The first international congress for underwater archaeology (IKUWA 1) was held in February 1999 in Sassnitz on the island of Rügen on the coast of the Baltic Sea in Germany, with the theme "protection of cultural heritage under water". It received considerable support from the Raphael Programme of the European Union, in the context of reinforcing east-west cultural and educational ties, and was organised on the initiative of the Deutsche Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Unterwasserarchäoloqie (DEGUWA) by 7 German and 5 non-German (Switzerland, UK, Greece, Netherlands and Poland) partner organizations.

The congress was a resounding success, with wide international participation. It had a series of chronological sessions and a series of thematic sessions on subjects such as conservation, recording and management. Particular importance was given to a round table on the protection of the European underwater cultural heritage, with particular reference to the UNESCO 2001 Convention. The participants were mainly from Europe, but also from India, Israel and the U.S.A.

It was agreed at Sassnitz to inaugurate an ambitious programme of congresses to build an international network of institutions dealing with underwater archaeology. This was achieved by the holding of IKUWA2 and IKUWA3. IKUWA2 was held in Zurich in October 2004. The organizing committee included German and British members. About 200 participants from 25 countries attended. The proceedings were published in 2006 as "Die Neue Sicht. Une nouvelle lnterprétation de I'histoire." The new view in the series Antiqua, vol.40. In the days preceding the congress a postgraduate training workshop was held, with 21 participants from 11 European countries.

IKUWA3 took place under the auspices of UNESCO's Director-General. It was held in University College London in July 2008, with the title "Beyond Boundaries" and was organized by the Nautical Archaeology Society and the Institute of Field Archaeologists. The Steering Committee included German and Swiss members. 260 participants from over 20 different countries presented 126 papers over the three days.

IKUWA3 was preceded by a professional development field school with participants from almost a dozen nations organized by NAS. One day before, UNESCO held a one-day intergovernmental conference in the British Academy on the 2001 Convention.

Preparations are now under way to hold IKUWA4 in October 2011 in Zadar, where the International Centre for Underwater Archaeology has been established under UNESCO's auspices. The theme of IKUWA4 is "Managing the underwater cultural heritage".

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International Centre for Underwater Archaeology in Zadar
Archaeological Museum in Zadar
University of Zadar
City of Zadar
Zadar county
Ministry of Science, Education and Sports
Ministry of Culture