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Past talks (since 2021)

DateVenueEventStatusMy contribution (title and abstract)
8.4.2022Istanbul (Turkey)Lecture series at Koç University Mustafa V. Koç Maritime Archaeology Research Center (KUDAR)invited speakerShipwreck Archaeology in the Intertidal Zone of the North Frisian Wadden Sea (Germany)

In recent years there has been an exponential increase of wreck discoveries in the North Frisian Wadden Sea of the German federal state of Schleswig-Holstein. This can be linked to coastal erosion, tidal currents and storms, which effects are amplified by climate change. Each of the wrecks has a unique story to tell, like the ‘half-carvel’ Japsand wreckage from the early 17th century, which seems to be a local variation of a construction that is most commonly found in Sweden. Or the two ‘Double Dutch’ shell-first carvel constructions from Hörnum Odde (Sylt) and Süderoogsand – dating to ca. 1690 and 1733 respectively – that are comparable to Dutch Eastindiamen and whaling ships in their constructional style. And, last not least, two additional wooden wrecks on Süderoogsand that were uncovered by a storm in late February 2022. None of the wrecks have been identified yet. A cooperation with historians is currently forged – both locally and internationally – to identify the wrecks and shed light on the fate of their crews. The work hitherto done presented a special challenge, as the wrecksites are located in very remote parts of the Wadden Sea. They can be neither investigated by conventional terrestrial nor underwater archaeological methods, and the time frame for surveying is set by the tidal calendar. The challenging conditions are further aggravated by the lack of funding for maritime archaeological research in Germany. Due to the sovereignty of the German federal states in cultural politics (‘Kulturhoheit der Länder’), there no central German authority responsible for maritime archaeology. The littoral states often lack the resources to build up capacities for a highly specialised subject as maritime archaeology on their own accord, and archaeological excavations carried out by state authorities are typically only developer-funded. Notwithstanding, the maritime cultural heritage is under threat particularly in areas affected by coastal erosion, and there is a concerted effort to raise awareness in the public and academic sphere for this pressing issue.
26.09.-01.10.2021Zadar (Croatia)16th International Symposium on Boat & Ship Archaeology heldAn early 17th-century ‚half-carvel‘ construction in the North Frisian Wadden Sea: The Japsand wreckage near Hallig Hooge, Germany

In February 2017 an articulated slab of mixed lapstrake and carvel planking was discovered east of Japsand, an outer shoal of the island of Hooge in Germany. In May another slab of evidently the same wreck was discovered at a distance of 400m. With a terminus post quem of 1609 it is the second oldest so-called ‚half-carvel‘ construction hitherto known after the Åkroken wreck of 1577 from the Swedish town of Sundsvall. Half carvel constructions are mainly linked to Sweden and occured between the 16th to the mid 20th century, but similar constructions are also known from Denmark, Norway and northern Germany. In contrast to most Scandinvian half-carvels, this wreck is built entirely of oak, which originated from a singular source in southern Sweden or northern Germany. Both the timber selection and way of construction indicate a rural origin, which is consistent to the type’s preconceived perception. The find location in an inhospitable and dangerous part of the Wadden Sea – bereft of natural harbours and sheltered anchorages – and the wreck’s fragmentary state suggests a violent loss, which may have been linked to a natural disaster like the historic storm floods of 1625 or 1634, which depopulated the North Frisian Islands.The location of the wreckage in the intertidal zone posed an additional challenge, as it was only accessible at low tide after traversing nearly two kilometres of tidal mudflats and creeks. The circumstances required a fast recording methodology, as newly discovered wrecks are swiftly reclaimed by the sea in this part of the world. It included an extensive photo-documentation for the creation of a SfM-photomosaic, in situ recording, and dendro-sampling. Another critical factor was the involvement of the island community, which local knowledge proved of vital importance for the reporting of new archaeological sites and the logistical support on site.