Underwater Cultural Heritage Conference
Who Owns Underwater Cultural Heritage?
Perspectives on archaeological law and ethics in the Mediterranean
October 22-25, 2009
This workshop presents a forum for maritime archaeologists working in territorial and international waters to discuss what ethical, legal, and practical standards should direct our collective responsibility as stewards of world cultural heritage. With its entry into force on 2 January 2009, the 2001 United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage establishes guidelines for scholarly and commercial exploration of submerged cultural remains. Of the total 29 present signatories, nine (Spain, Tunisia, Libya, Lebanon, Croatia, Montenegro, Slovenia, Albania, and Bosnia and Herzegovina) have coastlines that border the Mediterranean, the primary focus region of this workshop. Yet the maritime boundaries of modern nation-states provide a framework for jurisdiction fundamentally at odds with the ancient concept of Mediterranean cultural fluidity, especially with respect to ancient seafaring ventures, where multiple countries might claim historical links to nearly any early shipwreck and its cargo. With a focus on past experience, present policy, and future practice, this workshop brings together an international panel of experts to react to the Convention's legal framework and cooperate in developing guidelines for effective archaeological exploration in areas still largely outside its provisions. This event--the first in Canada or elsewhere to focus on the scientific and ethical complexities faced by archaeologists in this new international situation--is the first in a two-part series, with the second workshop sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania Museum's Cultural Heritage Center in March 2010.
A two-part workshop series titled, Who owns underwater cultural heritage? Perspectives on archaeological law and ethics in the Mediterranean, was convened at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario (22-25 October 2009) and at the University of Pennsylvania Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (26-28 March 2010). Over the course of the two sessions, the document below emerged through consensus of the participants to reflect principles and best practices for underwater archaeology and the stewardship of underwater cultural heritage.