DOI: 10.3390/heritage6120403 ISSN: 2571-9408

The Evolution of the Concept of Underwater Cultural Heritage in Europe: A Review of International Law, Policy, and Practice

Alessio Calantropio, Filiberto Chiabrando
  • Materials Science (miscellaneous)
  • Archeology
  • Conservation

Underwater cultural heritage (UCH) is a diverse and valuable resource that includes shipwrecks, sunken cities, and other submerged archaeological sites. It is an important part of human history and culture and can significantly benefit society. However, various factors often neglect and threaten UCH, including climate change, pollution, and human activities. Several factors, including technological advances, the development of international law, and the growing awareness of the importance of cultural heritage, have influenced the evolution of the concept of UCH. In the early days of underwater archaeology, the focus was on recovering artifacts and treasures from shipwrecks. However, over time, there has been a shift towards a more holistic approach to the management of UCH, which emphasizes the importance of in situ preservation and the involvement of local communities. This review provides a chronological analysis of the evolution of the concept of UCH over the past 70 years and examines the main international conventions and charters developed to protect UCH. The review also discusses the relationship between UCH and marine protected areas (MPAs), the marine environment, and the coastal landscape.

More from our Archive