世界の水中考古学者から日本の皆様へ (4)

Jean-Yvesさんとは一度ポルトガルで一緒に作業をしたことがあります。帰りは空港まで送ってもらいました。 さて、Jean-Yvesさんは詩のように書いてくれました。シェークスピアが好きなんでしょうか?

Underwater Archaeology: Exploring the World Beneath the Sea (Discoveries)
Underwater Archaeology: Exploring the World Beneath the Sea (Discoveries)

Sunken beauties

人は長い船旅の後で荷物を船から降ろしてすぐ、その船のことを忘れてしまう。 人はあくどい主人のようにつらい旅の間に付き添ってきた船を壊し、まだ使える木材を売り払ってしまう。同じように池や川で使われた木製の家来も同じ運命をたどる。船は見えないインクで水の上に歴史を書き、その証拠を流れ続ける人類の歴史に刻む。うっすら残るのは過去の航海の物語と言い伝え、それさえも現在の“陸”の社会に埋もれていく。

貿易ルートなどGIS(ジオグラフィカル インフォメーション システム)でみると人々の交流の歴史が見えてくる。海洋考古学の試練は本来誰もが知っていた、ゆったりと発展した海の歴史を現在のファーストペース社会に呼び戻すことである。過去をを眺めたとき、航海史はデータ・資料の少ない無数の出来事が点々と折り合わさって出来上がっているように見受けられる。数少ない情報からでも我々の祖先が歩んできた道を海洋考古学者は“忘れられた偉大なる航海の歴史”として現在に蘇らせる事が出来る。


Jean-Yves Blot, Peniche, Portugal, May 3d, 2005.

Sunken beauties

Man is a stubborn sailor who tends to forget his ship once he drops his bag on land when back from a long voyage.

Man is a cruel master who breaks his ship down to pieces and sell it for scrap wood after a long and faithful carrier at sea.

The same applies to old wooden servants along theforgotten shores of lakes and rivers.

Ships themselves tend to write history with an invisible ink on the endless manuscript of water, leaving no permanent traces on the ever moving liquid hemisphere of human history.

What remains at the very end are the faint human memories of past marine voyages and former sailing glories, all soon buried into the turmoil of land modernity.

The final situation leaves us facing a most uncommon challenge which modern times have brought out of science-fiction and into feasible dreams.

As a mosaics of islands facing continental Asia, Japan does not escape the great cultural and technological challenge of nautical archaeology.

As a modern country, it is probably very hard to make people realize than the most uncommon feature of modern Japan may be to have preserved until the present some of the oldest form of human circulation on a surface of water: wooden dug-outs, boats built out a single tree trunk,away from the geometric subtleties of planks, keels or frames.

While wooden dug-outs prove to be very unstable for long
sea-crossings, crude simple wooden rafts have proven they could support men into long sea voyages much before the emergence of the ship several millennia ago.

With the coming of ships as a sophisticated wooden assemblage, some five millennia ago, Man increased the communication networks and established direct contacts between remote shores. A profitable terrain
had emerged for merchants of all times knowing that any cargo could be transported on water at 1/50th of the cost of a similar cargo transported on land, a rule that modern managers still apply to-day with modern tankers or freighters.

Seen from the computer screen of a modern GIS (Geographical Information System), sea routes of the past appear as major traffic lanes within the past network of human communications and commerce.

The challenge brought to humanity by nautical archaeology thus consists in reviving some of the most fundamental items of the forgotten past and bring those glorious slow-paced ghosts back into the hasty present.

Seen from the horizon of history, a sea voyage of the remote past appears as an heroic feat sewn into the emptiness of data.

Searching for the scant traces of these former steps of human predecessors, nautical archaeologists bring back to modern societies some of their most invisible testimonies, wooden ships suddenly transformed into glorious temples of the nautical past.

One of the most challenging tasks for researchers will probably be to melt down into a common stream the riches of the Japanese past and fragile present and bring the works of Japanese nautical ethnographers like A. Deguchi within a broader nautical universe tying the hazy
remains of early prehistorical evidence with the more visible but not less intriguing remains of the medieval past and later period.

Such historical fresco does include the creative past challenges of Japanese shipbuilders melting down foreign shipbuilding influences within the idiosynchratic moulds of local craftsmanship as evidenced by the early XVIIth century three-masted Shuin-sen which deserves a research of his own.

Last but not least, searches of this kind provide to their actors one of the most exhilarating feelings any human being may experience within the field of historical sciences, a formerly inaccessible physical universe blown opened to human eyes, half a century ago, by the
emergence of modern underwater and diving technologies.

Jean-Yves Blot, Peniche, Portugal, May 3d, 2005.

Thank you very much Jean-Yves. Hope to see you soon again!


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