My Writings. My Thoughts.

ÄlgöWreck Fieldschool Day 11, Lets Draw Timbers!

// August 14th, 2014 // No Comments » // 2014 Fieldschool Älgo

It was a quiet day on site with only 4 divers available. Work continued on the offset drawing and sketching the timbers with all divers having long dives, and all but 1 having two dives. We had just shy of 700 mins of dive time, which was a good result for a relaxed day on site. There was a lot of thesis discussion, good natured debates, and story time with Dana as he regaled us with the story of Ankor Wat’s lost wall paintings from the latest edition of antiquity. Thesis conversations

Thijs catching up on news from the archaeological world

We made good progress on the plan and the sketches, while others continued working at the Vasa museum with Fred Hocker. But of course, with the end in sight, we are beginning to feel to pressure. More drawing and sketching will continue in the following days.

Updating our record

Selina Ali

ÄlgöWreck Fieldschool Day 10: Keel and what knot

// August 13th, 2014 // No Comments » // 2014 Fieldschool Älgo

We kept on drawing and sketching today.  What was really exciting was the fact that Christian was able to locate the keel of our ship. After Tasha transcribed all drawings from today and included them in the “bigger picture,” it seems to assume the shape more and more.


Looking at today’s drawing. Taken by: Heike Müller


It is a boat! Taken by: Heike Müller

Meanwhile during tendering, Selina and Tasha discovered Rik as a knot tying prodigy and we all had a try with different knots.


Tying the knot. Have a try! Taken by: Heike Müller

Another very positive thing today: Thijs finally fixed his car so that we can have a safe trip back to Esbjerg next Friday!


Written by: Heike Muller

ÄlgöWreck Fieldschool Day 9: Offset, Guest Presentation and Visit to Birka

// August 13th, 2014 // No Comments » // 2014 Fieldschool Älgo

Yet an other day of drawing and sketching. Since half of the team is visiting Birka today, the remaining half had a nice relaxed day on our new location to dive from. This week we can dive from a large jetty owned by some local people which has plenty of room for all our dive gear and the boat. It is also closer to the wreck site, so tending will be easier as well. Some dives are now untethered to get things started earlier in the mornings, and to give people more freedom in and around the wreck to shoot videos, draw and swim around. In the evening the Japanese delegation which had visited our site the day before came to have dinner with us. They also gave a nice presentation on the  Takashima Underwater Site, which gave us some insight to the maritime archaeology in Japan.

Written by: Morrison van den Linden

A very happy diver. Photo by: Heike Müller

A very happy diver. Photo by: Heike Müller


The off-site team members had an eventful visit Sweden’s first town of the Viking Age. The day began with a short walking tour led by Sjohistoriska curator and maritime archaeologist Jim Hansson; he showed us remnants of the past captured in the landscape such as the old fortress walls, King’s Entrance, grave mounds, ship stone graves, inland piers, and some stone jetties which continue to be used today by local farmers.

Soon after, we were shown some finds from their underwater sit which they are presently excavating. There was an impressive collection of worked wood, unshaped amber, an assumed torch (wood, textile and tar), a whet stone, and other finds. Sjohistoriska has carried out several excavations of the cultural layers in Birka’s shallow shores over the last few years, bringing up impressive artefacts with every dive. In just 20 minutes, while we spoke with one of their divers near the diving platform, we witnessed a single diver  return to surface 3 times with new artefacts!

After a long wander through the burial grounds, we visited the museum of Birka which impressed us as much as the finds. The way finds are displayed for the public is particularly and commendably archaeology-based. For example, some wooden toggles lay in a clear water-filled tank and guests may shine flashlights through the glass, perhaps encouraged to feel the way a diver might. Another section presented different cultural layers in a stratigraphic display, with reference to corresponding finds in small cases. On one wall hangs a map of the island’s geophysical data, depicting the mass of grave mounds and settlement features. Furthermore, there is a lovely balance of displays;  indoor and outdoor, interactive and passive, entertaining and educational.

The Sjohistoriska excavation team are open to and encourage both questions and visitor participation. For more information, see their website:

Written by: Tasha Andersen


ÄlgöWreck Fieldschool Day 8: Tending in the rain

// August 12th, 2014 // No Comments » // 2014 Fieldschool Älgo


Rainy overview: Taken by: Rik Lettany.

