Studying maritime archaeology in Esbjerg: the second semester

Time flies, and the second semester of the Maritime Programme in Esbjerg is almost over! This second semester consisted of four courses:

  • Maritime Material Culture
  • IT & Remote Sensing
  • Preparation for the field school
  • Special Topics

Maritime Material Culture
During this course, we got introduced to different maritime material cultures from the Stone Age to the present day. We learned all about material such as pottery, cannons, anchors and many other objects. To learn more about ceramics from the Mediterranean our class went to Odense, where they have a big collection of Mediterranean artefacts. Also an important part of this course was ship construction from different centuries and areas. We went to the Roskilde Viking museum to learn more about Viking ship construction, and about experimental archaeology. We got a very interesting presentation on the famous ship burial Oseberg, which was found in Norway and dates to around 820 AD. After that we got a tour through the boat building wharf, and had a chance to look at the five Skuldelev ships inside the museum. In June we are going to sail on one of the reconstructed Viking ships!

Photo 1
Nicole looking at some Egyptian ceramics.

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We got an explanation on experimental archaeology during the tour of the boat building wharf.

IT & Remote Sensing
This course is a continuation of the methods course in the first semester, and is more practical. During this course we learned how to work with the software QGIS and with Inkscape. We learned how to make logos and how to digitalize field drawings in Inkscape, and how to analyse data and make maps with QGIS. Part of the course was a visit to Schleswig, where we could see how a sub-bottom profiler works, and how to do a survey with such a device. With a sub-bottom profiler, it is possible to detect archaeological sites and wrecks partially or wholly embedded in the sea-floor sediments. Unfortunately, nothing was found during this expedition. While we were in Schleswig, we got time to check out the early 4th century Nydam boat, which is on display in the Gottorp castle. It was much more impressive in real-life than you would expect. The boat is well over 23 m long and there was place for 30 rowers. This boat is one of the earliest examples of clinker (overlapping planks) construction.

Photo 4
The sub-bottom profiler in action, the data that is received can be seen on the monitor.
18-01-Gottorf
The Nydam boat at the Gottorp castle.

Field school
The field school this year takes place in June in northern Germany. We are going to record a 16th century carvel-built ship. To prepare for this field school we made a plan which details how we are going to clean, dive and record the shipwreck. Next school year, after the field school is done, we have to make a report of the recording.

Special Topics
Special Topics is a course, which is focused on the field school. In order to better ‘understand’ the 16th century shipwreck, we have researched shipbuilding construction from around the same time period. The class has been divided into different groups for this, and each group is looking into shipwrecks from a specific region. The different groups are: British Isles, Baltic Sea, Dutch, Mediterranean and French. Guess what we did.. A database has been created in which the different construction elements of each of these shipwrecks have been saved, and a summary has been written for each shipwreck. Once the shipwreck has been recorded this database can be used to compare the construction elements to those from other shipwrecks.

Photo 6
The Riberhus castle ruins.

Besides the courses, we are also part of the Maritime Archaeology Society Esbjerg (MASE), which is a student organization by students from the Maritime Programme. For MASE we are trying to organize as many things as possible for our program, mainly maritime related, which is hard because we are really busy with the courses and self-study. So far we organised a party, several film nights and a little excursion to the Ribe Viking museum, and we also visited the ruins of Riberhus castle. In May we are going to the International Viking market in Ribe, which will take place in the Ribe Viking Center. Reenactors recreate an authentic Viking market there. We are looking forward to that, and after the field school we will let you know how it was!

Robert & Nicole

Over Maritiem Programma

Het Maritiem Programma van de Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed houdt zich bezig met het onderzoek naar scheepswrakken, bruggen, havens en andere maritieme landschappen. Het doel is om kennis, onderzoek, beleid, samenwerking en educatie op het gebied van maritiem erfgoed in Nederland een stevige basis te geven. Het programma loopt van 2012 tot en met 2015.

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