Archive for the ‘Guest Blogger’ Category

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Avocationals Supporting the Profession – By Dave Howe

January 18, 2011

Editor’s note:

2010 was a great year for the Guest Blogger series which we capped off by publishing the Guest Blogger Anthology (available for free download off the MUA homepage).  We are very happy to kick off the 2011 Guest Blogger series by reaching out to a valuable partner in the field of underwater archaeology.  We’ve  invited Dave Howe to write about avocational involvement in underwater surveys and how trained volunteers can support professional archaeological endeavors.

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Dave HoweAvocationals can provide free, useful and valuable labor on field projects or on other work in direct support of projects.  Although not trained to professional standards in archaeology, avocationals can bring a number of related or supplemental skills, including diving, boat handling, data management, equipment maintenance, forensics, and more.  They also can assist in publication and outreach.  The MUA hosts a number of posts from avocational groups.

For instance trained volunteer groups can conduct independent reconnaissance and assessment for State Historic Preservation Offices.  For example, during 2010 the Institute of Maritime History (IMH) mapped and reported ten sites to the Maryland Historical Trust (MHT), continued searching for two Revolutionary War warships for MHT, and began the first known underwater survey at Mount Vernon, finding two definite wrecks, two probable wrecks, and other cultural features not yet mapped.  In February and March 2011 we will map those sites and continue searching for others.  This project is for the benefit of Mount Vernon, MHT, and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (VDHR).

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Deepwater Archaeology in Oil and Gas – By Kimberly L. Faulk (née Eslinger)

December 14, 2010

Kim FaulkThe unfortunate events leading up to and following the Macondo well blowout, and the loss of eleven lives in April have focused international attention on the domestic oil and gas industry in the United States for the first time since the Exxon Valdez oil spill on March 24, 1989.  In the 21 years since the Exxon Valdez disaster archaeologists have become more sophisticated in reacting to environmental and archaeological emergencies and in sharing that information with their colleagues.  For the relatively small number of us who work in the oil and gas industry as underwater archaeologists the impact of the recent spill will be on our minds for years to come.  Those of us who work offshore are highly aware of the innate dangers that surround offshore surveys, Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) operations, drilling operations, and infrastructure installation.  I was offshore the day Macondo exploded and for those of us on the boat, our first concern was whether there was anything we could do to assist.  Our second concern that day and the one we didn’t want to voice was whether we knew anyone aboard Deepwater Horizon.

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The Historic Environment: Shared Heritage and Joint Responsibilities? – By Ian Oxley

November 16, 2010

Throughout a thirty-year career in maritime archaeology, a particular hobby-horse of mine has been an element of good practice management that involves jointly sharing heritage responsibilities, as well as benefits and outcomes.

At a basic level, I think that much maritime and underwater heritage is inherently multi-national, a fundamental property opens up great opportunities for co-operative investigation and use, overriding present day boundaries.  It is derived from mobile carriers (ships and boats) travelling between many locations, involving and impacting on many lives, gathering stories so that a rich heritage resource can be re-told now and in the future.

The contributory elements that make up sites that result from this activity can be investigated and presented for education, research and amenity. Making all this happen effectively would seem to be best delivered by a managed contribution from all interested parties, requiring sharing various elements at a range of levels – experience, expertise, knowledge, data, and international, national, and local. It also needs to be effective because archaeological resources are unique, no two sites are the same, and any investigation should be carefully planned so that the maximum of beneficial return is gained with the minimum of impact. This is the joint responsibility bit because the archaeological heritage is a legacy from the past for the future. I hope to show a few examples of what I mean here.

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What Does it Mean to “Go Digital”? – By Dr. T. Mills Kelly

October 19, 2010

Back in the late 1990s – the days of Web 0.5 – I was a pioneer of sorts when it came to thinking about how new media might be changing the way students thought about the past. I got started with research on new media because I had an itch that needed scratching…What I wanted to know was whether or not the work I was putting into my website and into creating web-based assignments for my students was remotely worth it. I decided I needed to do a little research to see what I could learn about how my students used the digital learning materials I was creating for them and whether their use of those materials was changing their thinking at all.

As often happens with “little research projects,” the work I did that year transformed my career in that it opened me up to an entirely new way of thinking about teaching and learning. And because the results of my project found their way into an online journal, which then won an award, which then led to a job at George Mason University’s Center for History and New Media, I was suddenly an expert of sorts on digital pedagogy.

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Integrating Underwater and Terrestrial Archaeology – By Matthew A. Russell

May 17, 2010

As Jim Delgado reminded us in a recent MUA blog, underwater archaeology has been a separate and distinct sub-discipline of archaeology since George Bass’s first full-scale underwater excavation at Cape Gelidonya in 1960. Unfortunately, many early practitioners of underwater archaeology were not treated as serious scholars by terrestrial colleagues in the mainstream of either classical or anthropological archaeology. From the beginning, underwater archaeologists had to fight the perception that antiquarian-style collecting was the limit to what could be done underwater. This perception was repeatedly challenged through early publications that demonstrated the potential of anthropological archaeology underwater, including Keith Muckelroy’s Maritime Archaeology (1978), and Richard Gould’s edited volume Shipwreck Anthropology (1983), which was based on a School of American Research Advanced Seminar organized by Daniel Lenihan and Larry Murphy in 1981. Early skepticism about the scientific or academic contributions of underwater archaeology may also have been because of the inevitable confusion between treasure hunting and underwater archaeology, a problem that still exists among the public and even among other archaeologists. Despite fifty years of professional underwater archaeological research and publication, a gap still exists between terrestrial and underwater archaeologists.

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The Institute of Nautical Archaeology – By Dr. James P. Delgado

March 17, 2010

Founded in 1973, the Institute of Nautical Archaeology is in its 37th year of operation in 2010, and we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first scientific archaeological excavation of a shipwreck under water at Cape Gelidonya.  When journalist/adventurer Peter Throckmorton arrived in Bodrum in the spring of 1958 to write about Turkish sponge divers, he learned of many ancient wrecks as he gained the divers’ confidence.  Throckmorton visited many of them, diving on what he later said were up to a hundred wrecks.  He also visited an underwater excavation off Albenga, Italy, where six divers worked on a Roman wreck, supervised by archaeologists who remained on the deck and did not dive.  Important discoveries were being made elsewhere in the Mediterranean, and in the U.S., and pioneering explorers interested in archaeological discovery were diving, but no one had completely excavated a shipwreck under water. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Treasure Hunters, So Few So Loud – United States Perspective – By Dr. Anne Giesecke

February 14, 2010

The purpose of the Abandoned Shipwreck Act (ASA) was to remove shipwrecks in state waters from the federal admiralty court.  After all, the states had the right to permit excavation of state land for any other purpose, sand, oil etc.  Unfortunately, I underestimated the territorial power grab of the federal courts that started about the same time, the early 1980’s,  that has resulted in them declaring jurisdiction over concepts such as abandoned or whatever as well as global claims for the Titanic, Lusitania and the Bismarck.   The federal court applied their power grab even   more aggressively to business by running companies like AT & T and GM.  So the purpose of the ASA was partially met as states had to fight fewer claims in federal court and could put more energy into establishing underwater parks and programs.  The primary purpose of the ASA, from an historical perspective was educational. Read the rest of this entry ?