Last summer, I received a Platt Foundation Fellowship to return for the third season of the Mazotos Shipwreck Excavation in Cyprus. The 18-m long cargo vessel went down a few decades before the Kyrenia, during the Late Classical Period (mid-fourth c. BC). Previous years had exposed three lead anchor stocks and sections of preserved hull and keel wood at the bow. Last year, we were to start excavating the stern, and since ship timbers are an important part of my research, I was anxious to get back. However, at that point, I was in the third year of my PhD at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium) and “in between” funding opportunities. I am so grateful to have received one of the fellowships because, besides being a stowaway, there is no way that I would have been able to return to the project without it.
Probably like many other recipients, I used the fellowship to pay for my round-trip airfare and food during my stay in Cyprus. But there are several other expenses associated with underwater archaeology. SCUBA proudly boasts of its status as an “equipment-intensive sport,” and properly maintained equipment is what makes diving possible, let alone safe. So I was also able to pay for annual, routine maintenance on my diving equipment. (This helped ensure that I’d be able to use the “round” part of that plane ticket.) And because the excavation takes place at over 40 m below sea level and we use special gas blends, our dives are considered “technical,” so we also have to purchase extra health insurance every year to account for the extra risks associated with technical diving. All of this makes it sound like what we’re doing is very dangerous, but we take every possible safety precaution because as a team, we know that a dive that isn’t safe isn’t productive either.
During last year’s field season, we excavated the stern and surfaced some examples of the crew’s fine ware pottery, one of which still bears its owner’s initials after 2400 years underwater. These and other personal items are one of the primary factors that will tell us who was manning the ship when she met her fate. We also exposed even more of the ship’s preserved timbers, but this was achieved just days before the end of the season. This year, we will investigate these timbers further, which will hopefully shed light on where the ship was built, or at least where its timbers may have originated. I’m already excited to peel back the sandbags and tarps and get started again on excavating one of the Eastern Mediterranean’s most exciting and promising archaeological discoveries underwater.
You can read Sara’s previous blog entry here.
As you know, ASOR’s mission is to support archaeology in the Near East, and now we have an exciting opportunity for you to support students of archaeology directly! Every year ASOR gives out around 30 Platt and Heritage Fellowships to deserving students to defray the costs of excavating in the Near East. Thanks to last year’s March Fellowship Madness drive we gave out a total of 42 scholarships and we are trying to beat that number this year.
Our goal is to raise $10,000, and if we succeed, two generous donors will give funding for four additional fellowships, meaning a total of 14 additional students will get funding this year! Help us seize this opportunity to send more students into the field! Donate now!
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