Underwater Adventures at Dor

Katherine Crawford is a student in the International MA Program in Maritime Civilizations at the University of Haifa. Her blog post below highlights some of the hands-on experience, including land and water archaeological excavations, students receive while participating in our programs!

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For those that don’t know I am spending the year in Israel at the University of Haifa getting a masters in Maritime Civilizations, focusing on underwater archaeology. This past week I had the opportunity to participate in a week-long excavation at Tel Dor. IMG_0797Dor, which is located only 30 km south of Haifa, dates back to the Bronze Age (2000 BC) and has periods of occupation until the Crusader period. We were excavating in what is called the North bay, doing a combination of both terrestrial and underwater excavations.

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The land portion of our excavation consisted of excavating two different structures to determine their date and to see if there was any relation to a harbour structure. Despite many seasons of excavation focused on the tel of Dor, not much attention has been paid to bays north and south of the tel.

Since it’s a coastal site we had to deal with the water table, which means that once we got deep enough we had pump the water out of the excavation area in order to see what was being excavated.IMG_0916

Having to deal with water and digging in sand was a much different experience from any of my past excavations. But it’s hard to beat spending the week on a beautiful beach with amazing weather.

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Unlike most excavations, we ended up having really good food on site. While Turkish coffee and tea is a given on any excavation in Israel, having meals like Shakshouka (eggs poached in tomato sauce with various vegetables) cooked on the beach was completely unexpected.

This week was also my first opportunity to actually dive and work on a few underwater surveys. One of the tasks I got to participate in was taking transects in the harbour – laying a 200 m measuring tape on the sea floor and taking GPS points and depths at fixed intervals along it. While I have been diving the past couple years, it was a steep learning curve to transition from recreational diving to actually having to do technical things underwater. Simple tasks like writing become much more difficult when you have to not only deal with your buoyancy but also water currents while holding multiple objects. I also got to spend an afternoon participating in a very basic shallow survey. This consisted of three people diving in a line, looking for any architectural features or pottery.

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