UNESCO Foundation Course

The first week of the UNESCO underwater cultural heritage foundation course has finished! It has been busy, with long days full with new information, materials and practical courses. We have a large international group with all really nice people, coming from South Africa, the Netherlands, Belize, Cuba, Haiti Dominican Republic, St. Eustatius, Bonaire, Suriname, Venezuela, Canada and the UK. The foundation course is meant to teach everyone how to deal underwater cultural heritage and all the facets that are involved.
The focus of last week was on the UNESCO side of things and an introduction to basics of underwater archaeology. We talked about the UNESCO convention on (underwater) cultural heritage and learned the different ways of measuring objects and structures under water and practiced it on land. Furthermore, we looked at the different methods for surveying, non-destructive techniques including multibeam and side-scan sonar and excavation techniques. All in all, we have had a lot of information to process this week.
We also dove one morning to get acquainted with our diving equipment and familiarize ourselves with how to move around under water. We also practiced some survey techniques under water and tried to take six measurements of a canon that was laying on the bottom of the sea. This proved to be more difficult than I expected. With the moving of the water, the obstacles in the water and your own stability, it is difficult to make sure that the tape straight and located exactly at your control point and the point you want measure in. We’ll practice that more in two weeks and I’m looking forward to getting more experience and get better at it.
It has been a great week. I learned lots of new legislation that I was not familiar with, got acquainted with new techniques and methodology that people use and realized how difficult it is to work under water. I met new people from around the world that are passionate about archaeology and our underwater cultural heritage. Besides that, it has been a lot of fun as well and I’m really enjoying how much energy I get from hanging around all these people that share my passion. And there are three more weeks to come and I’m looking forward to it!

UNESCO Foundation Course

In two weeks from now, I’ll be flying to the Caribbean. I have been invited to participate in a foundation course for the protection and management of underwater cultural heritage, organized by UNESCO. The course will take place between November 17 and December 14 on St. Eustatius, Dutch Caribbean. I lived on that island for almost a year, so this trip will also be a reunion in a way. The island is very small (only 21km2, 8 sq mi), giving it an unique character. I’m really looking forward to it, seeing my friends again, playing soccer on the local field and, of course, diving the beautiful waters around this special island.

The course will be a great opportunity to learn how to deal with cultural materials found underwater and how to protect and/or preserve them. Everyone will immediately envision a beautiful wooden ship, preserved perfectly in the water. Unfortunately, not all materials are preserved that way. Currents and storms, but also chemical reactions and animals affect artefacts under water. Also, taking artefacts out of the water is not always the best solution if you want to preserve them. We’ll learn how we can deal with various factors that affect objects, but also how to document what and how we found it.

Most of the course is theoretical and we’ll have classes at the building of the St. Eustatius Center for Archaeological Research (SECAR), but we’ll be in the water for a week too to practice what we’ve learned. It’ll be an exciting new challenge that combines my passion for diving and archaeology!

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Welcome to my blog! I want to use this space to keep everyone updated on my latest projects, ideas and prospects for the future. It will be a blend of subjects that are of interest of me, that I come across and find worthwhile sharing and posts that triggered me to think in a different way. It is a digital forum to share my personal thoughts and experiences on academic and non-academic topics.