Strata, Portraits of Humanity, Episode 14, “Youth Diving on Shipwrecks” and “Saving Cyprus Frescoes”

StrataImage-webNext up in the video news-magazine series Strata:  Portraits of Humanity, produced by AntiquityNOW’s partner, Archaeological Legacy Institute, is a segment on a group of young people learning the ins and outs of marine archaeology, and a report on the wonders revealed by restorers of a Renaissance fresco in Cyprus.

The first video shows how Biscayne National Park and the NPS Submerged Resources Center partnered with Youth Diving With a Purpose for a project on shipwreck archaeology.  Biscayne Bay offers a challenging and intriguing introduction for these young people into the mysteries of the deep and the role of marine archaeology in preserving the past.  The second video reveals how restorers are peeling back the layers of time to decipher a painting representing a tragic study in faith. For 500 years, an exquisite Renaissance fresco, the “Forty Martyrs of Sebaste,” has remained hidden, forgotten and neglected in a 14th Century church in Famagusta, Cyprus.  The video charts the painstaking work of rescuing the fresco from obscurity and ruin, a pioneering project that puts heritage above politics.  After decades of neglect, saving Famagusta’s forgotten frescoes begins.

Strata: Portraits of Humanity is a monthly half-hour video series available online and on select cable channels. Strata is a showcase for unique and diverse stories about the world’s cultural heritage. Stories come from across the globe with segments produced by Archaeological Legacy Institute and dozens of producer and distributor partners around the world.

Click on the image below to view the program on The Archaeology Channel and scroll down to see the curriculum developed by AntiquityNOW to accompany this episode’s video.

Strata December 2015


Lesson Plans


  • To discover how archaeologists and restorers uncover the past by understanding the often daunting obstacles they face, the meticulous exploratory and cataloguing processes they use, and the various tools that they employ
  • To introduce students to the value of preservation and how our understanding of the past depends to a great extent on our efforts to save the artifacts that defined ancient lives
  • To appreciate how cultural heritage connects us to our forebears, who as people of wide-ranging origins and beliefs still resonate in our lives today. Human endeavor, although shaped by the times, nevertheless binds us all.


  • To understand the elements of marine archaeology and how undersea finds expand our knowledge of human exploration and lifestyles
  • To spark students’ imaginations and enable them to immerse themselves in ancient times through storytelling
  • To appreciate  the origins and purposes of religious art or art representing beliefs and norms of a culture
  • To have students use their imaginations to depict how people in past times represented their lives, and appreciate how even in contemporary times art can still move the spirit

Lesson Plan #1

Youth Diving on Shipwrecks”

Project Idea #1 

  • The students diving in Biscayne Bay have to be precise in their explorations. Research and list the ways that marine archaeology is different from archaeology on land. How is it similar?
  • Group Discussion: Compare and contrast your lists. What appeals to you about each field?
  • Group Discussion: What would you say to someone who asks you why archaeology is important? Why is spending the time and money on explorations justified when there are other needs such reducing poverty or finding cures for illnesses?

Project Idea #2

  • Nautical fiction has long been a vehicle for storytelling.
    • Click here for a list of five books representing classic and contemporary fiction.
    • Read one of the books and write an essay (approximately 500 words) on what the author is trying to convey about the beauty and brutality of the sea. Avoid retelling the plot of the story. Instead, use an event to prove each point you are making.

Project Idea #3

  • Survival stories are fascinating, particularly because they show the power of the human spirit.
    • Click here to read real-life stories of survival.
    • Write a five-day diary as if you were one of the people in the stories above.

Project Idea #4

  • Moby Dick by Hermann Melville was based upon the true story of a whale sinking the Essex, a 19th century whaling ship. Read the novel and compare and contrast the fictional v true tale.
    • Research the whaling industry during Melville’s time.
    • Investigate the behavior of whales. Why would this whale have destroyed the ship? Is this normal behavior?
    • Why are there efforts to preserve whales today?
    • Write an essay (300-500 words) on why whales became endangered and what is being done to save them today.

Lesson Plan #2

“Saving Cyprus Frescoes”

Project Idea #1 

  • Religion and art have a long history. Click here to learn more.
  • Select some pictures of art from the website and underneath each picture write adjectives that describe what you feel when you view the object.
  • Group Discussion: Why has art been important to the human spirit? Show your pictures and explain the adjectives you wrote underneath.

Project Idea #2

  • According to the above website,

Since Antiquity, the most common type of religious art has been painting and portable sculpture. However, the form of religious art with the greatest visual impact is undoubtedly architecture. From the Egyptian Pyramids to the Stonehenge stone circle, from the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul to the Umayyad Great Mosque of Damascus, from the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem to French Gothic Cathedrals, from St Peter’s basilica in Rome to the Taj Mahal, religious authorities have consistently turned to architecture to awe and influence their congregations. Interior and exterior artistic decorations for these Christian, Islamic and Buddhist churches typically include a wide range of decorative arts, including: calligraphy, ceramics, crafts, icons, illuminated manuscripts, metalwork, mosaic, stained glass, tapestry and wood-carving.[1]

Web links:

The Forty Martyrs of Sebaste: A Unique Wallpainting Fragment Preserved through International Cooperation (World Monuments Fund)

Historic Walled City of Famagusta (World Monuments Fund)

National Park Service Submerged Resources Center

Maritime Heritage Trail, Biscayne National Park (National Park Service)

The Walled City of Famagusta: A Compendium of Preservation Studies, 2008-2012 (World Monuments Fund)

Youth Diving with a Purpose (National Park Service)



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