Human remains on underwater cultural heritage: Ethics, values and law

Dublin Core


Human remains on underwater cultural heritage: Ethics, values and law


All of the factors and complexities of the issues regarding the management of underwater cultural heritage reveal the narrow dependence between its management and the historical, sociological, cultural and traditional particularities of every country. Catastrophes creating shipwrecks frequently also cause deaths, ranging from single fatalities to disasters claiming hundreds of lives. However there is not a specific legislation dealing with the treatment of the human remains on shipwrecks. Nevertheless, the 2001 UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage includes in its definition the term human remains, which means that the same guidelines for the protection of the underwater cultural heritage preservation in situ for the public benefit are also applicable to human remains. In this regards, this paper will justify that declaring shipwrecks as funerary monuments or underwater cemeteries in most cases attracts tourism, apart from the own meaning of these sacred places, and also complies with the 2001 UNESCO Convention principles. In addition, the possibility of the treatment of human remains as intangible heritage can lead to a new whole vision for its protection and management. Underwater cultural heritage can be not only monuments to the great journey or heroic combat, but also a tool to shape the collective memory. Underwater cultural heritage can act as a trigger for a set of emotions and memory narrative.


Elena Perez-Alvaro, in Van Tilburg, H., Tripati, S., Walker Vadillo, V., Fahy, B., and Kimura, J. (eds.)



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