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An Interview with Lucie S. Vidlickova, Co-founder of EMMAF

An interviewer from EMMAF sat down with Lucie S. Vidlickova, co-founder of the Eastern Mediterranean Maritime Archaeology Foundation, to discuss the original idea which led to EMMAF’s creation and the main aims of its website. Here is what Lucie had to say.

How was the idea of the Eastern Mediterranean Maritime Archaeology Foundation born?
L.S.V. The idea for EMMAF was born at least a year ago (2009), soon after I started research for my thesis at the University of Crete. I was reading a lot about maritime archaeology. At the same time I became acquainted with the current state of this discipline in Greece. I was surprised at how difficult it was to access certain sources of information, especially for those who cannot read Greek. Maritime archaeological research taking place in Greece is often presented only at the universities or meetings of institutions which are directly involved in that research. Rarely does it appear in English publications and periodicals. Therefore, the basic idea was to inform both scientists and the public about current developments in maritime archaeology in Greece.

Which areas in the eastern Mediterranean does the project cover?
L.S.V. We started with Greece (the southern Euboean Gulf) and Turkey (Cape Gelidonya). We are also planning to cover by the end of October the deepest wreck site in the eastern Mediterranean, which is located in international waters. It was discovered by David Jourdan in 1999. The next step will probably be Egypt and then if we grow as a team, more eastern Mediterranean countries may follow. I also hope to put on the website the work of Mr. Spondylis and Mr. Agouridis, who have their own projects this summer in Greece.

Why was 10th of October 2010 selected for the launch of the site?
L.S.V. This was a combination of luck and purposeful intention on my part. At first, when we started to discuss the site’s design and what material we would have on it, I found the John Morrison Memorial Fund for Hellenic Maritime Studies. I put in an application to the British School at Athens and they replied a week or two later with a positive answer. I also wanted to make sure that we would launch the site during the celebration for the 50th anniversary of the pioneering work done at Cape Gelidonya, which took place this summer. It was a big honor for me to discuss my research and this idea with George F. Bass, who returned this summer to Cape Gelidonya. I was happy that he agreed to share his long-life experience with us in an interview included in this website. George F. Bass spent his summer working in Turkey with little access to the internet and I was in the southern Euboean Gulf (June/July) with the team of Giorgos Koutsouflakis, so we were both unreachable. Finally I realized that it would be better if we pushed the opening of the site till the end of September, when our research will be over and we will all be at home. The project’s launch was finally moved back  to 10/10/2010 after I joined the project of the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in the northern Sporades, and was not able to complete any final changes until my return to Athens.

Who is involved in the project?
L.S.V. This is a very important question. Originally there were three founders, myself and two IT professionals. But one of them went to Holland for a good job and his new responsibilities did not allow him to concentrate on the site. So myself and Nikolaos Kontakis are the two remaining founders. Nevertheless, without the interest and cooperation of maritime archaeologists, who are willing to share information about their ongoing projects, we would not be able to prepare the website, so the main thanks go to the archaeological contributors. Of much of help also is the fact that Kristian Lorenzo has joined the project. He is the only native English speaker on the team and thus indispensable. Even though we are all fluent in English, I believe that text editing is very important and that only a native speaker can do the work properly. Furthermore, Kristian is an archaeologist who handles the terminology without any problems. We definitely look forward to cooperating with more archaeologists ,as well as other members of EMMAF who will be able to join the team and make future contributions.

How would you describe the main aims of the website?
L.S.V. The main aims are associated with the problems I mentioned above. I believe that maritime archaeology is a discipline which deserves much more attention than it has been given, especially in Greece where important information is still inaccessible to the general public. When you do not promote an archaeological site, the acquisition of funding necessary for any kind of research becomes impossible. Maritime archaeology in the eastern Mediterranean has great potential for both archaeologists and historians. For example, with the study of merchant wrecks our understanding of the ancient economy can increase dramatically. Cooperation in the field of maritime archaeology seems to me to be even more important than in terrestrial archaeology. I was a part of a project in the southern Euboean Gulf this summer, and there I realized just how important it is for the director of the project to have a good team. When you work on an excavation at a depth 44 m, you really need to be sure that you can rely on your team; the same goes for the people who work on the project for the first time. I had a great experience in the southern Euboean Gulf. The team of Giorgos Koutsouflakis was not only professional but also friendly. The experience inspired me. I am sure we will keep up the good work and stay in touch with maritime archaeologists who are conducting fieldwork in the search for new information to better interpret and illuminate history.