DHSC Project Team: Francis Stankiewicz, Flinders University

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My interests have always revolved around a love for the ocean, the arts and archaeology. As an undergraduate at Coastal Carolina University (USA), I majored in marine science with two minors, coastal geology and art history. I became interested in how geophysical techniques could add a new dimension to studying marine environments in support of marine geological and maritime archaeological research. In particular, I became interested in prehistory and the environmental influences that affected early cultures. At the moment, I’m working as a marine geologist in Florida while I do my MA in maritime archeology through Flinders. Luckily, modern day technology allows external students to stay in close communication with fellow researchers, which is important.

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The research team here in Denmark is extraordinary; it’s made up of everything from geomorphologists and geoarchaeologists to coastal prehistorians and specialists in Ertebølle culture. Along with Dr Paul Baggley (CTO at Wessex Archaeology and Adjunct Lecturer in Maritime Archaeology at Flinders), my job is to run the geophysical equipment (sidescan sonar and a sub-bottom profiler) which will give us a better understanding of the site’s submerged surface and subsurface. Although Horsens Fjord is protected on all sides from major weather events, which gives the appearance of calm waters, undertaking work on the site has proven to be a challenge. Weather and sea conditions have not been particularly favorable; certainly not ideal for geophysical or diving operations. As we ran our survey, we had to dodge boulders hidden just below the water’s surface while making sure we didn’t run aground in the shallower waters. As with all research, you persist and we were able to collect great data in the end.

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After completion of the geophysical operations, I joined the scientific dive team. We excavated the midden in one meter increments, carefully sifting through the material for further analysis. Now the real fun begins: data processing and writing. It’s going to be a big job. The geophysical data will be processed and interpreted based on its returned signals and ground truthed samples (geological samples) collected by other members of the Deep History of Sea Country (DHSC) project team Dr. Ingrid Ward and Peter Ross, as well as scientists at Moesgaard Museum. In terms of the environmental analysis from the site, the geophysical survey, aerial survey, geotechnical data and excavations will be used in combined efforts for further interpretations, we should know by the end of the year what we got.

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As the months progress over this next year, we will work to finalize our data findings in support of next season’s field operations. It is an exciting venture to view the archaeological information as the site reveals itself with further data analysis. I look forward to working with the DHSC research team next season to dig further into the wealth of knowledge which still lays submerged beneath the sea’s surface.
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Author: Deep History of Sea Country: Climate, Sea Level and Culture

This is our official project blog for the Deep History of Sea Country: Climate, Sea Level and Culture. Our project is funded by the Australian Research Council (DP170100812) and our official webpage is: http://www.flinders.edu.au/ehl/archaeology/seacountry.cfm Submerged landscape archaeology is an under-researched field in Australia and represents a major opportunity to address knowledge gaps in world prehistory such as early human migrations, the archaeology of land bridges and coastal-hinterland cultural exchange.