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Scientists warn underwater cultural heritages in danger   2010-10-25 18:40:05 FeedbackPrintRSS

ISTANBUL, Oct. 25 (Xinhua) -- Scientists warned here Monday that underwater cultural heritages are in danger as shipwrecks and underwater ruins are becoming increasing accessible.

The issue is the focus point of 3-day regional meeting on the protection of the underwater cultural heritage, which is host by the Istanbul Archeology Museum and organized by UNESCO.

More than 50 specialists and representatives from some 20 Mediterranean, Black Sea and Arab countries are attending the meeting which aims to promote the convention and its scientific protection standards among UNESCO member states.

The meeting, which also draws specialists from Britain, Australia and the Netherlands, introduces UNESCO efforts at the protection of underwater cultural heritage, and country representatives present the current status of the legal and practical protections of underwater cultural heritage as well as the situation of underwater archaeology in their countries.

Ulrike Guerin, Secretary of the Convention on the protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage of UNESCO, said that the underwater cultural heritage faces danger of destruction, looting and commercial exploitation.

"Professional equipment and a high level training remain necessary to undertake excavations since such sites are no longer beyond the reach of treasure hunters," she said.

It is estimated that over 3 million undiscovered shipwrecks spread across ocean floors around the planet. The Dictionary of Disasters at Sea listed for instance 12,542 sailing ships and war vessels lost at sea between 1824 and 1962 alone.

Many famous vessels have perished, inspiring books and films, including the Armada of Philip II of Spain, the Titanic, the fleet of Kublai Khan, the ships of Christopher Columbus, and the Spanish galleons that plied the seas between Americas and Spain.

Similarly, the remains of countless ancient buildings are now submerged underwater, according to UNESCO.

Hakan Oniz, archaeologist and professor of Turkey called for cooperation in the region for protection of underwater cultural heritage while briefing delegates of his country's efforts in protecting underwater heritages.

Initiated in 2001 with the signatures of nine countries, the UNESCO Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage Convention, now sets the basics for the protection of underwater cultural heritage in coastal and high seas with signatures from more than 40 countries.

Editor: Zhang Xiang
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