Sweden: MMT and MARIS Jointly Develop New Technologies in Marine Archeology

Sweden: MMT and MARIS Jointly Develop New Technologies in Marine Archeology

A Swedish research foundation has granted MARIS at Södertörn University funds to develop non intrusive methods for deep water archeology together with MMT. This is as part of the initiative to promote cooperation between the industry and the academic world.

The project focuses on developing new technologies and methods for documentation and identification of complex and inaccessible archaeological remains beneath the surface. MMT will support MARIS with knowledge and expertise.

New equipment known as a “Blue View”, is a kind of high-frequency scanner that can be placed on the bottom.

– By putting the transmitter in a wreck for example, a detailed documentation of the hull can be done in short time and with very high accuracy, explains Joakim Holmlund, PhD physicists, Project Manager at MMT and works at MARIS.

The scanner is particularly useful on wrecks in deep water where diving is difficult and complicated. These are the conditions in the newly discovered and spectacular wrecks, such as Mars (from 1564) and the Sword (from 1676). These two wrecks lays on the bottom of the sea by the island of Öland, Sweden.

There is often one problem with the archaeological remains in the Baltic Sea. The remains are covered with thick layers of sediment. This may explain why so few really old prehistoric archaeological remains have been found so far. To remedy this, new methods is needed to access the buried objects with higher resolution than normal sub-bottom profilers. One type of equipment that could be used for this purpose is a synthetic aperture sub-bottom profiler and it is called “Buried Object Sonar System” (BOSS). By using the BOSS method, the marine archaeologists have an opportunity to see three-dimensional images of objects under the surface. This technique might even make Baltic boats from both the Bronze Age and Stone Age to be found in the future.

Professor Johan Rönnby, who leads the work at MARIS, Södertörn University, is delighted with the new allocation.

– All archaeologies, both onshore and offshore, are a combination of humanistic interpretation and practical knowledge of the source material. The new equipment and cooperation with MMT provides us with exciting new opportunities to both find and reconstruct discoveries and whole environments submerged!

Swedish marine archaeological research has a very good reputation internationally and Sweden is considered one of the leading countries in this field. Södertörn University’s archaeological research department MARIS plays a central role in the scientific development of the field.

An important part of the development of this subject is new methods for underwater archeology. Search, mapping and underwater excavating requires special techniques and special skills. This is particularly evident in the case of examining the remains of the great depths. Instead of using cutting spoon, ruler and tape measure, we use underwater robots, multibeam and other subsea survey technologies. MARIS and MMTS research and developments of these technologies and methods have attracted international attention in various marine archeological projects.

Press Release, November 29, 2012

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