Underwater Archaeology

  • Created by: ktommo
  • Created on: 21-05-17 13:52
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  • Underwater Archaeology
    • Excavators usually require extra equipment, such as watertight diving suits, air tanks and weights.
    • In extreme depths, remotely controlled vehicles may need to be used if human cannot be exposed to the pressure.
    • Cold temperatures make it difficult to stay still for very long.
    • Poor visibility may mean you have to excavate by feeling things as opposed to seeing them.
    • A form of sampling is almost always used to inform archaeologists of which excavation strategy to use.
    • Removing spoil can sometimes be done using a combination of hand movements and water dispersal (wafting).
    • Special techniques are needed for underwater archaeology.
      • A water lance is used to shred sediment using a powerful jet of water dispersed from a tube. However, this can damage the archaeology.
      • Using a range of water vacuum cleaners such as dredges and airlifts can help excavate spoil and keep sediment away for recording.
    • Artefacts may have suffered from corrosion and created concretions which need to be broken up.
    • Ordinary finds are placed in open containers, where as fragile finds re placed in sealed containers. Large finds are lifted using inflated air bags.
    • If organic material is found, it is susceptible to damage if it is allowed to dry out, even briefly.
    • Underwater recording methods are largely similar to recording methods on dry sites, but using different materials.
      • Plastic 2x2 or 4x4 metre recording grids are set out and usual methods are used, for example planning, context sheets and photogrammetry.
      • Synthetic paper allows normal pens to be used underwater.
      • Photography is more limited than on dry sites due to poor visibility, so it is likely to be limited to close up shots or carefully rigged photogrammetry,
    • Archaeologists can move freely about the site without disturbing or standing on excavations.


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