>"It's pretty incredible to see each artifact firsthand and recognize how it fits into the historical context," said Joe Hoyt, maritime archaeologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Monitor National Marine Sanctuary in Newport News, Va. "For instance, in 1854 the Defiance sank in Thunder Bay [Lake Huron] in about 200 feet of water, and it still looks like it could sail today. During our fieldwork, we were doing our decompression stops on the intact masts of one of the early workhorses of the American industrial supereconomy."
>An archaeological project is a three-stage process that starts long before the fieldwork. During the first stage, the research design stage, the archaeologist must define the scope of the project by determining the driving question and the process he wants to apply to answer it. This stage involves extensive research, reading and planning to determine the methodology and field components of the project. Grant writing and proposal drafts generally follow to seek out the much-needed expedition funding.
>After the background research is complete and the funding is secured, the fieldwork begins. In many cases the archaeologist has precise site coordinates, but sometimes he may know only the general area. If the exact location is unknown, his research is largely dedicated to collecting data to narrow the search radius. Then using technology such as a side-scan sonar system or a magnetometer, he can take to the sea by boat and scan the narrowed range in hopes of finding the wreck.
>shipwrecks from the Battle of the Atlantic off the coast of North Carolina.
>"You go up and down, basically like mowing a lawn, and hopefully you'll go over the site," Hoyt explained. "If you do, you'll see the wreck on a computer screen, and then you go back and do a more detailed survey." These surveys involve a lot of diving to develop an overall image of the site and establish a permanent record of it using photography, video logs and even baseline measurements used to draw a map.
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