About IKUWA

Internationaler Kongreß für Unterwasserarchäologie

International Congress on Underwater Archaeology


IKUWA was founded in February 1999 in Sassnitz on the island of Rügen, on the coast of the Baltic Sea in Germany. It is a global network of cooperating bodies that organises congresses focused on underwater archaeology to raise awareness of the importance of underwater cultural heritage and to support an international regulatory framework for its protection and preservation.

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IKUWA 1:  Protection of Cultural Heritage Underwater
Sassnitz, Germany, February 1999

The first international congress for underwater archaeology (IKUWA1) was held in February 1999 in Sassnitz, Germany, with the theme Protection of Cultural Heritage Underwater. It received considerable support from the Raphael Programme of the European Union, in the context of reinforcing east-west cultural and educational ties, and was organised on the initiative of the Deutsche Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Unterwasserarchäoloqie (DEGUWA) by 7 German and 5 non-German (Switzerland, UK, Greece, Netherlands and Poland) partner organizations.

The congress was a resounding success, with wide international participation. It had a series of chronological sessions and a series of thematic sessions on subjects such as conservation, recording and management. Particular importance was given to a round table on the protection of the European underwater cultural heritage, with particular reference to the UNESCO 2001 Convention. The participants were mainly from Europe, but also from India, Israel and the U.S.A.

It was agreed at Sassnitz to inaugurate an ambitious programme of congresses to build an international network of institutions dealing with underwater archaeology. This was achieved by the holding of IKUWA2 and IKUWA3.

In collaboration with DEGUWA, the Archaeological State Museum of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern published the IKUWA1 proceedingsSchutz des Kulturerbes unter Wasser. Veränderungen europäischer Lebenskultur durch Fluß- und Seehandel. Beiträge zum Internationalen Kongreß für Unterwasserarchäologie (IKUWA '99).

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IKUWA 2:  Die Neue Sicht. Une Nouvelle lnterprétation de I'histoire
Zürich, Switzerland, October 2004

IKUWA2 was held in Zurich in October 2004. About 200 participants from 25 countries attended. The proceedings were published in 2006 as Die Neue Sicht. Une Nouvelle lnterprétation de I'histoire (A New Interpretation of History). In the days preceding the congress, a postgraduate training workshop was held, with 21 participants from 11 European countries.

The objective of IKUWA 2 was to demonstrate where and how the historical image has been changed through underwater archaeological investigations during the past decades, and which future investigations can be regarded as promising.

A postgraduate training workshop was held In the days preceding the congress, involving 21 participants from 11 European countries. It contributed to the strategic goal which was the creation of a long-term network of all European bodies which deal in underwater archaeology.

The proceedings for IKUWA2 were published in 2006 in volume 40 of the monograph series "Antiqua".

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IKUWA 3:  Beyond Boundaries        
London, England, July 2008

IKUWA3 took place under the auspices of UNESCO's Director-General. It was held at the University College London in July 2008, with the title Beyond Boundaries. The Congress saw the Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS) in conjunction with project partners, the Institute of Field Archaeologists, and the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, playing host to the largest conference on underwater archaeology ever held in Britain. Two hundred and sixty participants from over 20 different countries presented 126 papers over the three days.

IKUWA3 was preceded by a professional development field school with participants from almost a dozen nations organized by the Nautical Archaeology Society. One day before, UNESCO held a one-day intergovernmental conference in the British Academy on the 2001 Convention.

Project partners included UNESCO, the British Academy, Historic Scotland and English Heritage.

The proceedings was published in 2012.

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IKUWA 4:  Managing the Underwater Cultural Heritage        
Zadar, Croatia, October 2011

IKUWA4 was held in October 2011 in Zadar, Croatia, where the International Centre for Underwater Archaeology has been established under UNESCO's auspices. The theme of IKUWA4, Managing the Underwater Cultural Heritage, attracted some 200 participants from Europe, USA, Australia and the Asian region.

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IKUWA 5:  Heritage for Humanity       
Cartagena, Spain, October 2014

IKUWA5 was held at the Museo Nacional de Arqueología Subacuática, ARQVA, or (National Museum of Underwater Archaeology) and the Campus Muralla del Mar (Polytechnic University of Cartagena), both in Cartagena, Spain, from 15-18 October 2014. The theme was Heritage for Humanity. Sponsored by the Spanish Ministry of Culture, IKUWA5 attracted nearly 300 participants from Europe and the Mediterranean, Australia, North America, South America and Asia.

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IKUWA 6:  Celebrating our Shared Heritage      
Fremantle, Western Australia, November 2016

IKUWA6, organised under the Patronage of UNESCO, will be held at the Western Australian Maritime Museum in Fremantle from 28 November - 2 December, 2016.

This is the first time that IKUWA is held outside of Europe and in the Southern Hemisphere.

The year 2016 is significant for Western Australia (WA), it marks the 400th Anniversary of the first recorded European landing in WA by Dirk Hartog, skipper of the Eendracht. The flattened and inscribed pewter dinner plate left behind by Hartog to commemorate his voyage and landfall on 25 October 1616, including the wooden post to which it was nailed, are the earliest archaeological evidence of a European visit to Western Australia. It heralded the beginning of a series of explorations by English, Dutch and French navigators, many of whom called at Shark Bay and charted its waters.

IKUWA6 will celebrate this significant occasion for Western Australia, and explore the issues of shared heritage—crossing cultural, geographic and political borders. It will support a broad, internationally focused agenda and offers a great opportunity for IKUWA to reach new audiences, stamp its mark on the Asia-Pacific region, and exchange research, knowledge and ideas with international colleagues from around the world.

The Western Australian Museum is the official host of IKUWA6.


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