SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Apart from the fact that this volume has taken four years to come to press, it is an outstanding and interesting publication running through a number of clear themes. Sixty-six papers in all, covering the following themes: ‘Managing Underwater Cultural Heritage’ (21 papers); ‘Nautical Archaeology’ (14 papers); ‘Maritime Landscapes’ (10 papers); ‘Freshwater Archaeology’ (6 papers); ‘New Methods’ (7 papers); and ‘Training, Education and Public Outreach’ (8 papers). It is extremely well edited, almost exclusively illustrated in colour and a credit to the publishers. The content similarly is well presented and it appears that considerable effort has been put into the editing to ensure that the style and writing is uniform, possibly explaining the long production time. Such consistency is not often seen in conference proceedings, where it seems editors want to get the publication over and done with as quickly as possible.

IKUWA 3 starts off with a transcript of Robert Yorke's remarkably frank opening speech, where he states: ‘… what I am about to say is probably not the speech that the Minister for Culture (UK) would have made, had she been able to attend’. He goes on to state ‘… the fundamental issue … is how well the underwater cultural heritage is conserved and managed for current and future generations’. He then outlines the reasons why the UK government continues to refuse to ratify the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage 2001, the objections being based on the potential weakening of sovereign immunity for its warships, and ‘significance'—the fear of a large increase in the level of financial and human resources needed to implement the Convention. In many countries, Australia included, there is the additional problem of enabling legislation. It is all very well signing the Convention, but it has to be supported by legislation that can be applied to back up the Convention and changing legislation is not an easy issue.

It is obviously not possible to deal with each paper individually, so I have outlined the subject matter in each section and then selected papers of particular interest.

The papers in the first section outline various countries’ position to managing underwater cultural heritage, and regarding the UNESCO Convention: namely China; Malaysia; Sri Lanka; Ukraine; Croatia; Netherlands; Norway; Poland; UK; the Isle of Man; and the Republic of Ireland (all signatories). Together with a number of other papers dealing with legal issues, this section deals with aircraft wrecks and general issues. There is an interesting paper by Vadi dealing with underwater cultural heritage and international investment law centring on the case of the Diana, an issue also brought up in the paper about Malaysia. In essence, it is about the court case over the sale of the Diana artefacts. The salvage company had entered into a contract with the Government of Malaysia to locate and salvage the ship and under the terms of the contract ‘artefacts directly related to Malaysian history and culture would be retained by the government, while the other recovered material would be sold at Christie's’ and the proceeds would be divided between the salvage company and the government. A dispute arose between the parties over the proceeds of the auction and the quantity of items withheld from sale. The company maintained that they had been denied their rights and claimed, in a curious way, that the contract was an investment. The argument is not well laid out and it is difficult to follow but questions if such salvage can be termed an investment. Greene and Leidwanger describe an intriguing hypothetical situation relating to the Napried, lost in 1872 with a cargo of Cypriot archaeological treasures. The authors outline the potential ‘owners’ of the wreck that could include Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Egypt, Austria, Hungary, Croatia and the US! In theory the wreck could lie in the territorial waters of the first four states, of which only Lebanon has signed the UNESCO Convention. Compared with the Diana case this could become a real legal nightmare and the paper makes clear many of the potential problems that the Convention will ultimately face. Another interesting paper, by Scott and McNeill, looks at the types of people who are involved in aviation archaeology and their interests and directions. There is a poignant paper by Peacock entitled ‘Management by Neglect’, which points up the dilemma that cultural heritage managers are faced with when dealing with the public aspiration as to what maritime archaeology should be about. The author outlines the lamentable issue of the Stirling Castle, which emerged from the Goodwin Sands in 1998 to present English Heritage with a huge problem. It took two years to issue a surface recovery license in which time large numbers of artefacts were lost. The author, rightly in my mind, states: ‘This delay was a grave misjudgement and highlighted the limitations of preservation in-situ without a pro-active mitigation strategy.’ One can see the author speculating that this situation is hopeless and maybe it would be better to involve treasure-hunters, thus at least saving something—a real ‘wake-up call’ because unless something is done to change the current situation we are likely to see a lot more people turning to the ‘dark side’. A number of papers in this section relate more to seascapes than managing cultural heritage, or lie between the two and could have been located in the maritime landscapes section.

