The UNITWIN Network (University Twinning and Networking Programme) for Underwater Archaeology was established in 2012. It aims to increase capacity in the participating countries through international cooperation. In accordance with the UNESCO 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage, it aims to enhance the protection of, and research into, underwater cultural heritage. It will do this by formally connecting universities and professional training institutions working in the field of underwater archaeology. It aims to act as a bridge between the academic world, civil society, local communities, research and policy-makers.
The Underwater Archaeology UniTwin Network currently has six members and two associate members. It is presently chaired by Selçuk University, Turkey and supported by the founding members the Centre for Maritime Archaeology, University of Southampton; Alexandria University, Egypt; Syddansk Southern Denmark University; and the Maritime Archaeology Program, Flinders University. It receives contributions from the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage (2001) office in Paris. Membership has recently increased with the welcome addition of the University of Warsaw and associate membership of the University of Cyprus and Tokyo University.
The primary aims of UNITWIN
The main objectives of the Cooperation Network Programme are to:
- promote an integrated system of research, training, information and documentation activities in the field of archaeology related to underwater cultural heritage and related disciplines;
- create an academic training network tasked to harmonize teaching schedules and programmes, teaching material and standards; organize joint field schools; set up distance learning courses at Master’s level, as well as common Master’s level courses; foster faculty and student mobility and set up a common scholarship system; and facilitate exchange or lending of technical material;
- set up a common web portal to facilitate knowledge and information sharing and the creation of a virtual community;
- organize regional and international conferences and seminars to promote the discipline and advance innovative research, as well as annual thematic meetings of the Network;
- carry out joint research projects to enhance understanding of the status of underwater cultural heritage worldwide;
- contribute to the elaboration of a pedagogical kit for underwater archaeology education;
- foster research, development, exchange and harmonization of databases or inventories addressing different aspects of underwater cultural heritage;
- encourage inter-university cooperation through the transfer of knowledge, reinforce the dynamism of existing academic and professional networks and strengthen North-South cooperation;
- act as a bridge between the academic world, civil society, local communities, research and policy-makers, promoting awareness of underwater cultural heritage and influencing cultural heritage policies.
Aside from the delivery of ‘Shipwrecks and Submerged Worlds’, current Network projects and activities include: field training co-ordinated through the universities of Selçuk and Alexandria; the development of a new UniTwin co-ordination centre at Selçuk University; the delivery of further online lectures from all our project partners; and in May 2015 we will be hosting a ‘Work Shop on Underwater Archaeology for African Countries’ at the Underwater Research Center, Kemer, Turkey. We are also in the process of compiling a comprehensive list of all institutions that currently provide training and education in underwater and maritime archaeology worldwide, to compliment the UNESCO list of programmes that offer Underwater Archaeology (http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/CLT/pdf/universities_with_programs_in_underwater_archeology_Sept.pdf).