THE REGIONAL TRAINING WORKSHOP ON UNDERWATER CULTURAL HERITAGE IN
CHANTHABURI, THAILAND 2010
By Bobby C. Orillaneda &
Ligaya SP. Lacsina
Underwater Archaeology Section - Archaeology Division - National Museum of the Philippines
From October 26 to December 5 2009, the authors attended the first Foundation Course on Underwater Cultural Heritage held at the Underwater Archaeology Division Training Center in Ban Tha Chalaeb, Bangkaja Municipality, Chanthaburi, Thailand.
This course is part of the United Nations Education, Science and Culture Organization (UNESCO) regional project, funded by the Royal Government of Norway, entitled “Safeguarding the Underwater Cultural Heritage of Asia and the Pacific: Building Regional Capacities to Protect and Manage Underwater Archaeological Sites through the establishment of a Regional Centre of Excellence Field Training Facility and Programme of Instruction”.
On a national level, the training program was also realized through the partnership between UNESCO and the Thai Ministry of Culture.
The aims of the Course include:
To prepare countries in the ratification and implementation of the 2001 Convention and to encourage close collaborationamong partner countries and experts;
To build regional capacity in the protection and management of underwater cultural heritage among partner countries;
To professionalize underwater archaeology among those who are already involved in underwater archaeology
To assist and encourage partner countries in establishing their own underwater archaeology units;
To promote a multidisciplinary approach in the protection and management of underwater cultural heritage;
To provide a platform for effective networking among partner countries in the Asia-Pacific region;
To disseminate best practices among partner countries;
To sustain maritime archaeological programmes in the Asia-Pacific countries
The course was attended by initially sixteen participants from Cambodia (Nady Phan and Tha Hun), Indonesia (Laode Muhammad Aksa and Judi Wahjudin), Lao PDR (Samlane Luangaphay and Souliphane Bouaraphane), Malaysia (Ahmed Asyriq Abu Kassim and Shafril Kadir), the Philippines (Bobby Orillaneda and Ligaya Lacsina), Sri Lanka (Sanath Wickramanayaka Karunarathna and Dayananda Abesin Mallawa Arachchige) and hy Thailand (Warangkana Petch-udom, Duangpond Singhasanee, Somkiat Kumraksa and Presert Sonsuphap). The training expertise was provided by lecturers and experts from the Nautical Archaeological Society (Chris Underwood), the Asian Academy for Heritage Management network (Somlak Charoenpot), Silpakorn University in Thailand (Sayan Praicharnjit), Flinders University in Australia (Mark Staniforth and Jun Kimura), Western Australia Maritime Museum (Ross Anderson), International Conservation Services, Sydney, Australia (Karina Acton), Dutch National Service for Archaeology Cultural Landscape and Built Heritage [RACM] (Martijn Manders), and Underwater Archaeology Division (UAD) Thailand (Erbprem Vatcharangkul).
The training course officially started with an opening ceremony (Fig. 1) on 26 October at the National Maritime Museum in Chanthaburi, Thailand. Mr. Kehmchat Thepchai, Deputy-Director General of the Fine Arts Department (Thailand) welcomed the participants while Mr. Suriya Soucksakit, Vice Minister for Culture (Thailand) read the opening address. Mr. Tim Curtis, Head of Culture Unit, UNESCO Bangkok, delivered the main address. Mr. Erbprem Vatcharangkul, Chief of the Underwater Archaeology Division, Fine Arts Department, then reported on the Progress of the Project Implementation while Mr. Ricardo Favis, UNESCO Bangkok Project Coordinator, introduced the training program, trainers and regional trainees.
The venue for the classroom sessions was held at the UAD Training Center in Ban Tha Chalaeb, Bangkaja Municipality in Chanthaburi Province. The Center (Fig. 2) is the best-equipped maritime archaeology facility in Southeast Asia. It is located along the Chanthaburi River and in proximity to number of shipwreck sites. The Center has air-conditioned rooms for trainer and participant accommodation, a classroom, a spacious living and dining room as well as ample outside space. Further, the Center is also only six kilometers away from the National Maritime Museum and the UAD office where all the dive equipment is stored.
The training program was divided into two sessions: theory and practice. The subjects include maritime law, in-situ preservation of shipwrecks and other underwater sites, museology, monitoring techniques, Asian shipbuilding technology and ethnographic boat building. The practical exercises include 2D and 3D survey tasks (wet and dry) and the actual dive on the shipwreck.
RESULTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The UNESCO-sponsored First Foundation Course Underwater Cultural Heritage was a success. The participants were able to gain new knowledge various subjects related to underwater archaeology with special focus on the UNESCO 2001 Convention as well as the methodology of conducting a non-disturbance survey, measurement and recording of a shipwreck.
Based on the participants’ collective experience, a number of recommendations have been formulated:
That we need to make an effort to protect our Underwater Cultural Heritage since it is under threat;
That in-situ preservation, or leaving submerged archaeological objects as it is, is essential in protecting our underwater cultural heritage;
That we need to raise awareness to the general public through presentations, exhibitions, publications and making sites available in-situ;
That there is a need to build professional capacity in the Asia-Pacific region in the form of trainings, workshops, seminars and collaborative projects between countries
And that only when there is a general consensus about the value of extant Underwater Cultural Heritage that we can preserve it
Finally, it is very important for each country to consider carefully and take steps to ratify the 2001 UNESCO CONVENTION on the Protection on our Underwater Cultural Heritage since this is the only way that we can protect and preserve humanity’s submerged cultural resource.