Fieldschools in South Africa
Throughout this Maritime Archaeology Development Programme, a number of fieldschools have been organised each year in collaboration with the South African Heritage Resource Agency (SAHRA).
Robben Island Fieldschool
Partners: SAHRA, Robben Island Museum, Africa World Heritage Fund (AWHF), Netherlands Embassy to South Africa, Leiden University, University of Cape Town, Western Australian Museum.
The first Robben Island Fieldschool was held in 2010, following the workshop series on the island (see below). A total of 22 individuals attended the fieldschool, to be introduced to the theoretical and practical training in maritime and underwater archaeology, through the use of survey and recording programmes. We organised NAS introductory and Part 1 courses, which covered theory and practical training in maritime activities, legislation, ethics, survey techniques and management approaches. Two members of staff from the Robben Island Museum also completed their Open Water Diver training course.
This introductory training was also given to a group of South African divers and non-divers a few months later in Durban.
The Part 2 section of the course included the completion of a field survey and survey report on underwater sites around Robben Island and Table Bay, including a selection of land based maritime sites around Robben Island.
The following year the non-disturbance survey was extended to a barrel wreck, with particpants from Leiden University and the University of Cape Town joining the action. The fieldschool attendees were split into two groups; the first were required to diversify the presentation of the various historical layers across the island, which resulted in a proposal for a walking trail that the group presented to visiting members of UNESCO. The second group were talked to study the maritime function of the island throughout history, working on a maritime and underwater cultural heritage database, by investigating the histories of the various sites on the island.
The attendees took part in NAS Part 1 practical training, followed by Part 2 which required them to implement a non-disturbance site survey. A further requirement was the compilation of a report containing information on site history, environmental and conservation issues, as well as recommendations. Some individuals managed to complete the NAS Part 3; an in-situ conservation course around the barrel wreck, which was conducted by members of the Western Australian Museum.
In 2012 the fieldschool was extended for another year due to its success. This season focused upon the heritage sites on the island within the 1 nautical mile buffer zone surrounding this World Heritage Site. The students came from many different countries; South Africa, Swaziland, the Netherlands, Canada, as well as a number of Robben Island staff members. The central part of the fieldschool continued building upon our work with the training methods under the NAS programme; introducing the participants to theoretical, practical and ethical cocepts of archaeology and heritage management.
Once again the group were divided into two teams following maritime and heritage themed tracks. The maritime team continued the survey of the barrel shipwreck site with training, combined with training in in-situ conservation and preservation which was conducted by representatives from the Western Australia Museum. With the assistance of ProMare, the group were introduced to using Site Recorder, a specialised underwater mapping software.
The team recovered a lead ballast bar from the wreck site. This was taken to the conservation laboratory at the Iziko museum, where the makers mark was traced back to the original mine and factory where it was made in Scotland. This is the sort of information that can help to identify a wreck and place it within the wider historical landscape of Table Bay.
The heritage team was split up into smaller groups who each investigated various aspects of Robben Island's tangible and intangible heritage connections with the mainland. The practical implications of the previously proposed walking tour were explored, as they desired to diversify the presentation of the island, exposing its different layers through a walking tour. Another group were tasked with comparing the ceramic finds brought up from the shipwrecks, to those recovered from mainland sites and within the burial grounds on Robben Island and the non-VOC burials at Green Point in Cape Town.
All of the fieldschool teams presented their findings to the staff and CEO's of Robben Island, Iziko and SAHRA, as well as the report on the walking trail being shared with the UNESCO mission who were visiting the island.
Robben Island Workshops
Partners: South African Heritage Resource Agency (SAHRA), Robben Island Museum, Africa World Heritage Fund
CIE and SAHRA conducted the first maritime and underwater cultural heritage (MUCH) training programme between February- March 2010. The programme consisted of four sessions.
Session 1: Developing a South African and Sub-Saharan African Regional Strategy for a Maritime Programme
This session was targeted at institutional decision makers, planners and conservation managers. It included government representatives from Namibia, Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa as well as the African World Heritage Fund, Robben Island Museum and the University of Cape Town.
A sub-Saharan regional srategy on the implementation of a MUCH programme was initiated and further developed. A discussion was also held on the ratification of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage 2001.
Session 2: Workshop on Site Recorder Software and Magnetometer Surveying (NAS Part 3 Course)
Theoretical and practical training was carried out on the use of this survey and recording programme- Site Recorder. This was followed by three days theoretical and practical training using a magnetometer to search for maritime and underwater sites, integrating the data with the Site Recorder programme.
Session 3: Introductory Workshops on Maritime and Underwater Cultural Heritage Work (NAS Introductory and Part 1)
22 people attended this NAS introductory and Part 1 courses, which included a mixture of theory and practical training in the scope of maritime and underwater activities, legislation and ethics, different MUCH site types, search and survey techniques. It also covered the significance of maritime heritage and the various management approaches that can be used.
Session 4: Advanced Training on Maritime Underwater Cultural Heritage Work (NAS Part 2)
The NAS Part 2 certification consists of implementing a field survey and preparing a survey report. The survey programme was implemented on a number of underwater heritage sites around Robben Island and Table Bay, plus a selection of land-based heritage sites on the Island.
There were a total of 16 participants to this more advanced part of the course. They implemented four days of terrestrial and underwater surveys, followed by planning the different aspects of the report to be compiled by the group members.