Monday, 7 July 2008

Archeological excavation at Pakoštane, Croatia

Month and a half ago (13.5) I went to en archeological excavation of an ancient ship found near the town of Pakostane in Croatia. Naturally, I went there as a photographer.

The team was part Croatian, part French and another archeologist from Greece. We stayed there for a bit more than two weeks.

The ship itself is from around 300AD iirc and was very old in that time because she has many lead patches and couple of relatively new wood frames. One of the more interesting things about this ship is the fact that the whole keel is missing which is odd. I heard couple of theories on to what happened to the ship. The most convincing one tells that the ship was probably burned in a ceremony (of good fortune) similar to the one still practiced on one of our islands. What is the evidence for that?

1. the ship was very old so it was probably leaking all the time and economically not really feasible.

2. archeologists found many pieces of tree branches which were carbonised and also they found parts of the ship which are carbonised too.

3. the water line was much lower, probably 4-6m. As one geologist there said that the average water level in 2000 years rised for around 2 meters. But on this part of the Adriatic (or at least Pakostane) the water level was even lower because there was large tectonic disturbances approximately every 200 years. So we can conclude that the ship was probably on the shore line because now it is on the depth of 2.5m.

4. small lead spheres were found which indicates that part of the lead patches melted.

5. grass seeds were found in the soil indicating that the ship was on or near the grass at the time.

The excavation and documentation was to me (first timer on an archeological excavation) very slow and I found out there that the ship was found in 2004 and this was, I think, third excavation to date. In this 3 weeks they uncovered the last parts of the wreck.

The team itself was great. I actually never worked with french people before, and I had some reservations which were quickly dispelled at the moment I met the team. Croatian part was good and was much boosted with the help of archeologists from the university of Zadar. French team was great, very friendly, helpful and hardworking.

My job there was to photograph every find archeologists found at the site, all the phases of work (both below and above the sea level) and to do some photographs of the surroundings (the town etc). At first at home, I thought it would be relatively easy because after a dive I would just delete the bad pictures, copy the rest to an official computer and my working day is finished. Boy was I wrong! The dives itself lasted for around 2 hours. Then after the dive I was regulary assigned to be a security person (aka the loser who is baked on the sun laying on the rubber boat and transferring people off the site to the shore and vice versa) for at least 2 hours. Wasted, when you came to the apartment, I had to wash and dry the camera housing and flashes (actually I did this between the dive and the security role), transfer all the photos to the laptop (there were around 200+ of them), and then all the fun started. First I had to delete bad photos, then put each of the new finding in each separate folder, then pick photos which represent the phases of work, then, all the best photos go in the third folder, then some additional photos in this folder and some other photos in that folder... It was plenty of work to occupy me for the whole evening until I wasted and went to sleep. Things complicated a bit when I found out I could make great "panorama" photos of the site. But it was hard work in photoshop and to render single panorama, photoshop needed at least 15minutes. And after 15min. I could find out that images I provided to the photoshop were no good for making panorama... So I had to do all thing all over again. In the morning just before the briefing I copied all the pictures to the official computer.

I could write a book about this excavation but I won't bore you or myself with doing it so. Just enjoy the photo gallery.

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