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!