25.06.2019 - UNESCO Office in Apia

Underwater Cultural Heritage Field School in Chuuk

(c)University of Guam

FSM/UNESCO Underwater Cultural Heritage (UCH) Field School took place from 7 – 22 June 2019 in Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), which became a party to UNESCO Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage in 2018. The Field School in Chuuk was led by Dr William Bill Jeffery at the University of Guam, a member of UNESCO University Network for Maritime Archaeology. Twelve officials from Micronesia took part in this training supported by numerous partners and maritime archaeologists from Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, NZ, USA, and Japan.

The Field School programme consisted of classroom sessions, study visits to UCH-related facilities and the cultural heritage sites, diving survey, report preparation, and final presentations. 

Diving down to Shinkoku Maru site found at a depth of 27 meters in the Chuuk lagoon, Michael, one of the students from Palu said, "This is my best personal deep dive record and my first actual shipwreck dive. The site was spectacular, as I would say in Palauan Tiang medel uaisei!. I got this mixed emotion exploring through the wonders of the shipwreck that got stuck in time, imagining what is like to experience, how many casualties were lost when this ship sunk during this horrific war." 

One of the key topics of the Field School was the 3D photogrammetry. Under the guidance of Dr Kotaro Yamafune, the students took photos and videos of the land-based and submerged heritage sites and combined them to make 3D models and animation. The students appreciated this exercise and expressed their wish to apply them to the heritage sites in their respective countries.

On the last day, the students made presentations of what they learned through the Field School. The distinguished maritime archaeologists and UCH experts, William Bill Jeffery, Kotaro Yamafune, Rick Chan, and Matt Carter, among others, delivered the special lectures for the students. 

"There is a great potential for running more field schools in the future because there is a need", Dr Jeffery said. "Hopefully this training will be the first of a few steps in protecting the region's UCH and showcasing its significant maritime cultural identity."  

Further reading: Safeguarding UCH in the Pacific: Report on Good Practice in the Protection and Management of WWII-related UCH" (2017) published with funding under the UNESCO Heritage Emergency Fund and Tokai University. <sub></sub><sub></sub>

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