Monday, June 21, 2010

Week 5 June 14-18, 2010

June 14-15, 2010
By: David Hodo

At the beginning of this week, students and supervisors from the field school conducted dives on the Emanuel Point II shipwreck, the B-Street Schooner, and conducted survey training. On EPII half of the divers worked in the stern section and the other half in the amidships. Students recovered a large piece of an olive jar rim (seen below) in the amidships during the morning along with ballast stones during the afternoon. Four students conducted survey training with Greg Cook using the side scan sonar unit. Several anomalies were found during the training. Unfortunately, the mouse malfunctioned before training was completed and will have to be repaired. Over at B-street six students were involved in dredging operations. The work uncovered a rim sherd from a plate, the base of a medium size bowl or jar and a large number of tacks and nails of assorted sizes.  
(Olive jar rim fragmant from EPII.)

 On Tuesday, the waterways were all closed since President Obama was visiting the beaches so we were not able to dive on our usual wrecks. Instead, we went over to Mobile, AL and visited the Battleship Memorial Park. They had called us previously inquiring if we would be interested in searching for a couple of torpedo doors that had fallen off in the recovery of the USS Drum. They wanted to use as much of the original metal as possible, which is highly commendable seeing as it’s much more work for them to make such an effort.  We all received a tour of the aviation museum and then got to go inside the USS Drum.  We then looked around the outside of the submarine to get an idea of what we’d be looking for in the water. We had two teams of three people diving offshore to look for the doors.  The method we used was a typical circle search with a probe, as well as the use of our underwater metal detector.

On the first dive, we did not find anything pertinent. However, the second dive was a bit more promising. The divers found two long sheets of metal that may be the torpedo doors that we were looking for. We did not pull any of it up, but we did buoy the metal for a future reference point when we had the proper materials to recover them. While the teams were diving, the rest of us were free to check out the other attractions there, which included touring the USS Alabama. This was a very interesting experience, especially since everything has been so well preserved and set up for the public.
Upper picture: Students walk into Mobile Bay to begin metal detecting and circle searches.  
Above: The USS Alabama overlooking our dive site.

Wednesday, ten students and supervisors were assigned dredging work on Emanuel Point II. Shortly after setting up the dredge, a thunderstorm came into the bay from the south. All work was stopped. Equipment was stored on the barge or loaded on the boats for return to the Marine Services Center. On the B-Street Schooner, students and supervisors were dredging in the bow of the ship. After initially setting up the dredge, a thunderstorm arrived, forcing us to tear down the equipment and return to the Marine Services Center.  Students on survey encountered the same fate. Six students and supervisors were assigned training to use side scan sonar and magnetometers to locate new anomalies. The group attended a two-hour class and then took a boat to Pensacola Bay. By the time, they arrived at their survey site, the incoming thunderstorm canceled their training and they were forced to return to the Marine Services Center. After lunch, the entire Maritime Field School students received training and certification on the administration of oxygen for diving accidents at the Marine Services Center.

June 16-18, 2010
By: Robin Hardy

Thursday, the weather forecast was looking stormy and bleak so we decided to have a lab day instead of trying to best Mother Nature.  Our lab day consisted mostly of paperwork; we worked on documenting the artifacts that we had found on our sites and organizing them a little bit for future research needs. We cleaned up the backroom of the lab since there will be a new counter and vent hood being put in soon. We were also able to x-ray some concretions in order to see if there was anything inside of them. One of the gudgeons we x-rayed showed a very clear hole where a fastener would have been used, and what we believe to be a rigging ring was shown as being solid metal so we know now that we can use the electrolysis method on it for conservation and research purposes.

On Friday, students at the wreck of the B Street Schooner initially set up the dredge and started dredging in the bow area. This excavation was a continuation of several days’ prior work. Two 2-person teams excavated and recovered several concretions and two bags of dredge spoil for us to sort through at the end of the day. With dredging we were able to reach the keelson in the bow of the B Street Schooner. Back on EPII ten students excavated units in the amidships and the stern. Prior to this, our units in the stern had to be reset due to the anchoring system of the barge dislodging the units and the baseline. Once we had the units and baseline back in place students excavated and recovered more olive jar sherds in the amidships. Students learning survey today got to use the sub-bottom profiler. They analyzed the area of the Emmanuel Point I shipwreck and a few other areas away from the barge. We also had a journalist and photographer come out and interview our field school for UWF.

Above: A student puts on a mesh bag on the dredge to collect artifacts.

Upon returning to Marine Services, our field school was treated to a wonderful smoked chicken lunch by the MSC personnel. Friends and staff from the Anthropology Department also came and ate lunch with us.  It was a good end for the first session. After Monday next week, the students will switch with the other combine field students and learn about terrestrial archaeology while maritime gets students who just finished the terrestrial half.

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