NAS II-course at Kaş – advanced course underwater archaeology

About the NAS II course
The NAS II course of the Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS) is continuing the exercises from the introductory course »Denkmalgerechtes Tauchen« (about how to dive at underwater monuments) and the NAS I course »conservation and archeology under water«). It is also necessary to write a documentation of an underwater object and the visit of two meetings or conferences on underwater archeology to get the certification.

Participants learn how to document their work, the location of the site, the finding spot (for example measure offset measurement (= Orthogonalvermessung) and trilateration (= three-point measurement) and to practice photography and video techniques. Finally each participant has to prepare a so-called »Prospektionsbericht« (report of the prospecting) of the measurements of the discovery site and more (»prospecting« is from the Latin word »prospicere, prospectio« which means to explore – in archeology that means exploring and recording of archaeological sites within a given area).

The participant thus acquired the status of an assistant in the field of underwater archeology. The next levels of education are NAS III (so-called »Field School« including the participation of an underwater excavation, with a point system) and NAS IV. NAS IV is only possible with a special university degree or equivalent professional related training. While NAS I-III can be completed at the DEGUWA, NAS IV must be completed in the UK.

The Uluburun ship at Kaş
In October 2010 we made our NAS II Course in Kas on the Turkish Mediterranean coast. Head of DEGUWA-course is the research diver Gerd Knepel with the assistance of the archaeologists Michaela Reinfeld and Katrin Wolters.

The Mediterranean coast within sight of the eastern Greek islands is full of classical sites ashore with Lycian rock tombs for example and in the water, amphoras, anchor stones and more. However, Kas is a special place from an archaeological point of view, because the west off the coast of this small seaside resort of Antalya, one of the oldest known ship was found: The wreck of Uluburun.

In 1982, the Turkish sponge diver Mehmet Çakır discovered strange shapes on the seabed. For him they seemde to look like »Metal biscuits with ears« or »dog biscuits«. These »biscuits« were oxhide ingots from the cargo of the Uluburn ship – with amphorae, pithoi (large jars), stone anchors and other objects. The cedar wood ship dates from the late Bronze Age in the 14th Century BC and is one of the the oldest shipwrecks which has been fund. It could be a merchant ship from the Middle East and gives valuable information about ancient trade relations.

The excavation team of George Bass and Cemal Pulak worked in eleven consecutive campaigns of 3-4 months duration on the recovery of the remains of the ship and cargo. From 1984 to 1994 nearly 22.5000 dives were made – in a depth up to 60 meters (which allowed only a short basic time for diving work). The finds are now at the National Museum and the INA archives in Bodrum.

Archaeopark and experimental archeology
We would not have to much time… and we had to work in a more comfortable way, not at the original monument place, not so deep beacuse our dive sites are two modern »sites« with ideal conditions for our practice: The Wreck of the Uluburun III and Archeopark with many amphoras with a grid.

Uluburun III? Yes, that’s right. And what about Uluburun II? So: The Uluburun II was rebuilt by the 360° Research Group. Now the ship is sailing on the Mediterranean routes and the group wins by practical experimental archeology further insights into the Late Bronze Age. 2006 the group built another ship, the Uluburun III, but only to sink it in the Archaeopark…

The sailing ship was (with amphorae, oxhide ingots, stone anchors as cargo) sunk on 29 October 2006 in the Bay Hidayet west of Kas. They want to examine in depth of 20 meters how the ship falls apart. Unfortunately the ship is destroyed more than planned because the shipworm has done a great job on pine wood (cedar could not be built because it is a protected wood!). The ship slipped from ten meters deep, a heavy storm and some badly dropped anchors may have deranged it by and by. Already after a few years only a few frames and extend mast parts of the cargo are still there.

The Archeopark also includes the new field of stone anchors and amphora with a measuring grid not so far away. It is also used for scientific training in underwater archeology. The SAD (Sualtı Araştırmaları Derneği, Underwater Research Association, Ankara, Turkey) is also involved in the Archeopark project and also organizes training sessions. The office of director Güzden Varinlioğlu and her team is right on the harbor. We got the chance to learn more about the work of the group. The small group has reached a lot in only a few years in spite of limited financial ressources, and they involved many people at the town. It was a special week, because Friday was a public exhibition in the city with banners held information about the work of the Young Arkeopark. And the »virtual museum« was opened, the database of the findings. And the date fits very well: It was Turkish National Day and the four-year anniversary of the sinking of the Uluburun III.

Our Course
We made our check dive and first contact with our areas of work: The Uluburun III and the Amphora field. Good structure at the following days: First dive in the morning, a short lunch break in the city, dive in the afternoon, before dinner in the hotel archaeological lectures, then dinner, and preparation of report and making sketches and drawings. The lectures concerned the Uluburun wreck, antique trade and shipbuilding… It was interesting at the end of the week to be at a shipyard and to see a large wooden ship under construction!

On the next days we went on our first drawing exercises in the amphorae field: Each participant had two fields to measure and draw. Then positioning and measurement exercises followed: First, the offset measurement. From a base line we made a right angle measurement to different points, then trilateration (a three-point measurement, where you have to fixed base-measuring points measured from the baseline to the measuring points – hope I described it understandable – it’s easier in German for me to describe it ;-).

Then we focused again at Uluburun III and we we made a few dives on real places »in situ« (with the well known »archeologist numbers and letters«), saw giant pithos (large amphora for storage, antique container units ;-), to broken ceramics and millstones and stone anchors. Some objects came intentionally into the water (to reduce ships weight to lower draft) – others unintentionally (by accident for example).

Finally we went diving at specific spots such as caves, a canyon, an aircraft and younger ship wrecks. Suddenly we had a good imagination of problems of ancient seafarers: The late-autumn weather changed so impressive that we wondered how fast he sharp rocks on the islands were no longer visible.

Between tourism and historic preservation
On a popular dive spot we saw »pack diving« on the monument – an amphorae field with numbers. The divers seemd to be beginners: badly tared and careless. It seemed to me like people walking with flipflops in the high mountains… We realized how important it is to find a good solution for the coexistence of tourism and historic preservation.

In my opinion the work of SAD and Young Arkeopark at Kaş is a good example for this process, for green tourism and education. Because you can only protect what you see and know. So we wish you great success!

Our dives were well organized by Hanne and Burak at Mavi Diving Kaş. We had our own ship, the »Berkay«, which is not a special dive boat, but it was perfect for us – with turkish tea after diving and our dive guide Sheren took care of us! We had a busy and interesting week and a little look inside the world of underwater archaeologists.

Like to see a small video of our course works? Please click to this page. It is at the website of my diving club TSG Grevenbroich, my report is in german – but including my pictures and short documentary film about the NAS II course at Kaş… Enjoy!

Links for more information

Our instructor Scientific diver: Gerd Knepel.

Addendum (2018)
Since 2014 I am multiplier for special course Denkmalgerechtes Tauchen (introductory course underwater archaeology) at VDST (German Underwater Federation) and KUWA and since 2016 multiplier at CMAS »Underwater Cultural Heritage Discovery Course« and I assist to UW-Archäologie I (Underwater-Archaeology I)-Course) at TSV NRW.

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