IN 1963, A GROUP OF DEDICATED AMATEURS EMBARKED ON UNDERWATER EXPLORATIONS OF THE BED OF THE RIVER LESSE WHERE IT FLOWS THROUGH THE CAVES OF HAN. THE MANY DISCOVERIES THEY MADE LED ULTIMATELY TO THE CREATION IN 1988 OF THE CENTRE DE RECHERCHES ARCHÉOLOGIQUES FLUVIALES (CRAF).
This non-profit organisation applies the methods of land-based archaeology in an underwater environment, in particular the in situ observation and recording of all finds and their surrounding environment before any item is removed. Nowadays, their work is carried out under the supervision of archaeologists. In addition to organising the dive groups (pairs of divers) who take turns excavating, these experts also oversee the vital work of the surface teams, whether based on the raft to sift the sediments brought up to them, or on the bank for finer sifting or for the recording and packing of any finds.
FIG 1 The archaeological dig on the body of water above ground (© CRAF).
FIG 2 Painstaking removal of sensitive layers using the water dredge (photo © CRAF).
FIG 3 Techniques for taking readings and notes under water (photo © CRAF).