Azerbaijan International

Winter 2006 (14.4)


Perhaps Frenchman Jacques Cousteau (1910-1997), the co-developer of the aqua-lung and producer of a television series featuring underwater oceanic marvels, never realized the impact his work would have inside the Soviet Union. But Viktor Kvachidze, who organized the first underwater archaeology expeditions in Azerbaijan in the Caspian in 1969, credits Cousteau. Some serious diving was carried out from the 1970s to mid-1980s. Unfortunately, since independence (late 1991), funds have dried up. The passion is still there. Viktor shares his dream for the program to get restarted. Page 58.


In Autumn 2004, we met Norwegian Torgeir Higraff in Azerbaijan, leading some university students from Norway on a hiking expedition in the Caucasus. Never did we expect that his head was full of plans to repeat the trip that Thor Heyerdahl (1914-2002) had made with a balsa raft - the Kon-Tiki - across the Pacific in 1947. This past summer, Higraff and five crewmembers, including Thor Heyerdahl's own grandson Oleg, successfully completed their 4,000-mile journey. Driven by curiosity and resolve, here's how they did it. Their raft - the Tangaroa - will be the major exhibit in a new museum being built in Heyerdahl's hometown Larvik. Page 26.
Maud Beck from Houston, Texas, worked with UNOCAL in Baku from 1995 to 1999. Her work there made her very conscious of the value of building relationships regardless of cultural differences. These days Maud stays connected to Azerbaijan by serving as a Board Member of the Houston Baku Sister City Association (HBSCA). This organization represents the oldest Sister City link between the U.S. and Azerbaijan. Maud shares fascinating stories and photos of the first trip in 1977 that was made to Baku by Douwe de Vries and his wife Robbie of Houston 30 years ago. Page 68.

Zhenya Anichenko grew up in Russia where she majored in medieval history. On her honeymoon, she went scuba diving in Belize. "It was so beautiful - those coral reefs at 200 feet visibility," she recalls. But how to combine her old love for the Middle Ages with her new passion for diving? Maritime archaeology studies seemed to be the way. This past summer Zhenya flew to Baku from Alaska in search of Viktor Kvachidze, organizer of the first underwater archaeology expeditions in the Caspian. Here she writes her observations about the current state of Underwater Archaeology in Azerbaijan. Page 54.
Kathleen Shryock is no stranger to our magazine. Since 2001 when she and her husband Jim adopted two children from Baku, they have tried to foster an awareness and appreciation in their children for the land of their birth. Here Rachel and Lucas, now both 7, share what is becoming a family tradition as they demonstrate how to grow sprouted wheat or lentils known as "samani" - a symbol of promise and hope - traditionally grown in Azerbaijan and countries which celebrate Novruz - the First Day of Spring, March 21st. Page 18.


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