Rodgers: We’re really devoted to hands-on-teaching. Now classroom has its place, but then we want to take the students out and give them some practical knowledge about what they are going to run into. Hence the field schools and the field semesters that we operate. And we put more emphasis on that than any other school that does this.
Cousineau: Underwater archaeology is essentially at the heart of its methodology exactly the same as terrestrial archaeology. But we have the added difficulty of working with an environment that is altogether limiting in the time we get to spend actually mapping.
A lot of these students have just learned how to dive. So, diving alone is a skill that you can acquire over years and need to acquire over years. Then when you combine that with attempting to do archaeology in a foreign environment while wearing all of this clutter, it becomes very difficult.
Cousineau: We have to deal with time limits. So with a given tank depending on depth, we’re very limited on how much time we get in any specific moment to actually do our research and get an accurate depiction on what’s underwater. That’s one big limitation. The other one is actual depth. So we have to worry about saturated nitrogen and the way the physics works underwater -how that affects our bodies and our minds. So, there’s a lot of extra things that we have to worry about that you don’t have to worry about in a terrestrial context.
My experience goes back over twenty-five years in this. So I’ve done a lot of things. We’ve worked in the Pacific. We’ve worked on the Battleship Arizona, for instance. We found whaling ships out in the middle of the Pacific. We’ve worked in the Great Lakes. We’ve worked out in the Caribbean. And in this instance I’m seeing the second oldest ship that I have ever worked on.
The Corolla wreck is both a Godsend and a tragedy in archaeology. The tragic part is that the shipwreck washed up from an environment where it’s been stable for many, many years. Once it washes up, it begins deteriorate badly. That’s why we need to get started, record these wrecks, and get as much data off them as possible. Now this wreck is definitely worth the trip and worth all the energy that we’re putting into it. It appears to be early 17th century. We can identify that by how the thing is constructed and actually some of the artifacts that came off of there looked to be early 17th century also. That’s extremely old for this area. And so what we’re actually doing is adding to history through archaeology. There are no historic sources that talk about vessels this early wrecking off our coast. Now that we know that they are there, we know there’s a whole hidden history that we’re trying to shed some light on.