Flinders joins underwater archaeology network

Flinders maritime archaeology students could soon find themselves diving on shipwrecks or underwater heritage sites in Turkey, Egypt or Denmark, thanks to the University’s membership of an international network.

The Maritime Archaeology Program at Flinders has become the fifth full member of UNESCO’s University Twinning and Networking (UNITWIN) Program for Underwater Archaeology, which was established last year.

The other four members are Alexandria University in Egypt, Selçuk University in Turkey, Syddansk University in Denmark and the University of Southampton in the UK. Flinders’ membership was endorsed officially at the Network’s first meeting, held in Turkey in May.

Flinders archaeology lecturer Dr Wendy Van Duivenvoorde said the member universities will co-operate globally to establish research and teaching programs in maritime archaeology and underwater cultural heritage.

She said Flinders’ participation would create a range of opportunities for student exchanges in field work, intensive topics and semesters of study, and for staff to undertake sabbatical visits.

While the opportunities to dive on sites associated with ancient cultures has an immediate appeal for Australians, Dr Van Duivenvoorde said that there also is strong interest among overseas institutions in Australia’s more recent underwater archaeological heritage and history.

“For those people who want to specialise in the early modern period, Australia is a great place to get experience in maritime archaeology, conservation, and underwater cultural heritage management,” Dr Van Duivenvoorde said.

Dr Van Duivenvoorde said a recent meeting of UNESCO’s scientific and technical advisory board had identified a range of research questions among the nations which had ratified UNESCO’s 2001 Convention for the Protection of Underwater Archaeology.

“They have specified a number of projects that they would like researched, and that is something the UNITWIN members can tap into,” she said.

Other marine archaeology programs have expressed an interest in joining the network and the membership is expected to expand in coming years.

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