CMAUCH Training Bursary - Asmaa Elsayed Kamel - Basic Underwater Archaeology Course 2021

Asmaa Elsayed Kamel was awarded a bursary through the CMAUCH Training Bursary scheme to attend the 2021 Basic Underwater Archaeology Course in Zadar, Croatia. Below is a report from Asmaa

During the period from 30 August to 10 September 2021, I was part of the Basic Underwater Archaeology Course, which was held in the International Centre for Underwater Archaeology in Zadar, Croatia, The course consists of theoretical and practical Parts in underwater documentation and archaeological excavation, and aims to increase the knowledge of basic underwater archaeology research techniques.

During the course period, we had a daily lecture from each instructor at ICUA Zadar presenting about the underwater cultural heritage of Croatia, the UNESCO convention Rules and how they apply them in the excavations, Methodology of underwater archaeology, 2D drawing documentation, conservation, and restoration of underwater finds.

The practical part was done on different underwater archaeological sites, practicing photogrammetry, navigation, and doing exercises on land and underwater. and the acquired skills of finding and positioning the site, concentrating on the process of documenting archaeological finds using several fixed points, measuring tapes, and a compass.

This course was an ideal opportunity for me in many aspects, to observe, learn and practice all the significant differences between underwater archaeological sites and underwater archaeological work that need to be done.

On the archaeological side, I was able to dive on different sites, I was part of the archaeological research of a post-medieval ballast pile in Brbinj on the island of Dugi Otok at the Pod Narat site, which was an actual project for the ICUA. During that fieldwork I had the opportunity to sharpen my observation skills, I found several artefacts (animals bones, porcelain fragments, glass, flint, pipe pieces with stamps …). Moreover, excavating a ballast pile using water dredges and documenting, doing photogrammetry, classifying the finds and taking pictures for the finds, was a totally new experience for me.

For the diving skills, at the beginning of the course I have trained on mastering buoyancy and navigation according to the SSI association by Sasa Stipanic one of the ICUA instructor’s team, I was introduced to the frog kick technique, which was a must use during the excavation in order to not disturb the site and limit the impact on the diving environment and preserve delicate reefs and habitats.