Tag Archives: Nicole Schoute

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.
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

Studying Abroad: Maritime Archaeology in Denmark

Hello everyone, we’re Robert de Hoop and Nicole Schoute from the Netherlands. In June we got our bachelor’s degree in Archaeology at Saxion University of Applied Sciences (Deventer). During the 4 years that we studied there, we got really interested in maritime archaeology. There is however no integrated academic degree programme for maritime archaeology at any Dutch university. To become a professional maritime archaeologist you have to go abroad to obtain a degree. We decided to do this at the University of Southern Denmark. In the next two years we will keep you updated on the programme here, the diving course that we will be following and about moving to and living in Denmark.

Figure 1
Part of our class during the second introduction day in Ribe

The Maritime Archaeology Programme (MAP) at the University of Southern Denmark is based in Esbjerg, the 5th largest city of Denmark, on the Danish North Sea coast. The programme is internationally oriented and all teaching is conducted in English.  MAP is a two-year master programme that was created with employability in mind. That is why the course is structured around skills which are necessary in the fields of heritage management, consultancy and archaeological contract work. Education is free in Denmark, which is why the maritime archaeology masters course is free of charge for students from European Union/EEA countries. Only students from outside the EU/EEA are charged an annual tuition fee. At the University of Southern Denmark students also have the opportunity to obtain an internationally-recognised commercial SCUBA diving qualification at relatively low cost. As an approved commercial diving school, the masters programme can issue the Danish “SCUBA erhvervsdykker” certificate (equivalent to HSE SCUBA).

Figure 2
The school entrance of the University of Southern Denmark

Before the classes started there were a couple of introduction days. The first introduction day we had a barbeque. During this barbeque we met most of our classmates and some other international students. Our class consists of 15 people and is comprised of a lot of nationalities: American, Spanish, Greek, Dutch, Scottish, Canadian and Danish people.

The second introduction day we went with all our classmates to Ribe, which is the oldest town in Denmark. We’ve got some information there about the Archaeology Society Esbjerg (MASE) and about the diving course. MASE is a student run group for the students of the Maritime Archaeology Programme at the University of Southern Denmark. They take on all different kind of projects in their spare time. Every student can join and help out on these projects. We’ll definitely be doing that as well to get more experience during the programme. Right now MASE is doing a survey in the river Ribe Å, which runs through Ribe, where we got to take a look. The point of this survey is to find the harbour construction that should have been here in the Viking age.

Figure 3
The river Ribe Å where the diving survey is taking place

After we visited the site, we headed to the Vikings Museum of Ribe. We got a tour through Ribe and were told all about the history of this old town. After the tour we all headed back to Esbjerg, where we met in the Dive Lab, which is close to the student housing. This is a lab especially for the divers and the dive students. Wood from shipwrecks is preserved here and the drysuits and other technical stuff for diving is been stored here. The day ended with another barbeque, for all the new Maritime Archaeology students.

Figure 4
The tour in Ribe

The next day began with an introduction on the University where we got an explanation about  all things that have to be taken care of when you move to Denmark, like a residence permit and CPR-number (your civil registration number). More information and tips about this aspect will follow in a later blog.

On Tuesday the 1st of September our classes started with an introduction by Thijs Maarleveld, one of our professors. We also met the other professors there and were told all about the programme. This semester we’ll get the following courses:

  • Archaeology and Management
  • Introduction to Methods in Maritime Archaeology
  • Man and Sea

In the next blog we will give an overview of these classes and what can be expected from them. Also we’ll be talking more in depth about the diving course. Until next time!


Robert de Hoop & Nicole Schoute