The Polish Maritime Museum has recently joined another, after MarMuCommerce and Lagomar, EU project – MACHU – Managing Cultural Heritage Underwater. Developing, implementing and combining techniques to locate, monitor and protect the underwater cultural heritage and making it accessible for the benefit of the people.
In the MACHU project all archaeological underwater sites along the Baltic coast of the country Mecklenburg-Vorpommern will be registered. These are obvious wrecks but also maritime constructions, submerged Stone Age sites and more. Detailed investigations about destructive processes on archaeological sites will be done in two test areas. These are the Wismar Bay as a part of the Mecklenburgian Bay in the west and the coastal waters of Ruegen Island in the east of the country. There are comprehensive new informations available about these regions from the research that have been done in the SINCOS-II-Project is concentrated there.
For decades our underwater cultural heritage has been an unused source of information because it is usually invisible and almost inaccessible. But in fact it contains spectacular and important sites and objects for the european history of civilisation, especially for the research about the using of maritime ressources and about the development of traffic routes and markets along the european coasts throughout the centuries. Because of the special conservation situation in the “wet environment” cultural objects are preserved underwater and in the sediments of the sea-bottom, that in other cases would have been destroyed. Valuable and sometimes unique objects were recovered already from prehistoric settlement sites, from shipwrecks and maritime buildings. But yet this natural situation, which we owe the existance of this cultural heritage, threat-ens and destroys it as well by dynamic processes, that run at the sea-bottom espacially near the coasts. These processes, which are sometimes caused by intervention of man, we have to recognise and understand before we can develop suitable protection meas-ures for the cultural heritage. For that we require a complete registration of the known archaeological monuments underwater and we have to monitor their condition of preser-vation.
Therefore it is the main goal of the MACHU project to built an european GIS databank, where all archaeological underwater sites of the involved states are registered. In this databank all archaeological and historical information will be combined with environmental data and sources of threat for the monuments. The specific benefits for the academic research community will be to aid the exchange of information on an international level. Moreover it shall act as a web-based interface for increasing access of our underwater cultural heritage to the general public. This knowlegde also will support the acceptance of protective measurements. Not at least the GIS based Decision Support System will aid policy makers and archaeologists to develop suitable strategies and directives for the protection of the cultural heritage underwater.
Offen the destructions at underwater sites are invisible and the reasons are not full investigated. So we have to examine the destructive processes before we can develop new programmes for the practice to protect the monuments. For that two dataloggers will be installed at archaeological underwater sites at the coast of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, which measure chemical and physical data of the surroundings for instance the salinity, temperature, current and sedimentation. Therefore changes can be recognized, that may cause destructions at the archaeological sites.
The museum was invited to join the project by its coordinator, the National Service for the Netherlands’ Archaeological Heritage. The project’s partners are universities and museums from the UK, Northern Ireland, Portugal, Denmark and Germany, while the sub-contractor for the part of work assigned to The Polish Maritime Museum is the Polish Geological Institute.
Project coordinator from The Polish Maritime Museum is Iwona Pomian – Underwater Archaeology Department Head.