Marine archaeologists have developed new techniques and guidelines for locating, assessing and managing Europe’s underwater cultural heritage.
Questions this practice may help answer
- What tools and approaches might be relevant for addressing the protection of underwater cultural heritage?
- Where are underwater archaeological sites located?
The tool was develop within the frame of the SASMAP project. The aims and achieved objectives of the project were directly related to the current philosophy within maritime archaeology to preserve underwater cultural heritage in situ, that is to say where it lies on or in the seabed. Within Europe, this philosophy has been politically strengthened by the Valetta treaty (1992) and internationally by UNESCO’s Convention for the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (2001). Both these treaties advocate that, as a first option, the underwater cultural heritage should be protected in situ and, where possible, non-destructive and non-intrusive methods to document and study these sites in situ should be used.
Aspects / Objectives
The project was to develop tools and technologies for locating and mapping underwater archaeological sites and identifying their preservation potential.
The tools used to developed these manual ranged from satellite scanning of potential sites to detailed multi-beam and shallow seismic surveying of identified targets. Data from these non-destructive studies was applied to a geographical information system (GIS) in order to locate archaeological sites and areas threatened by natural seabed erosion.
Main Outputs / Results
The results are two guideline manuals. The first guideline manual explains the process of archaeological research in light of development-led archaeology and is aimed at policymakers, practitioners and people who work with cultural resource management who are not necessarily archaeologists. The second guideline manual outlines the general methods available for locating, surveying, assessing, monitoring and preserving underwater archaeological sites, with particular reference to the new methods developed within the project.
Both the methodology and the recommendations from the manuals are applicable in other areas in Europe due to the cross-border approach taken.