The looting and pillaging of shipwrecks, the historical importance of the submerged relics of the First World War or of Kublai Khan’s fleet in Japan and the challenges of teaching underwater archeology at universities: these are just some of the topics to be discussed during the Exchange Day on Underwater Cultural Heritage, organized by UNESCO at its Paris Headquarters on May 27 (10-18h, Room I).
The event, intended to highlight the dangers threatening submerged cultural heritage and the need to preserve it, will be opened by the Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova and the Director of Fine Arts, Cultural Heritage, Libraries and Archives at the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport in Spain, Pedro Jesús Prieto.
It will bring together international experts, including Michel L'Hour, Director of the Department of Underwater Archaeological Research (France); Xavier Nieto Prieto, Director of the National Museum of Underwater Archeology (Spain); Kenji Nemoto, Professor at the Tokai University Department of Marine Science and Technology (Japan); and Elianne Martínez, Director of the Archeology Department of the Commission on the Cultural Heritage of the Nation (Uruguay).
The symposium will conclude with a preview of "Le secret du trésor de Bassas da India” (The Secret Treasure of the Bassas da India), a documentary by Karel Prokop, co-produced by the Franco-German channel Arte and Constance Films, under the patronage of UNESCO (19:00, Room I). The film, which will be broadcast on Arte on June 1 at 8:40 pm, tells the story of the search to locate and safeguard the wreckage of the Santiago, which sank in the Indian Ocean in 1585, taking the crew and a cargo of 400,000 coins with her.
The Exchange Day precedes the fourth Meeting of States Parties to the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage, which will take place the following day ( 28 May). Adopted in 2001, and since then ratified by 43 States, this Convention provides the framework for improved protection of underwater cultural heritage.
Underwater Cultural Heritage is also the subject of a photographic exhibition currently on display on the railings around UNESCO Headquarters.
Agnes Bardon, UNESCO Press office
Tel : +33 (0) 1 45 6817 64,
E-mail : a.bardon(at)unesco.org