Today our MAP-team had two main goals. The first goal was to continue recording the wreck by means of offset-drawing and sketching in order to have a good basis on which we can build further in the next few days. The secondgoal -requested by Fred Hocker, Director of Research at the Vasa Museum- was to record certain parts of the construction of the Vasa. For this reason our team was split up into two groups: one team of 7 head to Älgö and 4 others head to the museum. Thijs, in the meanwhile, took care of a delegation of Japanese visitors who wanted to visit our project.

With the advantage of being a smaller group, team Älgö had the first diver in the water at 09:35. And while the first divers were busy drawing the wreck under water, the sky turned grey and soon the first raindrops started falling from the sky. Not much later the tenders on land got almost as wet as the divers down. A small shelter was improvised by Morrison so that he could get changed into his dry suit. Rain, wind, cold temperatures, … the classic archaeological experience! Luckily things didn’t get worse and all dives could be finished. After six (near) 2-hour dives we called it a day, and post-processing of the recorded timbers could start.


Morrison enjoying the only dry spot of the site. Taken by: Heike Müller


Post processing. Taken by: Rik Lettany

Meanwhile at Vasa Museum; we enjoyed warm mugs of good coffee and free internet. It was a bit cold working in the main exhibition area, but we were enjoying the work so much, we just did not care. Our task is to help the reassessment of timbers that are supposed to make up the trunk for the main pump. It has been disassembled and we are now recording them in detail to enable a digital reconstruction. For the most part we will use simple off-set measurements on paper, but a FARO-arm is also available. The first two teams, as we work in pairs, were Tasha & Björn and Agustin & Dana. Both teams got as far as recording two faces of the assigned stanchions. The work continues Wednesday. It is a great experience working where we can interact with visitors of the museum; they ask questions, take photos and observe our work. One always has to remind himself not to just end up chatting, but continue with the work.

Written by: Rik Lettany

ÄlgöWreck Fieldschool Day 7: Pier Pressure

// August 11th, 2014 // No Comments » // 2014 Fieldschool Älgo, Fieldwork Projects


Yesterday, 9.08.2014 was a long day so I decided to start a few minutes later so that the team would be better rested. The main objective of the day was to draw and sketch the areas of the wreck between the Stern-post and what we assigned as the work line (the line that leads from the diving pier to the wreck).

On site the weather was sunny and warm with no current and warm waters as well. Throughout the day the temperature was going to be rising to around 24 degrees Celsius, so everyone had to watch each other and stay hydrated.

"Who is down there?"

“Who is down there?” Taken by Tasha Andersen

I found it very effective to have the standby diver go to the site by car and have them checked before the first set of divers arrive on site. By doing so, the team was able to get the first set of divers in the water before 10:00  a.m.

The base line was used to guide the drawing-divers for their offset drawings, while the sketch-divers’ goals were to describe the timbers in the area they were assigned.

The day started off great and the divers were getting long dives until we were informed that the pier we were using for the main divers had to be empty because the owners were going to have a party at 16:00. This meant that there would be a lot of boat traffic. Pressure to move piers also lead to a bit of confusion on task for the divers, but nonetheless sketches and drawings were produced. On the other hand the longer dives allowed other team members to get long enough breaks in between dives and work more productively and positively throughout the day.

Tine Drawing. Taken by Heike Müller

Tine Drawing. Taken by Heike Müller

I had to shorten the dive time for the third set of divers and leave out the fourth  set for the day. It worked out at the end since leaving early would mean that the main drawing can be worked on back at home base for the rest of the day and we would be able to get an overview of the Älgöwreck. At the end of the dive day a total of six dives were done with approximately 507 minutes of dive time. Overall, I would say that it was a productive day and exciting for some of the divers that were doing certain activities underwater for the first time.

Supervising at its Best. Taken by Liisa Randmaa

Supervising at its Best. Taken by Liisa Randmaa

Written By: Agustin Ortiz JR

ÄlgöWreck Fieldschool Day 6: Tag your planks!

