13.06.2018 - Culture Sector

Lake Titicaca Underwater Cultural Heritage - UNESCO meeting will support research and museum construction


July 2018 - As part of a larger campaign to improve the protection of underwater cultural heritage in the Latin-American and Caribbean region, UNESCO will organize, in cooperation with the Bolivian Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) and the Belgian Technical Cooperation (CTB-Enabel) a Regional Workshop on this heritage in Copacabana, Bolivia.

The workshop, to take place from 4 – 6 July 2018, is aimed at national authorities in charge of the ratification and implementation of the 2001 Convention, archaeologists and the tourism sector. It will discuss scientific research, protection and the role of underwater cultural heritage in sustainable development. The workshop will also promote the ratification and implementation of the 2001 Convention in the region.

Bolivia has recently adhered to the Underwater Cultural Heritage Convention of UNESCO. The Bolivian Titicaca Project seeks to study, inventory and protect the underwater cultural heritage of Lake Titicaca, Bolivia. Among the goals of the project is the construction of a semi-submerged museum in Lake Titicaca, off Copacabana and close to Isla del Sol that will allow visitors to see the legacy hidden under the waters of the Lake.

Lake Titicaca, located in the Andes Altiplano between Peru and Bolivia, is with 3.810 m altitude the highest navigable lake in the world. It is a place of rich cultural traditions. The idea to explore the lake archaeologically is not a recent idea, as it is long known that the waters of the Lake have risen over time, burying ancient lakeside dwellings under their waves. Jacques-Yves Cousteau already explored the Lake in 1968 and Johan Reinhard researched it between 1989 and 1992. Since 2012, more strategic archaeological operations were conducted by the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) and Bolivia’s authorities. They brought to light some twenty submerged sites and more than 20,000 objects dating from the pre-Tiwanaku period (300-1150 AD) to the Inca period (1400-1532 AD). More than 220 days of investigation with more than 1.350 dives of altogether 1.609 hours were invested. Among the submerged sites found range indigenous offering places, prehistoric ports, and ancient submerged villages.

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