ABSTRACT

As the new Millennium gets underway developments in technology are facilitating ever cheaper access to around 98% of the ocean floor As well as the commercial opportunity that this is designed to promote, access brings with it various threats to the vast amount of cultural materials, including shipwrecks, that have come to rest on the seabed over the millennia For beyond the legislative regimes applied in various State territorial seas, very little protection and control of the cultural heritage is currently possible In short it is perfectly legal to treat archaeological sites in ways that would be inconceivable on land (or within most territorial seas) Collectively these threats, that Include various forms of prospecting, mining and deepwater trawling, are having increasing Impacts on submerged archaeological remains In addition, a more specific threat is developing In the form of a growing number of consortia around the world who target shipwreck sites beyond the diving range, not for the purposes of research but for financial gain Archaeologists obviously seek to mitigate these impacts but if their protestations are to be heard by legislators, political administrators and funding bodies, they and the research community in general must themselves demonstrate a will and an ability to capitalize on a harvest of new research opportunities unparalleled since the deluge of scuba-led discoveries after WW II This paper will look at recent projects that demonstrate well configured research and hence the capabilities of the research community It is proposed that these projects offer a template for future, ethically responsible work

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