Journal of Maritime Archaeology

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 369–389 | Cite as

Capacity Building in Maritime Archaeology: The Case of the Eastern Mediterranean (Cyprus, Lebanon and Egypt)

  • Stella DemestichaEmail author
  • Lucy Semaan
  • Ziad Morsy
Original Paper


This paper discusses maritime archaeological resources in three eastern Mediterranean countries, where the discipline is relatively young: Cyprus, Lebanon, and Egypt. Emphasis is given to capacity building, through discussion of good practice and constraints that can be documented during the last two decades on diverse levels: education and training, governance, legislation, and public awareness. Although the three countries share cultural and socio-political backgrounds, the vast majority of the activities described in this paper are country-specific and too recent for their impact to be evaluated. Therefore, the authors place the focus on the processes rather than the results. Through a comparative analysis of local maritime archaeological histories and contemporary realities, they distinguish some key factors for the sustainability of maritime archaeological capacity building: locally based administrative and scholarly institutions, external funding, and public archaeology programmes to enhance appreciation of the maritime cultural heritage by local communities. It is also demonstrated that wars during 1970s and 1990s, in Cyprus and Lebanon respectively, have created unfavourable conditions for the development of maritime archaeology, whereas in Egypt emblematic underwater projects, international synergies and funding, as well as locally-based research and educational institutions, seem to have created a more responsive socio-political landscape for building capacity in maritime archaeology.


Capacity building Maritime archaeology Eastern Mediterranean Public archaeology Underwater cultural heritage 



The authors would like to express their gratitude to the Honor Frost Foundation (HFF), for several reasons. It has supported their participation in the Sixth International Congress for Underwater Archaeology (IKUWA6) in Fremantle, Australia, where they presented three different papers in a session called ‘Maritime Archaeology, Capacity Building and Training in the Developing World’; this article distils the essence of the main ideas discussed in these papers. HFF has also supported the authors’ respective careers in different ways and on many levels, all essential for them and crucial for building on their current capacity. Lucy Blue and Colin Breen co-organized the session on capacity building in Fremantle; we cannot thank them enough for having invited us to participate. Special thanks are owed to Lucy Blue in particular, for generously offering her valuable guidance and feedback on this paper. All errors or oversights, however, remain our own.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of History and ArchaeologyUniversity of CyprusNicosiaCyprus
  2. 2.Honor Frost FoundationLondonUK
  3. 3.Centre for Maritime Archaeology, Faculty of Arts and HumanitiesUniversity of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK

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