Much better visibility than my last fieldschool

Having participated in a field school in Germany with the University of Southern Denmark my passion of exploration didn’t stop there. The field school happened at the murky water of Schleswig fjord. Despite the really bad visibility we did a great job succeeding to map a submerged wooden construction in the depth of 4m depth. The site dated to the Viking age period and the initial theory was that it is a barrier part of Danevirke fortification. During the field school this predominant theory changed, when more structures were found in the area, making the barrier theory seem more like a port infrastructure. Despite the astonishing results and the hard conditions working in zero visibility I had the feeling that I would like to dive and work in a place that I can see more…

That’s why I’m here at the Mazotos shipwreck, a shipwreck from the 5th c BC carrying a cargo mostly of Chian amphorae. As I am fond of ancient ship construction, this was a big chance to participate in excavating a wreck that still has some wooden parts of the hull preserved on the seabed. The first finds of the shipwreck hull showed a hull joined by pegged mortise and tenons. The keel is partly preserved as well as part of the frames. The main objective of this field school is to dredge the site searching for more of the wooden hull parts to try to have a better understanding of the construction characteristics. What I’m impressed most is the technique of mortise and tenon construction used from the bronze age period (such as the famous wreck Ulu burun) till the classical period such as the Mazotos shipwreck shows, but more work on the site is required.

Hanging out at the deco stop
Hanging out at the deco stop


Today was the second day of the field school, it was pretty hard to wake up at 5:30 in the morning and be on site at 6. The inflatable boat filled three times to transfer all the students and crew to the site. After yesterday’s taster dive, today was a day for hard work. Students divided in two teams giving a feel of friendly competition between the students. All the members of the field school were informed about their tasks and we started after we made sure that everybody understood what they needed to do. The team managed to do 7 dives with 3 or 4 divers per dive (each diver only did one dive today). The first pair of divers went to the water around 8 o’clock. The main objective was to move the blocks close to the new trench that is located on the bow where the wooden part of the ship was found on the last field school. The second team marked the trench at the bow and the middle of the ship. While some of them were cleaning the tags that are still attached on the artefacts. When the trench was determined with the ropes the third team took pictures and marked the control points.

Then was my turn to dive, way too hard to wear your dry suit when the air temperature is 35c. I went to the water carrying a hammer and two plastic tubes. My buddies were carrying plastic tubes and tools that would help us to hammer the tubes for the fixed points. Despite the nitrogen narcosis we managed to hammer 6 of these while the rest of the team focused on cleaning the tags on the pottery remains and collected tags that they found loose on the seabed. The objective of the next team was to finished our job and they put on the seabed the rest of the tubes. Subsequent dives then focused on photogrammetry.

The dives have finished for today but still we had a lot of things to do. We manage to drop a second air lift dredger that is way too long and heavy. Most of the preparation work on site is finished and the team is excited to excavate over the next days.

Site plans against each other
Site plans against each other

After the end of the morning sessions all the students got ready for the afternoon classes. Most of us were way too tired and I myself had a strong headache. The afternoon class was drawing up a site using trilateration and offset methods. Despite the fact I have been taught these methods in the past I was very happy to use them again as I have almost forgotten everything.

The day closed with very nice traditional Greek food at the best restaurant of Mazotos village. Everybody was very happy and full after the dinner.

Written by Christos Iliadis


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