// August 10th, 2014 // No Comments » // 2014 Fieldschool Älgo

After a regular start from Hellasgården (including a morning swim, porridge and all the perks of a 5:50 am wake-up) we arrived at the marina in Fiskesätra only to find its gates closed. After a short wait our patience ran out and to get things underway, we decided to use the public slipway to load the boat and sail/drive off towards the site.


Our first task of the day was to tag the timbers east of our workline, focusing on the main framing elements and the upright standing member we now call the „sternpost”. Meanwhile the cleaning continued. The tagging went very well and we got over 50 cow tags in place. There was only a 20 minute delay in our schedule until the summer heat got to us and finally we managed 7 dives by the afternoon.


Our second task for the day was to start sketching and taking measurements and our last divers did just that by recording the „keelson” (Timber 482) and some other frames. There was too little time left for this job and visibility was much reduced in the late hours, but it gave a good starting point for the following day.


Improving safety

Improving safety. Taken by Tasha Andersen

Last but not least, there was a job to be done above water too. As it is summertime and the living is easy, countless small watercraft race past the site every day. Some of them also tow wakeboarders or tubes behind them and most of them sail at a high speed. The drivers are generally used to the area and drive their boats routinely, paying little attention to the shore. We try and signal them by marking the site with multiple dive (‘A’) flags, shouting and waving, but the skippers either do not pay attention or recognise our signals too late or just wave back. We have now placed three extra buoys around the site and can dive feeling much safer.


We also recorded some footage with our GoPro camera that we are breaking down into individual frames to create a photo mosaic. To get better results from the recording, we deployed one diver un-tethered and this proved to be the right decision.

At the end of the day logistics got the better of us, because being the supervisor, one of the boat drivers and van drivers does complicate organisation. This resulted in our shopping team having to navigate by phone GPS to find the shop (in fairness they did not find THE shop, but found A shop) and three of us having to fill cylinders and lift the compressor back into the belly of the Great White Shark (aka the IVECO van). However, this is no place to complain as we also got the chance to try our hands at cricket with some local Pakistani players (we did not take it).

At the end of a long day came a delightful dinner; our tortillas and tacos were filled up and our report forms filled in. Another successful day for the SDU-MAP team with much more to look forward to.


Written by: Daniel Dalicsek

Preparing nails

Preparing nails. Taken by Tasha Andersen

A "heated" discussion

A “heated” discussion. Taken by Liisa Randmaa

ÄlgöWreck Fieldschool – Exploring the Älgo wreck

// August 10th, 2014 // No Comments » // 2014 Fieldschool Älgo

Our divers are currently exploring the wreck. All of our divers…


ÄlgöWreck Fieldschool Day 5: Baseline Basics

// August 9th, 2014 // No Comments » // 2014 Fieldschool Älgo

Team Algo aimed for an earlier start after yesterday’s slight thunderstorm delay. Following a 6:50am breakfast briefing, we managed to reach the HAMN pier at fiskskatra, load up our boat MAPPA and arrive at the site in time for our first diver, Morrison, to dive at 10:03am.

Morrison filmed length-wise footage of the wreck with a GO-PRO. He reported later that should any GO-PRO filming for Agisoft Software or photo mosaics be done, we should consider diving without tethers. Morrison was soon after joined by Agustin, who took with him a shopping basket with tools and tied them the to sinker which marks the wreck. The two of them continued cleaning, however without anywhere to put the garbage, Heike snorkeled some garbage bags to them; these were punctured with holes to let water in and tied to pins in the seabed near the wreck. Several divers have described a marine growth which is hard to remove unless one tries to bundle it up and swim away to deposit it.

The original plan was to send Agustin in to lay a baseline with pins and string, however these were mistakenly left on MAPPA, which was driven back to the HAMN pier to collect remaining team members who were allocated the job of filling cylinders. Despite the set-back, Agustin and Morrison managed to clean, or in their words, “bulldoze” a considerable amount.

As Agustin is quite the fish (96 minutes, 80 BAR out), the originally paired diver sets no longer went in together but 20 minutes apart. This however was not problematic because gear could be swapped in accordance with the next planned diver with the same BCD-size.

Agustin the Fish

Agustin the fish. Taken by Morrison van der Linden

The baseline, which returned in time for the second set of divers, was initially put down by Selina, who was later joined by Tine. Yesterday proved a difficult day for using the Comms, but today, after a full night’s charging and perhaps a bit of luck, the Comms worked beautifully enough to hear both divers on the surface, and for them to communicate with each other underwater as well. Together they pinned the baseline to central timbers and reported it to be c.17.7m.

