Function and submission (Rule 9)

Project management should be the result of a planning phase during which the objectives of the project, methodology, strategies and resources are defined.

Any intervention on underwater cultural heritage should be preceded by the draft of a Project Design.

Ideally, the project design should be integrated into the long-term site management plan.


Scheme of the progress of a project

Scheme of a management plan



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The need of the project design


A good project design helps to prevent or successfully manage negative impacts that could arise from an activity directed at a site of underwater cultural heritage. This is important as the information contained in an underwater site is extremely fragile. Activities ranging from archaeological excavations to conservation operations can have unexpected and destructive outcomes. If disturbed, sediments deposited over many years can become unstable. Waves, currents, and sometimes ice can then remove protecting covers of sand or silt, allowing marine organisms to become more active. The result is that cultural remains and their archaeological information can be damaged or even destroyed.

All sites represent a human enterprise that can only be understood if this historical record is studied in its entirety. This means it is important to avoid hiatuses in the study process or that are caused by poor planning that do not take due account of the time, resources or financing available to the working team.




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Authorization and peer review of the project design


Rule 9 states that the project design should be submitted to the competent authorities. It is important for the information to be kept with all other information regarding the site. Archaeology and the understanding of a site are based on facts and interpretation. It is a cumulative process. With new information becoming available, interpretation needs to be reviewed. This can be  many years later. It will then again be important to know what the considerations were for an intervention and on what information and considerations the earlier interpretation was based. Another reason for submitting the project design to the competent authorities is that decisions are based on it, decisions on whether or not to grant permits, arrange funding, or allot capacity.

The way these decisions are organized varies from country to country. Sometimes it is the competent authority itself that reviews, approves or rejects, and directs or executes all archaeological projects, other times it is not. However, in any case, the project design will guide project related decisions and will make them transparent for others.

Accordingly, mentions that the project should be submitted for authorization and appropriate peer review. This may mean a formal process of peer review preceding the authorization. It certainly means, however, that the project design should be made available to the wider archaeological community. As in all sciences, discussion and debate are the basis for developing new knowledge and understanding. Since a project design should outline scientific and practical objectives, as well as the methodology to achieve these, discussion on these issues should not be avoided. On the contrary, it is important that these be available for peer scrutiny, now and in the future.

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