2017 Session 1: Underwater and Maritime Archaeology and Capacity Building in the Pacific Islands

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2017 Session 1: Underwater and Maritime Archaeology and Capacity Building in the Pacific Islands


The Pacific Ocean contains a wealth of underwater cultural heritage (UCH) spanning human history from the Stone Age to the atomic age. Since the first Pacific UCH Workshop held in Solomon Islands in 2009, the Pacific island nations have been progressing in the implementation of the Pacific UCH Programme by awareness raising, research and capacity building activities through inter-disciplinary cooperation and promoting synergy with the Pacific World Heritage and Intangible Cultural Heritage Programmes. Notable progresses include, among others, the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Outcome Document of the 3rd UN International Cooperation on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) (Samoa, 2014) that contains references to the importance of UCH for sustainable development of SIDS and SIDS ratification of the UNESCO Convention for the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (2001), as well as the enhanced cooperation between universities in the Pacific islands and professional training institutions through UNESCO University Twinning and Networking Programme (UNITWIN) for Underwater Archaeology.

With this as its background, the session “Underwater and maritime archaeology and capacity building in the Pacific Islands” will be held with the aims to: i) share information on recent progress in awareness raising, research and capacity building activities in underwater and maritime archaeology in the Pacific Islands, ii) identify priority actions, iii) foster partnership for regional and international cooperation. The session especially welcomes presentations focusing on the protection and management of UCH belonging to indigenous community shared UCH in the Pacific, addressing challenges and opportunities facing Pacific SIDS in the implementation of the Pacific UCH Programme and the promotion of the UCH Convention, presenting good practice in ensuring the effective engagement of Pacific island countries and community in UCH management for their sustainable development, and proposing collaborative projects in this area.


Akatsuki Takahashi
UNESCO Office for the Pacific States, Samoa
Andrew Viduka, Maritime and Commonwealth Heritage, Australian Government,
Nicolas Bigourdan, Western Australian Museum

Collection Items

Andrew Viduka introduces Session 1.

Trade in Ceramics on Guam in the Wake of the Manila Galleon
Various colonial factors led to the Mariana Islands being one of the most economically isolated areas of the Pacific from the late 17th century until the late 18th century. This isolation is reflected in the dearth of artifacts of European and Asian…

Building Capacity in the South West Pacific – The Norfolk Island Maritime Archaeological Association
The Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy administers the Commonwealth Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976 and the National Historic Shipwrecks Program. This Program enables the Department to work with the States, the Northern…

Exploring the Sunken Military Heritage of Midway Atoll
Following the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the Japanese Imperial Navy readied their forces to secure the Pacific Theatre through one final blow to the US aircraft carrier fleet. The target of that attack was the US base at Midway Atoll,…

The Sacred and Cultural Maritime Sites of Fiji-An Inventory in the Making
The Fiji Museum Archaeology Department, since 2015, has begun inventorying the different underwater and maritime sites in Fiji. Ratification of the 2001 UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage and review of the…

Lata’s Wayfinding System and Climate Science
The cultural vision and history of Taumako extends far beyond their Duff Islands, the SE Solomons region, or the western Pacific. According to the people of Taumako, their ancestor Lata, was the first person to build and sail a voyaging canoe.…

From safe haven to island abandonment - impacts of the growth of Pacific shipping on the Pitcairn Island community during the 19th century
The story of the Bounty mutiny is one of the great sagas of Pacific history and has inspired a rich literature for more than two centuries. By contrast, our knowledge of the community founded by Fletcher Christian at Pitcairn Island has remained…

Reinterpretation of Stone Fish Weirs mentioned to Freycinet in 1819 on Guam
In 1819 the French Corvette L’ Uranie anchored off Apra Harbor on Guam where its captain Louis Claude de Freycinet was told of the former presence of stone fish weirs, no longer in use. Archaeological surveys of Apra Harbor tidal flats identified…
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