How China uses shipwrecks to weave a history of seaborne trade that backs up its construction of a new maritime Silk Road

via South China Morning Post, 29 November 2017: The Asia-Pacific Regional Conference on Underwater Cultural Heritage is currently underway in Hong Kong, with many participants from Southeast Asia. This report from the SCMP focuses on China’s emerging role as a leader in maritime archaeology and its potential implications for its power.

This week, more than 100 of the region’s leading marine archaeologists from 23 nations convened at the Hong Kong Maritime Museum for the Asia-Pacific Regional Conference on Underwater Cultural Heritage. At the opening reception on Monday night, the meteoric rise of China as a force in maritime archaeology was one of the popular topics of discussion.

Source: How China uses shipwrecks to weave a history of seaborne trade that backs up its construction of a new maritime Silk Road

Follow the Asia-Pacific Regional Conference on Underwater Cultural Heritage #apconf2017

The Asia-Pacific Regional Conference on Underwater Cultural Heritage is currently underway in Hong Kong until the end of the week. If you are on Twitter you can follow the proceedings with the hashtah #apconf2017 (or see the feed below)

The race to save up to 50 shipwrecks from looters in Southeast Asia

via The Conversation, 16 November 2017:

More than 48 shipwrecks have been illicitly salvaged – and the figure may be much higher. Museums can play a key role in the protection of these wrecks, alongside strategic recovery and legislative steps.

Source: The race to save up to 50 shipwrecks from looters in Southeast Asia

Thai Treasure Divers Lose Out to Economic Growth

via NHK World, 07 November 2017: An interesting video story from NHK World about the underwater salvagers who operate in the Chao Phraya River that cuts through Bangkok.

Running through central Bangkok is the Chao Phraya River. On it is the city’s largest floating village, Mittakham. About 300 people live there. The community is estimated to be about 100 years old.

A development project means the community is scheduled to be torn down. Its residents are being forced to move from the river that’s given them their livelihoods for generations.

One of them is 53-year-old Jamroen Bua-Sri. Every day, he puts on a steel helmet and goes into the river to hunt for antiques and other treasures. He’s one of about 40 such divers. The river was a crucial trade route linking the ancient capital of Ayutthaya to China and other Asian countries, so it’s surprising what can turn up.

“My grandfather was a fisherman. One day, he found something in the river, and there were people who paid for it. So he began to search for lost treasures in the river,” says Jamroen. He has salvaged more than 10,000 items. He says this is an amulet from the early Ayutthaya Kingdom period that ended in the mid-1700s. Some artifacts retrieved by the divers have even gone into national museum collections.

Source: Thai Treasure Divers Lose Out to Economic Growth – Editor’s Picks – News – NHK WORLD – English

Massive grave robbing in Southeast Asian seas

via The Guardian, 03 November 2017: 40 shipwrecks, mostly war graves, in Southeast Asian waters have been found to be illegally scavenged at unprecedented rates.

Dozens of warships believed to contain the remains of thousands of British, American, Australian, Dutch and Japanese servicemen from the second world war have been illegally ripped apart by salvage divers, the Guardian can reveal.

An analysis of ships discovered by wreck divers and naval historians has found that up to 40 second world war-era vessels have already been partially or completely destroyed. Their hulls might have contained the corpses of 4,500 crew.

Governments fear other unmarked graves are at risk of being desecrated. Hundreds more ships – mostly Japanese vessels that could contain the war graves of tens of thousands of crew killed during the war – remain on the seabed.

Source: The world’s biggest grave robbery: Asia’s disappearing WWII shipwrecks – The Guardian

Underwater archaeology in Papua

via CNN Indonesia, 18 October 2017:

Pulau Papua dikelilingi oleh perairan yang luas, dan memiliki tinggalan arkeologi bawah air. Selama ini di Papua belum pernah dilakukan penelitian arkeologi bawah air, hal ini disebabkan oleh keterbatasan peralatan dan sumberdaya manusia.

Berbeda dengan penelitian arkeologi di daratan, penelitian arkeologi bawah air membutuhkan dana lebih besar untuk membeli peralatan, akses ke lokasi, serta tingkat kesulitan tinggi untuk penelitian arkeologi bawah air.

Papua memiliki potensi tinggalan arkeologi bawah air di antaranya kapal perang maupun pesawat terbang peninggalan Perang Pasifik terdapat di perairan Papua dan Papua Barat. Kapal peninggalan Perang Pasifik milik Amerika, The Junkyard terdapat di perairan Pulau Amsterdam. Pesawat tempur Zero di perairan Pulau Rippon, Wandamen. Pesawat Amerika P47-D Razorback di Pulau Wai, Raja Ampat.

Source: Mengintip Kekayaan Arkeologis Bawah Air di Papua

Hoi An Field School Call for Expressions of Interest

VMAP, in association with the Institute of Archaeology (Vietnam) and Flinders University, will conduct a two week terrestrial and maritime-based maritime archaeology field school in Jan/Feb 2018. Fieldwork will take place in the World Heritage Areas at Hue and Hoi An and the Marine Protected Area at Cu Lao Cham and will include a visit to the World Heritage Area at My Son. Accommodation will be at the Bach Dang Hotel in Hoi An.

Dates
Sat 26 / Sun 27 January to Sat 10 / Sun 11 Feb 2018. Dates are fixed.

Activities

1. Marine geophysics training and usage project (boat-based, non-diving)
– Side-scan sonar, magnetometer and ROV training and use at Cu Lao Cham.
2. SCUBA Diving project (boat-based, SCUBA diving)
Recording on the shipwreck site at Bai Ong and diving on targets found using maritime geophysics equipment
3. Cannon recording project in Hue (terrestrial, non-diving)
– 3D modeling, drawing, photography and cataloguing of the Dutch shipwreck cannons located in Hue.
4. Traditional boat building recording project (terrestrial, non-diving)
– 3D modeling, drawing, photography and cataloguing of traditional style Bau boats built by the master boat builders of Kim Bong village near Hoi An.

SCUBA diving certification is not required.

Language of instruction: English

Requirements:

Masters students at Flinders University may be eligible for funding of $2,000 under the Asia Postgraduate Programme scheme (conditions apply). Students at other universities should contact Mark Polzer for further information Mark.Polzer@flinders.edu.au

All participants will be expected to arrange and pay for their visa for Vietnam as well as travel insurance and their own airfares to and from Da Nang in Vietnam (Approximate cost AUD$800).

Participant Fee: US$1,000, AUD$ 1,200 or 800 Euros. This fee will be used to cover on-the-ground expenses such as ground transportation, food and accommodation as well as making a contribution towards the fieldwork costs.

Potential participants should send an email expression of interest that includes the following information: Name, email address, a photocopy of the information page of your passport and a brief (half page) cv or biography to:
Mark.staniforth@flinders.edu.au

For more information contact: Mark.staniforth@flinders.edu.au

UNESCO and ASEAN joint forces to strengthen the protection of underwater heritage in the Southeast Asian region

via Unesco, 21 September 2017: I was in Makassar last week to attend this meeting organised by Unesco and ASEAN. On the agenda was the 2001 convention on Underwater Cultural Heritage (of which only Cambodia is signatory to).

Source: UNESCO and ASEAN joint forces to strengthen the protection of underwater heritage in the Southeast Asian region | United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

Interview with a Thai underwater archaeologist

via BBC The Conversation, 21 July 2017: An interview with Thai underwater archaeologist Pornnatcha Sankhaprasit and the perils on being the only female on board.

The unexpected problems of diving with the guys

Source: BBC World Service – The Conversation, Diving into the Past, My swimsuit dilemma