Maritime Archaeology Updates

Diving Deeper with the Maritime Archaeology Trust

Tag: discovery

Qatar Marine Archaeological Project (QatarMAP)

The Qatar archaeological research and exploration project built on the work undertaken by the Qatar Museums to locate and record the submerged cultural heritage. The aim of underwater fieldwork was to begin condition surveys of known submerged marine archaeological heritage sites. The results will enhance the maritime Historic Environment Record with the additional benefit of making the underwater heritage resource more accessible to the Qatari population.

Rendered photomosaic of 50m long wreck recorded during the first week of diving

In the long term, areas of the sea bed will be surveyed to locate and identify more of Qatar’s underwater cultural heritage which includes submerged landscapes as well as shipwrecks. The Maritime Archaeology Trust (MAT) is working with the University of York, the Qatar Museums and Qatar University on the Qatar Maritime Archaeology Project (QatarMAP) to carry out these marine archaeological investigations. MAT divers visited Qatar in early May and diving from the dive boat Janan, with the help of divers from the Qatar University, carried out photographic survey over some shipwreck sites to produce 3D photomosaics which were calibrated with measuring scales positioned at different locations.

Diver from the Maritime Archaeology Trust conducting a 3D photomosaic survey on debris at the gravel pile

The MAT dive team are now back in Qatar to continue the work. Along with continued processing of data collected during the first week’s visit, testing and checking of geophysical equipment has been taking place until the bad weather abates which is likely to be this evening.

Menhir de la Tremblais

Near the village of Saint-Samson-sur-Rance, in Brittany, France, we find this interesting Neolithic piece of stone.

Pierre Longue menhir of Thiemblaye

The menhir stands alone at 6 meters in length, leaning at just over  45 degrees. It is a large block of granite and quartz, with a relatively polished, flat look.

Most of the time that is all it seems to be. However, when the sun hits it just right, beautiful markings and carvings appear. Carvings of crosses, leaves, axes, waves and various animals.

 

There are several legends surrounding this monument. One legend says it is one of three stones closing the entrance to hell. This belief gave it the name “Bonde de l’Enfer,” loosely meaning “Leap From Hell.”

Another legend says that a young girl who wants to get married should climb on top of the menhir and slide down in her “birth pants.” Subsequently, she will be wed within a year.

A final legend tells a story of Samson of Dol who faced the temptations of the Devil nearby, and when the Devil failed, it whipped the stone, creating some of the marks we can see today.

 

 

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Forgotten Wrecks of the Devon Coast: Geophysics and Diving

WholeAreaMap

Distribution of First World War wrecks within the Devon study area (image credit: Contains public sector information, licensed under the Open Government Licence v2.0, from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency).

As part of the Forgotten Wrecks project this summer the Maritime Archaeology Trust sent out a team of divers to find and document a number of WW1 wrecks off the South Devon Coast. In order to assist the divers in finding these wrecks bathymetric maps were consulted. Much like navigational charts used by mariners these maps show the topographic features of the seafloor. However, modern techniques such as multibeam bathymetry, paint a far higher resolution image of the seafloor with measurements made every few metres.  As a result, even fine details such as the orientation of shipwrecks and the positions of larger objects such as boilers and anchors on these sites, can be seen.

Within the area surveyed by the Maritime Coastguard Agency between 2012 and 2015 (data freely available from aws2.caris.com) 31 of the 48 wrecks which had been identified as lying within the south Devon study area reviewed ahead of diving operations were visible.

Once identified a zoomed in map was created of each wreck. The examples shown here are of the British Navy trawler, the Benton Castle and cargo ship, the Newholm. Both of which sank after hitting mines, leading to the loss of 30 lives in total. These images and images of the other wrecks were used by the diving team to help select individual sites to dive and then plan their dives more effectively.

BentonCastle_geophysics

Geophysical survey image of the Benton Castle (image credit: Contains public sector information, licensed under the Open Government Licence v2.0, from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency).

Newholm_geophysics

Geophysical survey image of the Newholm (image credit: Contains public sector information, licensed under the Open Government Licence v2.0, from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency).

The dive team operated out of Dartmouth using Falcon Diving Charters (http://falcondivingcharters.com/) during the week of 27th June to the 1st July. Despite some challenging weather conditions the team managed to reach a number of the Forgotten Wrecks to undertake survey and photogrammetric recording.

Written by Amelia Astley

To find out more about the Forgotten Wrecks of the First World War project, click here.

Newholme_site_photo

Diver photographs detail of the wreck structure of the Newholm.

