Underwater Cultural Heritage at Risk: Managing Natural and Human Impacts

Editor(s): Robert Grenier; David Nutley; Ian Cochran

Year: 2006


The ICOMOS International Committee on the Underwater Cultural Heritage (ICUCH) was founded in Australia in 1991 by ICOMOS Australia. The founding president was Graeme Henderson, director of the Western Australia Maritime Museum at Fremantle. The birth of the committee was in reaction to the pressing needs brought to light by the discovery and subsequent exploitation of the remains of the Titanic: it was now evident that technologies capable of working at great depth threatened both known and unknown wrecks that, up until recently, had been protected by their inaccessibility. The concept of a committee composed of international experts in underwater archaeology was thus born: this group of experts from eighteen countries had, as a goal, to assist ICOMOS International and UNESCO in promoting the protection and sound management of submerged cultural resources as an important part of humanity’s heritage.

Since underwater archaeology is a relatively new discipline, it is poorly understood in many countries and is often the object of false representations which particularly threaten the less well-to-do countries. These countries are often solicited by supposedly famous underwater archaeologists who exploit a country’s lack of knowledge of the field. ICUCH’s mission is to alleviate this lack of expertise throughout the world by acting as technical expert, by facilitating basic training in underwater archaeology and conservation of artefacts, and finally by putting pressure on countries or organisations that collaborate in the destruction of submerged heritage. The members of ICUCH are available to all: countries, organisations and individuals interested in the protection and sound management of cultural resources found underwater.

Cite this Record

Underwater Cultural Heritage at Risk: Managing Natural and Human Impacts. Robert Grenier, David Nutley, Ian Cochran. Heritage at Risk Special Edition. Munich, Germany: ICOMOS - International Council on Monuments and Sites. 2006 ( tDAR id: 375183) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8B56MQZ


General Note: ICOMOS report summarizes underwater cultural heritage management case studies from multiple locations around the world.

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