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!