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Underwater cultural heritage
Shipwrecks, submerged structures, and golden coins; countless treasures lie on the ocean floor, remnants of human life from the past. All these archaeological sites collectively form underwater cultural heritage. But why should we protect this underwater cultural heritage?
What is underwater cultural heritage?
Cultural heritage encompasses all remnants from the past that hold cultural, historical, or scientific significance. We are familiar with landmarks like the Colosseum in Rome or the temples in Athens, but there are also valuable remnants underwater. Think of shipwrecks, lost treasures, ancient bridges, and submerged cities.
Why is it important?
Cultural heritage serves as a time capsule that provides insights into the past, history, and development of human society. This knowledge is valuable in addressing present and future challenges. Additionally, underwater cultural heritage plays a crucial role in promoting sustainable tourism and preserving natural ecosystems.
What does UNESCO do?
Recreational divers, treasure hunters, and unaware tourists pose a threat to underwater cultural heritage. To prevent the loss of knowledge, UNESCO is committed to the protection and preservation of cultural heritage worldwide. This ensures that many future generations can learn from and enjoy it!
At Cooler Media, we dedicate a significant portion of our time to passion projects in the form of AnyStories. The only requirement: “Make it bold!”
For this AnyStory, our entire creative team collaborated. We chose a style that combines photographs with graphic elements. By using photographs, we visually showcase existing cultural heritage sites.
We are grateful and proud that, as a team, we could contribute to raising awareness by explaining the importance of underwater cultural heritage.
The structures we build, the food we eat and the music we listen to. Cultural heritage is a legacy which we receive from the past, live in the present and pass on to next generations. It contributes to a sense of identity and helps us understand each other. It’s a source of inspiration for creativity, creates opportunities for sustainable tourism and nurtures skills and know-how.
At first glance our underwater cultural heritage is less visible. Places where people once settled near water that are now partially or completely submerged by the ocean, a river or lake. Shipwrecks, sunken cities and even landscapes swallowed by water. Intact and untouched for hundreds of years. A true “time capsule” to the past, that offers a glimpse into human history and past civilizations.
These sites of cultural, historical, scientific and even sometimes sacred importance are in danger becoming more vulnerable to a variety of threats.
Significant damage to underwater cultural heritage is caused by pollution, industrial fishing, unsustainable tourism, dredging, wind farms and oil extractions. Climate change and rising sea levels cause erosion and damage to important world heritage sites in the coastal areas of the Mediterranean for example. And then there is the threat of increased commercial exploitation and looting. As early as 1683 there is evidence of attempts to reach the famous Armada shipwrecks, using a diving bell. With the invention of scuba gear and even mini submarines sites like these become more and more accessible to treasure hunters with all its consequences.
Governments, organizations and all of us as committed citizens need to work together to protect our underwater cultural heritage. These sites can help us resolve challenges we face today. They provide vital evidence about how people have adapted to rising sea levels in the past and how they’ve been affected by climate change. These “living photographs into the past” must be protected, scientifically preserved and sustainably accessible to the public or stay untouched if appropriate measures are not guaranteed. So they remain accessible to enjoy and learn from for generations to come!
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