Conservation of Underwater Cultural Heritage: characteristics and new technologies


  • Jean-Bernard Memet

    1. A professional diver and expert in electrochemistry and metallic materials, Jean-Bernard Memet has spent more than ten years working in the field of saltwater corrosion and the conservation of underwater objects at the Institut Français de Recherche pour l’Exploitation de la Mer (IFREMER), La Rochelle University and Arc’Antique, for which he has participated in underwater archaeology assignments ( La Natière, the Lapérouse expeditions and the Hermione). In 2007, he set up A-CORROS, and in 2008, with Philippe de Viviès, he established a Mediterranean centre for the conservation-restoration of maritime heritage.
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The development of underwater archaeology and the increasing discovery of sites mean that conservation and restoration of this cultural heritage is essential to achieving full protection and long-term preservation of this legacy to humanity. Archaeologists and conservators must work together to study and preserve these discoveries, the fragility of which increases once removed from the water or their original context. Each profession must know the trade of the other. Archaeologists must understand the interactions between the environment and the materials in humid or submerged sites and must be ready to apply first aid techniques. The expertise of restorers must extend not only to rates of degradation and restoration and conservation techniques for different materials, but also to a first-hand knowledge of the underwater world through diving.