Tine drove MAPPA back to HAMN pier with Selina and Liisa to fill cylinders, and Morrison and Agustin to go dinnre shopping before the next divers went in. With five team members short, Rik, Heike and myself alternated between tending and supervising tasks to keep our two divers and standby diver happy. We found that the small red umbrella kept in the supervisor’s box was particularly useful – especially for hot days like today with 25 degree water temperature!


Thijs on standby. Taken by Heike Müller

The third dive set was meant to start tagging, however a lack of nails meant that this task would be delayed until tomorrow. Considering the amount of rubbish described, Dana and Bjorn were appointed the task of straightening a curvy baseline and continue cleaning. They brought up several bags, with a series of unremarkable contents such as glass bottles, modern ceramic sherds and tiles.

Thijs, who was sitting as standby diver for the third set, was swapped with Bjorn so that he could survey and modify the team’s progress. He shortened and tightened the baseline to approximately 14m in length and surfaced with the remaining garbage bags and tools, expressing his content with the day’s work.


Taken by Heike Müller

Our tenders are much more conscious of the coiling tethers in the basket and those who are less familiar with diving are learning how to manage the change overs much faster than yesterday. Its wonderful to see everyone quickly getting comfortable with the site and equipment.

Though perhaps not all aims were reached in the way imagined, we achieved our basic baseline and have a better understanding of the extent of our site. We returned to Hellasgarden for a lovely fajita dinner prepared by Morrison and Agustin, excited for a day of tagging and drawing tomorrow.

Written by: Tasha Andersen

ÄlgöWreck Fieldschool Day 4: Cleaning, Cleaning, Cleaning…

// August 8th, 2014 // No Comments » // 2014 Fieldschool Älgo

We awoke bright and early due to torrential rain pounding against the cabins, thunder echoing across the lake outside, and lightning briefly lighting up the rooms. Heavy rain continued during breakfast at 6.30, and for the first time since we’ve arrived in the accommodation, we weren’t bothered by wasps in and around our food. Due to the rain, and the interruption to our sleep, we were a bit slow out the door, only arriving on site at 9.30 am. The sky was considerably less dramatic when we left the accommodation, and stayed fairly humid but dry for the rest of the day.

We have two piers on site. One large private one with is 5 meters from the site, which the homeowners have kindly allowed us to use. We normally set up the standby diver there, but leave most the pier open so the homeowners can also enjoy it. We are also using a neighbour’s private pier located a short swim c.20M away from the site. We have laid a distance line from this pier to the site. As the owner of this pier does not need it right now, we are doing the bulk of our diving operation here, with the main two lines set up, and communication. This allows for more movement, and frees up to boat to do trips back and forth to the vans to transport people in two trips in the morning, and to send people back early for cooking.

I wanted to get the bulk of the cleaning done, as well as get the divers in the water as quickly as possible, and efficiently as possible. But before the cleaning could commence we first had to lift a modern plastic boat that is laying on the wreck. We borrowed 3 lift bags from the local museum, and Thijs and Morrison lifted the boat and pulled it to shore. After this, they attached a mooring buoy to a sinker for the owner of the pier which we are doing the bulk of our diving operation from.


Photo by: Heike Müller

The cleaning started after all the technical things were finished, cleaning started with every diver wearing garden gloves and clearing away a lot of marine growth from the ship, and by the end of the day the ship and its extents were mostly visible, but more cleaning is needed tomorrow.

We managed to make 9 dives with 8 divers, Thijs having a short second dive at the end of the day to survey the site, and see what state the wreck was in.


Photo by: Heike Müller

We came home to a lovely BBQ put together by Agustin and Morrison, and began sketching our impressions of the wreck extents so far, and our first impressions, now that large sections of the wreck is mostly visible and free from growth.

Tomorrow we will put down a base line and finish the cleaning.
All in all most things ran smoothly and everyone is becoming more comfortable with the equipment, and we are getting faster and faster every day setting up the dive site and dressing the divers.


Photo by: Heike Müller

Written by Selina Ali