13.10.2016 - Culture Sector

October 2016: UNESCO National Underwater Cultural Heritage Training closes successfully in Madagascar

San Marie © F. Osada

In October 2016 UNESCO organized, in the framework of the 2001 Convention and with the support of Ministry of Culture of Madagascar, training on the management and protection of underwater cultural heritage. It was addressed to the Malagasy culture professionals responsible for the protection of submerged remains of archaeological heritage.

The training included an introduction to underwater archeology and highlighted the different phases of implementation of an evaluation project of submerged archaeological sites, following the standards of the 2001 Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage. The workshop provided tools necessary to understand the different topics related to underwater cultural heritage, recording methods and protection and its importance for society and future generations. It ran for 10 days, combining theoretical and practical sessions at sea, based on international scientific guidelines issued by the 2001 Convention. The program followed the UNESCO training manuals for the management of underwater cultural heritage, adapted to the specific needs of participants. The training focused on underwater archaeological sites in the Bay of Salary, notably the wrecks of Winterton (1792), Carmo (1774) and Surprise (1885). Practical sessions and dives took place, according to the level of experience of the participants and the environmental conditions in these three archaeological sites. The dives were accompanied by discussions with the local population and by registration practice of archaeological data on land and under water. The training also provided participants with the tools to develop a national inventory of underwater cultural heritage.

The training was part of a series of activities to support the Madagascar government following its recent ratification of the 2001 Convention. Following a first emergency mission of the Convention’s Scientific and Technical Advisory Body (STAB) in April 2015 concerned with historic shipwrecks on the island of Sainte-Marie, UNESCO and the Ministry of Culture of Madagascar organized in December 2015 a National Meeting on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage. It established a comprehensive national action plan to address the recommendations made by the STAB. This national plan will now advance the implementation of the 2001 Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage. Among the immediate actions approved during discussions of this national meeting, was the implementation of training activities within the framework of UNESCO and the 2001 Convention.


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