Jack of All Trades

Monday, July 18 2016 Written by
As another week comes to an end in Biscayne National Park, I've found myself assuming different roles in underwater archeology aside from diving.  Without a doubt, perhaps the most appealing part of this career is scuba diving a shipwreck that hasn't been seen by humans for a few hundred years, and possibly discovering something that changes history; human exploration and understanding.  After all, shipping was the most important form of transportation for millennia, so who knows what remains on the ocean floor and waits to be discovered. However, believe it or not, the majority of time spent in the job takes place off the water more than on the water. As a result, a tremendous amount of research is conducted to not only locate a potential site, but also to interpret the artifacts found at one afterwards.  For instance, if one finds a cannon ball with a broad arrow stamped upon it is indicative of a British man of war.  Armed with this information, archeologists can then narrow their research to British Navy ships that wrecked in the area and hopefully conclude which ship they've uncovered.  Research and writing might be the most time consuming aspect of underwater archeology.  Consider that we have spent the past two weeks uncovering and then reburying a shipwreck, but will spend the next 6 months interpreting and researching might be able to provide better insight.  Not only are we conducting research, but we have to able to create a plan that we cannot refer to a manual for guidance, because they simply do not exist. Every site is different.  We then have to plan for things such as a dive at a certain depth, bringing specific tools because of the benthic composition, and even making your own tools if they don't exist already.  I was tasked this past week to create some markers in preparation for the Submerged Resources Center arrival so that they could be used for Diving with a Purpose next week.  As a result, I spent many hours in the park's wood shop crafting markers to be used underwater so the site boundaries can be marked for the divers.  I also made buoys that will mark the area so it can be seen from the surface.  Not only did my carpentry skills get used, I did some metalwork as well.  Earlier in the week our dredge was bent and the hose going to the head fell off.  The metal was bent so severely that the hose was no longer able to stay on the pipe so I was tasked with fixing it.  After heating the metal, bending it, and grinding it back down, the problem was solved and our dredge was back in business.  Altogether, the life of an underwater archeologist assumes many roles.  As you can see, from researcher, planner, team leader, to working in a wood or metal shop, we wear numerous hats in order to get the job done, often with little resources.  When the countless hours of research, planning, and sweat culminate to the discovery of human heritage, it is all worth it in the end. [caption id="attachment_7165" align="alignnone" width="199"]Screening for artifacts Screening for artifacts[/caption] [caption id="attachment_7164" align="alignnone" width="225"]Filling Tanks Filling Tanks[/caption] ipv-D016ACD4-FBAB-408A-AB1F-BA00411F4830.mp4-1  Metal fabricating the dredge
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