23.11.2010 - Secretariat of the 2001 Convention

Experts met in China to examine ways of protecting and presenting underwater heritage sites

The Nanhai 1 Museum ©U.Guérin/UNESCO

Several of the world’s leading experts in underwater archaeology and museology met from 23 to 27 November in Chongqinq (China) to explore ways of improving protection for and especially presentation of in situ submerged archaeological sites located in the world’s lakes, rivers, seas and oceans.

The International Meeting on Protection, Presentation and Valorisation of Underwater Cultural Heritage, organised by China’s State Administration of Cultural Heritage and UNESCO took place within the framework of the International Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage. This Convention was adopted by UNESCO’s General Conference in 2001 and has since been ratified by 36 countries.

The meeting was inaugurated in presence of Mr Shan, director of the Chinese State Administration of Heritage in the Three Gorges museum. Amongst other issues, the Chinese and international participants examined the progress of and potential for developing underwater museums around sites in their original location. In the course of the Meeting, participants also visited the world’s first such museum, the Baiheliang museum close to Chongqing, which preserves and presents ancient stone carvings which would otherwise now be submerged by the consequences of the Dam project.

To learn more about the Baiheliang museumThe Baiheliang Underwater Museum.

The intense debate on recovery techniques, museology and conservation equally discussed another important Chinese museum, the Nanhai No 1 museum in Hailing, recently constructed on Hailing Island, South China. Also known as the Marine Silk Road Museum, this institution contains a sunken ship more than 800 years old in an aquarium like setting.

To learn more about the Nanhai N°1The Guangdong Maritime Silk Road Museum (Nanhai No. 1 Museum).

UNESCO has also been asked for assistance by Egypt, some of whose officials were attending the meeting in Chongqing, concerning the planning of the world’s second underwater museum that may present one day the remains of the Alexandria lighthouse and the Ptolemaic palace in Alexandria Bay, Egypt.

To read the recommandations made during the meeting, read the following document :

- English version

- Chinese version

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