UNITED NATIONS EDUCATIONAL, SCIENTIFIC AND CULTURAL ORGANISATION (UNESCO) & The UNESCO UniTwin Network for Underwater Archaeology
2nd Workshop on Underwater Archaeology for African Countries (12 – 23 May 2015) in Kemer (Turkey)
Purpose: the purpose of this document is to highlight some of the activities of the 2nd Workshop on Underwater Archaeology as outlined in program. Furthermore the document seeks to show the interventions that UNESCO hopes to make in relation to Underwater Archaeology.
Background: part of the build up to the 50th meeting on Underwater Archaeology in Paris at UNESCO South Africa joined in the number of member states that signed the Convention on Underwater Cultural Heritage of 2001. South Africa is one of the countries that have a long history of ship wrecks and have less Underwater Archaeology studies in the recent past fits the requirement UNESCO’s areas of intervention. With a coast line of about 2300 kilometers and more than a hundred ship wrecks around the Cape of storms. In the same vein there are very few underwater Archaeologists in the mandated institution of the Heritage regulator namely; South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA). The workshop was offered as a platform for capacity building for African countries.
Host: Selcuk University, Turkey supported by the central government through the Department of Culture and Tourism, the Turkey UNESCO National council and various partners. The hosting professor Dr. Hakan Oniz spearheaded all the logistical issues together with his team based in the new center in Kemer.
UNESCO: represented by the head of the secretariat of the Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage Dr. Ulrike Guerin, editor of the Manual for Activities directed at Underwater Cultural Heritage. She was supported by the able Arturo Da Silva as organizer and facilitator.
Lecturers and tuition: leading intellectuals in the field of Underwater Archaeology offered lectures based on their work and experience. A variety of topics and areas of study in the field were ably presented. This group of scholars carefully demonstrated the key principles of Underwater Archaeology. This laid the foundation for the work that must be done underwater when diving on wrecks and submerged sites. New forms of examining Underwater Cultural Heritage were also presented and it was emphasized that these do not substitute the traditional forms of examining archaeological sites.
The central issue of the workshop revolved around the “in situ preservation issue. Dr. Ulrike Guerin of UNESCO presented a lecture that paved the way for a better understanding of the in situ principle as articulated by UNESCO. Scholars added to the issue by presenting some of the key issues of the in situ principle debate. Ideas like excavation and intrusive measures of Underwater Archaeology were brought forward.
Diving lessons and practice were organized in the second week where two important ideas were taught. The idea of safety underwater was taught, in the main, by Diving Network specialists who offered lessons on diver first aid procedures and the elimination of bubbles in the blood circulation system. The second part of the diving lessons revolved around making use of Underwater Archaeology techniques. Techniques such as photography, measuring, drawing and cleaning the site were put to practice.
Ceremonies: Organizers hosted a welcome gala dinner for the participants. It was supported by the ministry of Culture and Tourism. Here there was good representation from the national council of UNESCO in Turkey. A certification ceremony was organized at the end of the second week. Here both UNESCO and Selcuk University handed participation certificates to all participants.
Two outings were organized over the two weekends; one was a tour of the ancient city called Clup Phaselis and the other were tours of Antalya Aquarium and Antalya Museum.
Conclusion: the workshop better equipped participants in dealing with issues of Archaeological importance. The logistical arrangements were anchored at the new center in Kemer under the leadership of Dr. Hakan Oniz. It was a diverse and well connecting session of the affected disciplines. This workshop afforded me the grand opportunity of coming into contact with practitioners from the continent and leading scholars in the field. I am thankful RIM and the South African state party for this opportunity.