The impact of mass media in the discrimination of Hispanic sunken heritage and the implementation of the UNESCO 2001 Convention

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The impact of mass media in the discrimination of Hispanic sunken heritage and the implementation of the UNESCO 2001 Convention


Sunken Hispanic heritage has been perceived sometimes just as an amount of gold and treasures. Unfortunately this widespread approach has prevented archaeologists to succeed in connecting the Hispanic-related cultural remains and shipwrecks with America’s naval archaeological record. The treasure hunting industry took advantage on this and now we regret the destruction of dozens of sites. UNESCO’s 2001 Convention for the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage (CUPCH) (henceforth the Convention) is still the only legal and cooperative framework available to avoid Hispanic sunken ships from looting and dissolving into the marketplace. This is why treasure hunters, from 2010, undertook coordinated attacks against the Convention, often displaying dishonest behaviors, as was demonstrated in Courts, and requesting to be considered fair archaeological contractors. They gathered unfavorable opinions against the Convention even from archaeologists who agree with the UNESCO criteria but want an enforcement of research and projects suggested in the Convention but are concerned about misreading "in situ" conservation as if it were "in situ" oblivion. Now a new Heritage Act in Colombia allows treasure hunting companies to dig colonial shipwrecks legally. This is a beachhead and a challenge for the Convention's signatory countries as well as for archaeologists. The more scientific standards we set, the more actively committed with research and sharing knowledge we must be.


Jesus García Calero, in Van Tilburg, H., Tripati, S., Walker Vadillo, V., Fahy, B., and Kimura, J. (eds.)





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