Sea us: “Sea” Our Days Underwater

Blog post written by Sara Lantos, master’s student in Maritime Civiliations graduate program, class of 2015-2016. This is a continuation of our blog mini-series “Sea Us” with contributions from several students in the program. 

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This past February graduate students from the Maritime Civilizations program spent 2 weeks diving, surveying and learning underwater excavation methods. During the first week we participated in an underwater survey at Tel Dor what was part of an Advanced Archaeological Field Methods course from the previous semester. The days started at 6 a.m. with the drive to pick up the equipment, and then another short drive to Dor where we would set up our base for the day. None of the days could start without bourekas from a bakery in the area and fresh coffee and tea made on the beach. Following this energy boosting breakfast we had briefings and then we began to get ready to jump in the water to hunt for some pottery and anchors. We were excited to find something new and gain in-depth archaeology survey experience, and so not even the 17 °C cold water could stop us from suiting up and getting in the water. As a reward after the dive for our exploration efforts and collecting of finds, we always had a delicious hot lunch made by our dive-masters (and master chefs) Amir and Moshiko on the beach. At the end of the day, after diving, surveying and drawing we conducted pottery reading activity (selecting significant finds and throwing the others back to the sea and writing down information about the pieces). In this way we all had the opportunity to see what we found and learned more about the pottery, such as type and chronology. During this intensive and exciting week we learned how to organize and do an underwater survey in shallow water, and also gained a greater understanding of the amazing site of Tel Dor. For me, the best part of the Dor underwater survey was the opportunity to dive again after one year, and finally combine my hobby with my archaeological studies.

The other diving program in this past February was an underwater excavation course in Akko at the Naval School. This course aimed to teach us methods of surveying and excavating underwater. The days started at 7 a.m. with the drive to Akko. We had breakfast and the briefing first thing upon arriving in Akko. As soon as we were ready, the first group would start the exercises. We usually dove once or twice a day and also participated in some land exercises. Everyone had to organize and lead a mission (an exercise) and take part in all of the other ones. We learned how the set up and break down the equipments for an underwater excavation and for other underwater archaeological activities. We also learned about navigation underwater, ropes, knots and basic seamanship. We had an amazing team of international and Israeli graduate students, and during the exercises and time spent in Akko we learned a ton about underwater excavation and survey, and also had a lot of fun. The weather was amazing and luckily we had quite good visibility in the bay, which is unusual for Akko. One afternoon during our time at Akko we had the opportunity to learn the basics of windsurfing and paddle boarding, and we were able to surf in a beautiful sunset after a busy workday. This week taught us generally about the underwater archaeology and also gave us the opportunity to try various survey and excavation methods in the sea. It was great to experience the process of an underwater excavation, work with a great team, and get closer to one of my dreams: to work as underwater archaeologist.

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For more information and opportunities for international students interested in this field, check out the master’s in Maritime Civilizations at the University of Haifa, click here or email us at infograd@univ.haifa.ac.il.

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