Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology

2014 Edition
| Editors: Claire Smith

Underwater Cultural Heritage: International Law Regime

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-0465-2_1929


The greatest museum of human civilization lies on the seabed. Until the nineteenth century, almost 5 % of all seagoing ships were lost every year, be it for storms, incidents of navigation, or naval battles.

Today, the capacity of some states and private entities to use advanced technological means to explore the seabed at increasing depths – for instance, the wreck of the Titanic was found in 1985 at 3,798 m below the sea level – not only allows access to a huge cultural heritage but also entails the risk of such heritage being looted or used for private commercial gain.

Key Issues

Different Models in National Legislation

Different approaches can be found in national legislation, based on the priority that the states concerned give to public or to private interests. A few examples are given hereunder.

In Italy, the underwater cultural heritage found within the 12-mile territorial sea falls under falls under the general regime set forth in the “Code of Cultural Properties...

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Further Reading

  1. Camarda, G. & T. Scovazzi. (ed.) 2002. The protection of the underwater cultural heritage - legal aspects. Milan: Giuffre.Google Scholar
  2. Dromgoole, S.(ed.) 2006. The protection of the underwater cultural heritage – national perspectives in light of the UNESCO Convention 2001. Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar
  3. Garabello, R. & T. Scovazzi.(ed.) 2003. The protection of the underwater cultural heritage - before and after the 2001 UNESCO Convention. Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar
  4. O’Keefe, P. 2002. Shipwrecked heritage: a commentary on the UNESCO Convention on Underwater Cultural Heritage. Leicester: Institute of Art and Law.Google Scholar
  5. Strati, A. 1995.T he protection of the underwater cultural heritage: an emerging objective of the contemporary law of the sea.The Hague: Springer.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International LawUniversity of Milano-BicoccaMilanItaly