By Lindsay Wentzel, ACUA GSA
Last summer, myself and former GSA, Dominic Bush, had the opportunity to work on an international team of students and faculty surveying the Mediterranean coast of Antalya, Türkiye. At the end of the project, as we all shared hugs and said our goodbyes, Dom and I suggested a group reunion in Lisbon at SHA 2023. However, instead of excitement about shared AirBnB’s, dinner plans, and nighttime excursions to Bairro Alto, we were met with confused looks and a lot of “SHA? What is that”. It hadn’t occurred to us that the SHA conference, our own annual pilgrimage, was not a universal experience. Rest assured we didn’t leave the boat without a thorough explanation and verbal promises of attendance.
Ironically, the then upcoming conference focused on the theme of “Revisiting Global Archaeologies” and the GSAs were in the midst of planning our own contribution, a panel session titled “Future Directions of Underwater Archaeology in a Post-Pandemic, Increasingly-Digital Age”. Months passed, and in January hundreds of archaeologists descended upon Lisbon, taking photos outside of Belém Tower and the Padrão dos Descobrimentos monument, recognizing one another in the Mercado da Ribeira while indulging in Pasteis de Nata, and even venturing off to the nearby destinations of Sintra and Nazaré. I too set my course for Portugal, stopping for a New Year’s Guinness in Dublin and a stroll around Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland on the way.
Generously supported by the George R. Fischer Student Travel Award, my attendance at SHA 2023 provided me the opportunity to present a poster on my graduate research where I met professionals in the field familiar with my study site and even learned a few things from a Texas A&M undergraduate student experiencing his first trip out of Texas. The award covered my ticket to the Maritime Museum reception where I caught up with a dear mentor and former supervisor while touring the Pavilhão das Galeotas Reais (Pavilion of Royal Barges) in the company of Queen Maria I’s 18th-Century ceremonial barge and the seaplane “Santa Cruz” that made the first south Atlantic crossing in 1922. The funding also supported a cozy AirbBnB with friends near the conference location of NOVA University Lisbon, just blocks from a juice store where many of my pocket Euros disappeared to. Most importantly, the award afforded me the opportunity to moderate our GSA panel focused on methods and technologies that facilitate international collaboration, a personal motivator of mine since observing a deficit in international student inclusion months prior.
In organizing the panel, we sought to explore developing technologies, methods, and collaborations within the field of underwater archaeology in a post-pandemic world. We invited four panelists to discuss their own experience working in an increasingly-digital age, touching on topics of international partnerships, employment opportunities, and emerging technologies and accompanying skillsets. Invited panelists Dr. Kota Yamafune (A. P. P. A. R. A. T. U. S.), Dr. Tânia Casimiro (NOVA), Dr. Jean-Sebastien Guibert (Université des Antilles), and Dr. Athena Trakadas (National Museum of Denmark) each offered their perspectives on current and forthcoming directions in global underwater archaeology.
The session began with panelist introductions and stories of various relationships with diving and submerged cultural heritage as well as a variety of personal influences and professional applications of archaeology from academia to museum and government work, to freelance and non-profit organizations. Moving into a discussion on pandemic archaeology, our panelists spoke on the struggles of restricted in-person collaboration, fieldwork that was put on pause, and international projects that were abandoned in exchange for domestic undertakings and a heavier emphasis on site monitoring. While the pandemic brought with it the difficulties of online teaching such as adjusting to new tools and apps and methods to facilitate learning, it also afforded a chance to catch up on publications and report writing. The digital emphasis experienced across the field since 2020 entailed recognizing challenges in communication and inequity of online resources without open access publishing. The session ended with a particularly engaged discussion on photogrammetry, including multiple questions and comments from the audience. While photogrammetry saves time and increases the accessibility of material culture scans, does it disservice site interpretation? Does a dependence on technology damage the fundamentals of archaeology, and should we favor the tactile nature of illustration for its intimacy with a site or artifact? We felt bad cutting off such lively discussion at the end of our allotted time… so much so, we’ve decided to do it again!
On April 5 (3:00 PM EST/7:00 PM UTC) the ACUA GSAs will host a continuation of our SHA 2023 panel, this time bringing together eight new panelists representative of seven different countries and organizations. We are excited to virtually host Dr. Hakan Öniz (Akdeniz University – Türkiye), Dr. Felipe Cerezo Andreo and Soledad Solana Rubio (Universidad de Cádiz – Spain), Cézar Mahumane (Eduardo Mondlane University – Mozambique), Dr. Ziad Morsy (Honor Frost Foundation – Egypt), Danielle Wilkinson (Australasian Institute for Maritime Archaeology – Australia), one of our recent ACUA board members Dr. Roberto Junco (Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia – Mexico), and Dr. Connie Kelleher (National Monuments Service – Ireland), one of our newest ACUA board members.
While this time there aren’t any Pasteis de Nata floating around or easy-access orange juice, the intention of this virtual panel is to better represent global underwater archaeology and its diversity of programs, research, and communities. We’ll discuss how to improve international collaboration, student engagement, and inclusion while also highlighting the ongoing research and work of our eight panelists. The event will last approximately 90 minutes and is free and open to the public with registration (available here). We encourage students, both young and career professionals, and any other interested parties to attend and hope that you join us and help maximize the opportunity for a truly global conversation.
Categorised in: Deep Thoughts