Week One

The week following Scientific Diver Training was a great success.  All students from the first half of field school performed very well as first time underwater archaeologists.  In the morning at Marine Services, the students were given a brief of the day’s archaeological operations and assigned to their supervisors.  The students were then given directions as to what was needed for the day’s dives, and set about their tasks with enthusiasm.  All students assigned to work on E.P. II were given a brief of what was expected of them, and also what they could expect to encounter on site.  The weather was a bit windy en route to the dive barge, but the supervisors felt it was safe enough for dive operations to proceed.

Once the dive brief was given, groups were assigned to participate in safety drills aboard the barge and boats.  Afterward, the supervisors set about placing excavation units in the stern and mid-ship section of E.P. II.  The weather kicked up in the afternoon, so the students and supervisors quickly secured all the gear and left the barge to head back to MSC.  The next day the students were assigned to their respective dive operations and were given instructions on what was needed for archaeological investigations.  Once the boats and vehicles had the proper equipment, we all made our way to our respective archaeological excavations.  The group was divided into those going to E.P. II, in Pensacola Bay, and a smaller number heading out to the Blackwater River to dive and map the Swingbridge wreck.

My group headed to E.P. II.  Our arrival at the barge was challenging due to windy conditions, but all operations were a go.  Once on board, the students set up the barge and were given a quick refresher on what was expected of them and what they could expect as well.  The teams geared up quickly and awaited the order to enter the water for their site orientation dive.  Once we made sure the excavation units were secure and in the correct position, all teams entered the water.  The visibility was not great and the current was making the descent to the site challenging, but all divers performed well and saw what they could of a 16th century Spanish shipwreck!

Again, the fickle Florida weather drove us from the site, all staff and students made a safe return to MSC.  The following day the teams split up, some going to E.P. II, others to the Swingbridge wreck.  Those that were assigned to E.P. II were given a chance to open up the units and begin to excavate.  Several artifacts were recovered from the dredge spoil, which included resin, non-human bone, ceramic, a seed, and a possible wooden bead.  Weather forecasting in Florida being what it is, we again were caught by the wind in the afternoon and forced to abandon operations.  All staff and students made it safely off the barge and back to Marine Services.  The first week of Maritime archaeology field school came to a close, and the students had a chance to work as underwater archaeologists.

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