In Situ Protection

In situ protection means the preservation of underwater cultural heritage in its original location. The preference given by the 2001 Convention to in situ preservation does not mean a rejection of museums on land or of public access. It does only recommend as a first choice to leave archaeological sites as undamaged as possible.

The reasons to opt for in situ protection are various:

  • Laboratory treatment of water-logged elements may be expensive and time consuming, while always a risk of deterioration of material remains.
  • Museum buildings often lack room and conditions to accommodate large size wooden or metallic objects recovered from wrecks or submerged ruins.
  • The authenticity of a site, its context and its integrity cannot be guaranteed when objects are recovered from it. The special significance of heritage as testimony of an historic event as well as the attraction of the underwater environment can best be preserved by opting for in situ conservation.
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