My journey to Mazotos

As a participant of the field school I was asked to write today’s blog page. Being given this task made me reflect and consider what motivated me to come to Cyprus and to participate in the Mazotos Project?

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Sieving amphora contents for clues to what they may have contained…

Being able to participate in such a project as the Mazotos wreck is the fulfilment of a lifelong dream. As a child I grew up in a small fishing village called Isle Aux Morts on the southwest coast of Newfoundland in Canada. When I was 10 years old a local diver discovered a shipwreck near my home town and recovered from it a Portuguese astrolabe with the date 1628 clearly stamped in it. That summer underwater archaeologists came to town and spent two months working on the wreck recovering artefacts. The archaeologists put these artefacts on display in our community centre for the whole village to see. I was awestruck by the entire process! As a small child it was mind baffling to think that this ship had foundered on our shores more than 350 years earlier and there was still evidence of the occurrence. That summer planted the seed which now has brought me here to the Mazotos wreck in Cyprus.

As a child I loved history and old seafaring tales. I could sit and listen to my grandfather spin such yarns for hours and no matter how many times I had heard a particular story it was still fascinating to hear it again and again and to picture the events rolling through my head like a movie. And then I would dream of one day becoming a scuba diver and of exploring and finding shipwrecks that had been long forgotten. To be an underwater archaeologist would have to be the best job in the world! Adulthood however has taken me down a different path and while I never pursued archaeology as a career the passion for its intrigue and adventure has never waned.

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Myself with new friends Stella and Christos

As soon as I could afford to I learned to scuba dive, all the while hoping that one day I would be able to participate and contribute in some meaningful way to an underwater archaeological project somewhere. Over the years I heard about and participated in an underwater archaeological fieldschool in Spain studying ancient shipwrecks carrying Roman amphora. From this I was introduced to the NAS (Nautical Archaeology Society) programs. This was what I had been looking for. While at this stage in my life becoming an archaeologist may not be possible I could however, still take formal training and assist archaeologists first hand in the field and that would be pretty darn close. I follow the NAS Facebook page and in the January of this year I saw the opportunity to apply to participate in the Cyprus underwater archaeological fieldschool on the Mazotos wreck which I jumped at. I was fortunate enough to have been selected and now I am here living the dream. Diving every day on a classical period shipwreck which is almost 2500 years old working side by side with professional archaeologists, making new friends from around the world as well as making meaningful contributions to legitimate research. Part of me would like to say that I can now cross this item off of my bucket list but that would imply the ride is over but I am hoping it is only just beginning.

Written by Ray LeFrense

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