IKUWA7 gathered leading underwater archaeologists in Helsinki

The IKUWA – Internationaler Kongreß für Unterwasserarchäologie (International Congress for Underwater Archaeology) a global network of cooperating bodies that organizes congresses focused on underwater archaeology, held its 7th Congress in Helsinki, Finland, from 6 to 9 June 2022, 6 years after its last meeting in Australia. The Congress was organized under the patronage of UNESCO.

UNESCO contributed to the discussions by organizing a Round Table  with national and regional stakeholders and experts on the theme: “Most important challenges for the preservation or promotion of Underwater Cultural Heritage”.  The Round Table started with the keynote speech from Finland on “Underwater cultural heritage in Finland – towards the ratification of the 2001 Convention?”, followed by a wide range of international speakers: Martijn Manders (The Netherlands), Beat Eberschweiler (Switzerland), Maja Kaleb (Croatia), Diego Carabias (Chile), Helena Barba Meinecke (Mexico), Young-hwa Jung (South Korea), Brad Duncan (Australia), Lucy Semaan (Lebanon).  The discussion focused on the preservation work done, ranging from the discovery of a Neolithic bow and arrow case in the meltwater at 2756 meters above sea level in Switzerland, to the World War II wrecks preserved as sites of reconciliation and peace in Australia.  In some countries, maritime archaeology is still at its early stages in theory and practice and faces natural and anthropic challenges.

During the Congress, over 100 scientific and technical presentations were organized on 24 themes relating to maritime archaeology and underwater cultural heritage, such as ‘Shipwrecks and historical archaeology’, ‘Underwater parks and Blue Growth’, and ‘ Maritime spatial planning and maritime cultural heritage ’. UNESCO delivered a valuable presentation sharing examples of international awareness-raising initiatives, entitled ‘Public access to underwater cultural heritage and UNESCO Best Practices.’.

The IKUWA7 Congress, attended by over 200 participants, was a unique occasion to share passion and experience in underwater heritage preservation and protection with the research community and the general public. The next Congress is scheduled to take place in Ostend, Belgium, in October 2024.

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