Thursday, November 18, 2010

Maritime Archaeology Training

Last weekend 25 locals with a common interest in our maritime heritage spent their time in the Museum Theatre at Kingston attending a course on Maritime Archaeology. Everyone successfully passed Part 1 of the course offered by the Australasian Institute of Maritime Archaeology (AIMA) and Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS). Cass Phillipou and Sarah Ward were our main tutors and Andy Viduka also taught some sessions. Cass, Sarah and Andy are all members of AIMA and were here with funding provided to the Museum by the Commonwealth’s Historic Shipwrecks Program (Andy is the Assistant Director of Maritime Heritage in that Department).

 We were incredibly lucky to have these three run our course – not only are they very experienced maritime archaeologists and professionals, but their passion and enthusiasm for the subject made our learning experience a really enjoyable one, and as easy as possible. We covered topics that were totally new to most of us and there was a lot to take in including the Legislations covering shipwreck material, Archaeological Principles, site survey methods and conservation. We even managed in our small groups to survey parts of the New Gaol! The course is designed as an effective way to learn basic underwater archaeological skills.

AIMA is the only non-government organisation involved in maritime archaeology at a national level. It was formed in 1982 to assist in developing the maritime archaeology profession and furthering the aims of programs and projects carried out in Australia and other parts of the world. Volunteers make up a large part of maritime archaeology expeditions around the world and Membership of AIMA and Certification through the courses they offer, can provide the opportunity to volunteer on expeditions around the world.

After passing a short exam the outcome of our efforts was the presentation of Certificates certifying that we had each passed Part 1 of the AIMA/NAS course, and Membership to AIMA. Another outcome was that the group came together again during this week to start a Maritime Archaeology Association on Norfolk Island. This is incredibly exciting as it marks the beginning of a volunteer group of divers and non-divers who will research, locate, document and protect our maritime heritage. There will be further information provided by the group in coming weeks as they begin to confirm their purpose and objectives and formally establish themselves as an Incorporated Association.  This is great news for Norfolk – and for future generations of Norfolk Islanders.