aus drei Taschen, einem Koffer und einem Rucksack am vordersten Tisch des Bistros auf. Vielleicht kann ich die Reiseverpflegungstüte doch noch irgendwie unterbringen? Der Bus erscheint mit erstaunlicher, unkroatischer Pünktlichkeit, ich stürze den Orangensaft hinunter und preise einmal mehr die hiesige Gewohnheit, zum Bezahlen einfach den entsprechenden Betrag auf den Tisch legen und gehen zu können.

Nicht bekannt war mir dagegen, daß Gepäck extra kostet – was für ein Glück, daß ich nicht schon die letzten Kunar verwertet hatte! Komfortabel schaukele ich also nach Zagreb und erinnere mich, diese Gegend schon einmal sehr hübsch gefunden zu haben: der Stein verwittert von gelb zu grau, blaue Seen liegen allenthalben in der Landschaft, und es gibt endlich wieder Wald zu sehen – was für eine Erleichterung nach der kargen kykladischen Landschaft!
„Kein Problem, der Bahnhof ist direkt an der Busstation“, war die Information zur nächsten Etappe gewesen, aber ich sperre mißtrauisch die Augen auf. „Autobus Kolodvor“ wird ja wohl die Endstation des Busses sein, aber wo ist der Bahnhof? Vielleicht das häßliche graue Gebäude um die Ecke? Ich versuche den Fahrer zu fragen, aber der versteht nicht und wendet sich ab – keine kulturell gebotene Höflichkeit vermag die internationale Garstigkeit von Busfahrern auszugleichen. „Can I help?“, fragt eine Passagierin und schaut gleich darauf höchst irritiert: „With the train? From Zagreb?!?“ Jetzt sagt mir nicht das geht gar nicht, ich hab' für teuer Geld einen Zugfahrschein erworben... „You must take the tram“, sagt sie dann aber doch. „I can show you.“ Ich nicke meinen Dank, flitze in den Bus um mein Gepäck zu holen, aber als ich zurückkomme ist die hilfreiche Dame verschwunden. Kommunikation in fremden Landen ist nicht einfach.

Hier stehe ich nun, nicht bestellt und schon mal gar nicht abgeholt. Vage erinnere ich mich, daß der Name des Hauptbahnhofes irgendwie mit G und K zusammenhing. Ob vielleicht auf dem Fahrschein...? Ja, da steht es: „Zagreb-München“, Gl. Kol. Vom Bus aus war ein Vorortzug zu sehen gewesen. „Glavni Kolodvor“ hatte darauf gestanden. Wenn nun „Kolodvor“ irgendeine Hauptstation ist, heißt „Glavni“ vielleicht „Zug“? Die Abkürzung könnte ja stimmen. Ob ich nicht doch lieber zur „Informacije“ gehe? Eine Rolltreppe führt dort hinauf. Ich sehe aber keine, die wieder herunter führt. Meine Risikobereitschaft erhöht sich nach einem Blick auf mein Gepäck – nie im Leben schleppe ich die Tauchausrüstung auch noch vertikal durch den Busbahnhof!

Also hinaus zur Straßenbahn. Es gibt neun Linien, deren keine bei „Glavni Kolodvor“ endet – auch in Gegenrichtung nicht, und der Linienplan ist mit schwarzer Farbe übersprüht. Kurzfristig verläßt mich alle Freude daran, die Sicherheitskontrollen/das endlose Warten/das lästige Umpacken am Flughafen umgangen zu haben. Wer, um Himmels Willen, sollte eigentlich in die Fremde reisen wollen? Wie kann man sich überhaupt auf die Straße wagen, ohne vorher GoogleMaps zu konsultieren? Warum habe ich denn immer noch kein iPhone, dann könnte ich wenigstens den Bahnhofsnamen nachschauen?

Schließlich finde ich aber doch zu grundsätzlichen menschlichen Fähigkeiten der Problemlösung zurück, trete meiner Zurückhaltung gegenüber Neuem ins täglich breiter werdende Hinterteil und frage einfach nach. Die zwei Mädchen helfen sich gegenseitig mit ihrem Englisch, und diesmal halten die Infos auch der Gegenprüfung durch die Karte stand. Wie komme ich nun an die Fahrkarte? Automaten sehe ich keine. In der Straßenbahn vielleicht? Nein, man kann die Karten beim Zeitungskiosk kaufen. Davon sehe ich aber auch keinen. „Or you just go and hope nobody comes“, nicken die zwei, und ich beschließe, daß Ratschläge von Einheimischen doch die besten sind.

Eins, zwei, drei... Ich zähle die Stationen ab, doch es gibt auch eine Automatenstimme UND eine digitale Anzeige, die mich über die Haltestellen aufklärt. Die Bahn rollt auf einen Platz und ja, das ist jedenfalls ein Hauptbahnhof erster Güte: gut genährtes 19. Jrhd. in einem passenden Ensemble, mit großem wohlgepflegtem Park, edlem Springbrunnen und einer ganzen Batterie von Museen in nächster Nähe. Gewiß sind auch die vielen Stare zu repräsentativen Zwecken eingeflogen. Kurz überlege ich, ob sie sich hier zum Winterzug sammeln, aber dann geht mir auf: ich bin hier auf der Südseite der Alpen - die haben ihn schon hinter sich! Zu Hause ist Oktober, und hier sitze ich im T-Shirt!

Vergnügt trinke ich ein letztes dunkles Bier und strebe in den Bahnhof, Reiseverpflegung zu erwerben. Er ist sauber, ordentlich, sogar mit Sitzmöbeln ausgestattet, der Bahnhofsbäcker hat anständige Ware und ist rund um die Uhr geöffnet! Das soll Kroatien mal einer nachmachen. Deutschland vielleicht, um nur eine von vielen Möglichkeiten zu nennen.
Es wird noch eine lange Fahrt, aber gerade jetzt, gerade hier freue ich mich an der Abwesenheit von Flughäfen in meiner nächsten Zukunft.

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