Today, I went with Chris to one of the archives here in Marseille to help him with his work. It was my first time at an archive, and I have to say, it was quite interesting.
Chris and I walked into the archives, he helped me get a temporary pass card into the archives, and then we headed to the stinky locker room to put our bags away. We were not allowed to take bags into the main room.
The main room where we worked was a lot more impressive than the rest of the archives I walked through. There were long sturdy wooden tables, wooden rafters above us, and lots of light from the windows. It was very hot in there, but we got use to it after a while.
Chris went up to the desk and "ordered up" some books. Chris takes digital pictures of the pages in the books and then goes back through and translates the information. Some of the pages are in Latin, some in French, and a few are even in Provencal...which he can't read. The books are registers of council meetings from the 1300's. The handwriting on some were elaborate and beautiful, and others, it was just as bad as Chris' signature. :) Some of the pages have been destroyed due to water or other things, so that makes Chris' job much more difficult. There are pages made out of paper and some made out animal hide.
Looking through these old documents was quite fascinating! It was almost like a treasure hunt....looking for interesting things about piracy. Of course, Chris had to look and I just admired the writing and found the doodles to the sides hilarious. You could tell how boring some of those meetings were based on the kinds of doodles to the side.
I helped take pictures or hold the pages flat while Chris snapped photos. We spent the afternoon doing that and got quite a bit accomplished.
Once we get the pictures uploaded...I will have to post a few of them so you know what I'm referring to and you can see what kinds of things Chris works with.