The methodology of the AdriaS project comprises the following phases:
- defining the research methodology and procedures;
- data gathering and documenting the ships’ remains;
- study and reconstruction of the ships and their social and natural contexts;
- interpretation of the results;
Such a methodology is in line with the methodology proposed by Richard
Steffy in his manual Wooden Shipbuilding and the Interpretation of
Shipwrecks (College Station, Texas A&M University, 1994).
- The initial phase of the project defines the research methodology and procedures that will be followed and respected during its realization. They are in line with the already established methodology in the world, while fully considering the particularities of the Adriatic environment. One of the main problems that will be faced is the development of the unique vocabulary used in the study of the ships’ hulls, ships’ equipment and shipwright tools. Such a terminology has not been standardized for scientific purposes, and the lack of it inhibits communication between the Croatian experts. It also creates difficulties in understanding and explaining the terminology often expressed in languages such as English, Italian or French. The research methodology and procedures, accompanied by standardized project terminology in both Croatian and English, will be explained and illustrated using the example of the Late Roman shipwreck near the islet of Veli Školj in front of Pakoštane, and its natural and cultural/historical context.
- No matter whether we deal with ships, seafaring and shipbuilding sequences, or with their natural, historical or other context, the methodological phases always remain the same. The following phase, after defining the research methodology and procedures, refers to the process of data acquisition through field, archival or other research that provides the overview of all the available information of the studied topic. The data could be gathered directly in the field (case of Caska 2 / Trstenik 1 and Gnalić / Suđurađ shipwrecks), in the detailed documentation of the already realized systematic excavation (case of Pakoštane and Caska 1 shipwreck), re-examination of the old documentation and finds in the museum storages and displays (case of Glavat, Plavac and Nin shipwrecks) and scientific bibliography, ancient written sources and iconographic evidence (case of lemboi and liburnae). The bibliographic, archival and iconographic research is combined with all the stated ways of data acquisition.
In the case of data acquisition on the ships’ hulls during the fieldwork, the process includes the fine cleaning, marking of the elements of the ship’s construction, making observations, performing careful photographic, graphic and video recording (plan, longitudinal and transversal sections, details etc.), and sampling.In this phase the application of innovative technologies significantly improves the process of accurate and efficient data acquisition.
- Through the study and reconstruction phase the sets of data are analysed and interpreted, allowing the reconstruction of the ship’s lines, the reconstruction of the paleo-landscape and the reconstruction of cultural/historical, political and/or economic context. Not all the chosen finds are suitable for all of the reconstructions proposed. In order to provide the comprehensive reconstruction of the find and its context, the research from the beginning has to be performed as a systematic interdisciplinary sets of coordinated actions, usually requiring more than one year and a large research team. Within the AdriaS proposal such an approach is represented by the cases of Pakoštane, Caska 1 and 2, and Trstenik 1 shipwrecks, and the shipwrecks of Gnalić and Suđurađ, all researched during the last six years or still being researched through ongoing fieldwork projects. The other examples (Glavat, Plavac and Nin) demonstrate the potential for re-elaboration of old data, as well as the acquisition of new information through the study of the finds already stored in the museums. Finally, the study of the boats from the Iron Age demonstrate what could be achieved in studying the ships and their various contexts just through written and iconographic sources, or through the archaeological record not belonging to the same historical moment, but still providing important evidence for comparative studies.
In the study and reconstruction phase 3D modelling, animation and virtual reality experimentation are of extreme importance, providing us with elegant results that were impossible to achieve in the past.
- Interpretation of the obtained results of various reconstructions is the next methodological phase; this is the culmination of the integrated project. Its accuracy depends upon the state of the conservation of the finds and the surrounding nature, the accuracy of the data acquisition process and the level of study realized on the acquired data. As in the previous phases, interdisciplinary work significantly improves the quality and the credibility of the result. This interpretation, based on study and reconstruction, serves as a platform for stimulating scientific discussion at the global level, and for realizing the dissemination phase of the project.
- The dissemination process is the last methodological phase, and is of immense importance. Through this phase the results obtained in all the previous phases become available to the professional and general public, which is the project’s ultimate goal. The sustainability of nautical archaeology research, guaranteed through quality assurance and a well-managed dissemination process, is the objective that the AdriaS project promotes as one of its main advantages.