Submerged History of the Adriatic

I really like Hrvoje Potrebica’s presentation on the Submered History of the Adriatic because not only was the topic of underwater archaeology different from what I normally learn about archaeology, but it was easy to tell that Potrebica really enjoys and values his work. One thing that really stuck with me from his presentation was what he said about archaeologists trying to figure out people’s stories. Sometimes it can seem like they just find artifacts, but Potrebica made the point that he is really trying to learn about the lives of people like the ship’s crew. I think that passion is a key ingredient in anything a person does, especially in the case of archaeology.
Potrebica’s overview of Croatian underwater archaeology encompassed a lot of information and definite sparked my interest. There are over 400 archaeological sites in the Adriatic Sea, and one is even a Neanderthal site. They range from prehistoric, Roman, Medieval, Remaissance, World War I, and World War II shipwrecks. The vessels could have been trading, visiting and traveling, or military ships. Many of the trade vessels made various stops, acquiring goods at multiple ports, so in order to determine their country of origin, Potrebica and his colleagues look at the ship’a kitchen and the origins of the artifacts in there. In addition to the ships on the Adriatic, there are sites in lakes and rivers, where smaller ships would move trade goods further inland.
Unfortunately, many shipwrecks fall victim to plundering, so conserving underwater sites can be problematic. When a new site is found, plunderers hear about it and will disturb the site before it can be fully excavated. The challenge for archaeologists is to excavate the site as quickly as possible to get everything out of the water. However, the artifacts can crumble very easily when exposed again because they have been underwater for so long. I think that underwater sites seem more difficult to preserve because they are harder to keep under surveillance. Potrebica talked about some ways in which archaeologists have been trying to overcome these obstacles. They have built cages around sites in an effort to keep out plunderers. Hopefully innovations such as that will be successful in the future when more site are discovered.

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