This is the first blog of our field campaign in the Oostvoornse meer (Oostvoorne lake). In the next two weeks we will keep you posted on the work that will be done on the bottom of this former sea arm, the entrance to the harbour of Rotterdam.
Our first job is to do a significance assessment on the shipwreck OVM 12. OVM is derived from Oostvoornse meer. We have no clue yet what the type of ship was and what cargo it carried. In about a week we will also go to another site, the OVM 10. On this site two wrecks are possibly lying next to one another. Also here we will do a significance assessment, but another important aim is the organisation of a fieldschool for underwater archaeology. This is what the Maritime Program organises each year in order to give students the opportunity to specialise in this field of archaeology to gain hands on experience.
So, two significance assessments and one fieldschool will be the aim of this field campaign. But there is another one: the development of new methods and the implementation of new techniques in underwater archaeology. During this fieldwork campaign we will test for example the use of film and 3D photogrammetry software (Agisoft Photoscan) for the quick mapping of archaeological sites underwater.
Up until now we still used datum points, tape measurements and site recorders to map the seabed. High detail requires an enormous amount of measurements and thus time underwater. For deeper sites, like the OVM 12 that is lying at almost 40 meters, this is too much of a challenge especially if we compare this to the time we would need and the budgets we have. We are really looking forward to the results.
Last year – in the field campaign of 2014, Oostvoornse meer – we did our first test runs with the GoPro images and the Agisoft software as part of the thesis of Thomas van Damme, student at the University of Southern Denmark. At that time it worked really well. The sites OVM 14 and OVM 8 however, were not lying as deep as the OVM1.
This field campaign, just as the one in 2014 is part of a larger effort to investigate the cultural significance of the wrecks in the Oostvoornse meer and the possible use of these sites for heritage awareness. A vision is being developed at the moment for the whole Oostvoornse meer commissioned by the municipality of Westvoorne. At the moment the Oostvoornse meer is lacking any attraction, while its strategic position, just outside of the biggest city in the Netherlands, Rotterdam and near the Maasvlakte 1 and 2, offers many possibilities for development. The suggestion has been put forward to try to develop the area especially for the sports diving community and to offer them facilities, like attractive recreation opportunities under, as well as above water. The wrecks might be interesting locations for these sportdivers. In this way the Oostvoornse meer might become a place where sites with high archaeological value are preserved in situ, but opened for divers to visit: in other words an underwater museum.
There is only one problem… salinity… more about this tomorrow. So keep connected to our blog and you will see what we are doing!
Robert de Hoop (intern Maritime Program)
Martijn Manders (Head of the Maritime Program)