Benton_Castle_site_photo

Marine life encrusts the remains of the wreck of the Benton Castle.

 

Across the Seas: ‘The Idol’, Peña Tú Asturias

Previously we have discussed some 3D-images of  French megaliths. The following 3D image is of a Neolithic stone shelter in Spain.

Located in the beautiful Sierra Plana de la Borbolla, at Llanes in Asturias, Northern Spain, ‘The Idol’ is a neolithic rock shelter which has preserved wonderful examples of prehistoric art.

The rock has been known by local inhabitants for a long time, but it was not until 1914 the first archaeological  investigations took place. ‘The Idol’ can be interpreted as a human form, featuring eyes, nose and feet wrapped in a cloth or robe. It might have represented a tribal elder or warrior, indicated by the adjacent dagger motif, thus making it likely that is was a funerary monument.

The images show crosses, demonstrating the site’s later Christianisation. In addition, we can find a faint animal motif and several red forms throughout.

It is likely that ‘The Idol’ is part of a series of sites dispersed across the region that are almost certainly connected with a wider common culture, stretching from Ireland to Scandinavia to Tunisia, in the Neolithic.

The site was surveyed by drone and Land Rover Defender.

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Bouldnor Cliff: A World Class Site

Mohamed Ziad

Mohamed and Ziad

Bouldnor Cliff isn’t just important from a British perspective: it is a unique site that interests people from all over the world! The diving team included archaeologists from the Maritime Archaeology Trust and even two divers who’d traveled all the way from Egypt to help with the work and see the remains of the Mesolithic settlement. Ziad and Mohamed flew to Britain when volunteers were needed to join the Bouldnor Cliff survey, and came to help with the photogrammetry work around the site. They’ve done work all around the world, including in Montenegro, Lebanon, Egypt and Italy, but this was their first time diving in the U.K.

Ready for that renowned British summer, Ziad and Mohamed joined the team on the boat, keen to explore the famous site. Undeterred by the wind and rain of the first day (it is summer, after all), they were ready to get stuck in and brave the chilly Solent. Layered up and as prepared as can be for the colder climate they jumped in to get to work. The cold was no match for their enthusiasm and they worked hard, familiarising themselves with the site and the new conditions.

And what did they have to say after their first dive? Ziad had only one word: ‘challenge’!

Now used to the cold and the weather, they carried on diving on the site, contributing hundreds of photos to the photogrammetric survey, and taking footage on a GoPro. Their dedication is such that the skipper even poured warm water into their wetsuits before a dive! Inspired by Ziad’s one-word summary, Mohamed described the site as an ‘adventure’.

Ziad and Mohamed aren’t the only members of the #SaveBouldnor team from abroad – Sarah is from the United States, and Miguel is a PhD student from Lisbon, Portugal. Sarah works at the Maritime Archaeology Trust, and considers the site to be ‘groundbreaking’!

Miguel came to Bouldnor Cliff to gain experience in a new environment, and to improve his skills in 3D reconstruction and recording. Miguel described the site as ‘exciting’ and has contributed a lot of work to the photographic record.

It’s not just maritime archaeologists who find Bouldnor Cliff fascinating – Andy has worked closely with the Trust for fifteen years. He finds the site ‘remarkable’, and, as a long-time diving enthusiast, is helping out on-site.

Bouldnor Cliff is a special site that is always turning up new information and fascinating artefacts. It has something of interest for people from all over the world, from different backgrounds, and this multi-national team has come together to work to save Bouldnor, and learn its secrets. Work like this is invaluable, and will contribute to the continuing record of Bouldnor Cliff, as the MAT monitor the site’s condition and explore new features.

Bouldnor Cliff #3 – Sunken Secrets

This is the last video before we go out diving!

This time Garry is visiting the Sunken Secrets Museum on the Isle of Wight. He shows us various pieces of timber, flint and string that has taught us a lot about the people living here during the mesolithic era. The findings are proving to be highly important, because they show the people were way more advanced than previously thought, by as much as 2000 years.

 

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Bouldnor Cliff #2 – past findings and discoveries

Our second video is out!

This time Sara Rich shows us some timber from earlier Bouldnor excavations and tells us what we can learn from them.

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Why is Bouldnor Cliff so special?

In 1999, whilst out diving, MAT discovered what we know as Bouldnor Cliff by the Isle of Wight. This used to be a highly populated area of land. Ever since the discovery there have been ongoing excavations and investigations to uncover the complex life of the people living on this piece of land during the mesolithic era, about 8000 years ago.

Bouldnor Cliff Excavation

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