In the second section entitled ‘Nautical Archaeology’, Tilley once again revisits the rowing arrangements of ancient warships, and suggests convincingly that the Olympias, a replica trireme, was built too heavy and that the oars are in the wrong position, accounting for the poor top rowing speed of 7.1 knots over half-a-mile compared with ancient evidence that Athenian triremes could cruise at 12 knots over 140 miles. Berry deals with the social history of a vessel in the Murray River, South Australia through a neo-Marxist theoretical framework. I wonder if the same conclusions could have been discerned using a non-neo-Marxist framework. It may have been more informative to compare the neo-Marxist interpretation with other theoretical frameworks. Gribble outlines the little-recorded contribution of foreign labour from the British colonies and elsewhere in a labour force assisting the troops in the First World War. These labourers comprised 11% of the total strength of the British Army in the war, coming from South Arica, China, Egypt, Fiji, Madagascar, Mauritius, the Seychelles and British West Indies. This aspect of the war is summarized in the investigation of the loss of the Mendi with 649 of the South African Native Labour Corps. Kelleher describes the wreck of the Santa Ana Maria in 1628 in Castlehaven Harbour, Cork, Ireland. Martin outlines the work on the Duart Point wreck, in the Sound of Mull, Scotland (probably the 1653 Swan), describing the excavation and meticulous recording and reconstruction of the interior arrangements of the vessel. Several papers in this section deal with ethnographic studies.

‘Maritime Landscapes’, the third section, seem to be everywhere—in the archaeological literature that is. The landscapes often refer to early human habitation during and after the Ice Ages, the idea being to predict where underwater sites may occur. Blackman and Lentini give an update on the work at Sicilian Naxos with details of the reconstructed boatsheds. There is also a paper by Jézégou et al. on the investigation of the Roman harbours at Narbonne using GIS that shows the changes in coastline and endorsed by geophysical surveys.

‘Freshwater Archaeology’ includes another paper on geo-referencing historical maps that is an important development in the use of GIS. In this case Fozzati et al. look at the topography of pile dwellings in Lake Garda, Italy, from old maps and earlier investigations over a 150-year period. This paper sits alongside a paper by Capulli et al. who examine GIS techniques applied to similar lake dwellings in Lake Garda. There is also an overview of Scottish crannogs by Henderson, the volume editor.

The section on ‘New Methods’ includes a number of papers on in situ preservation, a widely debated topic arising from the wording of the UNESCO Convention. There is obviously a need to address the issue, as the Convention says this is the first option, not the only one. As highlighted by Peacock this does not mean in situ preservation by neglect. It requires a number of things. Firstly, and not actually included in the Convention, it requires an assessment of a site. Is the site in danger? If so, what options are available to deal with this situation? Clearly in the case of Stirling Castle there was no plan in place and when the inevitable happened, it proved disastrous archaeologically and in terms of public relations. Such situations, where valuable archaeological information is lost, is going to play into the hands of the treasure-hunters who will inevitably cite such situations as evidence that their approach means at least that the material is preserved. Also, one has to consider that not every site in the world is going to be archaeologically excavated, so some form of in situ preservation will be necessary. While one might question the techniques being used at present where sites are excavated and the material recorded and re-buried, thus absolving the organizations and institutions from the responsibility of conservation, we do need to know what the advantages and disadvantages of the approach have so we can make an informed decision. So these papers, Palma on a scoping study on the Swash Channel wreck, Peacock et al. on reburial methods, Kokko on the Kronprins Gustav Adolf, and Auer on lessons learned in the case of the Princes Channel wreck (Gresham ship) are all valuable reading. In this section, an important paper by Satchell on maritime archaeological archives shows that there is a lack of proper recording of this information.

‘Training, Education and Public Outreach’ (section 5), an often-underestimated aspect of our field includes various case studies showing public engagement in the discipline. It is possible that this approach over many decades may create a change in the public perception of what maritime archaeology is and how it relates to the public. Ultimately, it is the public who will change things. One has only to look at the Green movement: public perceptions have been changed on a whole range of issues by the public applying political pressure.

A couple of minor points: each chapter has a number, but the table of contents does not and the sections in the contents are not indicated in the body of the publication.