The Southeast Asian Collaborative Programme on Underwater Archaeology aims to improve some problematic situations concerning Southeast Asian underwater archaeology, including the lack of proper data resulting from commercial salvage works, and the lack of the practice of underwater archaeology in some countries.
SEAMEO SPAFA has decided to launch a third component of the programme, which is educational development, to assist universities in the region without formal education on underwater archaeology to create a curriculum on the subject. During the pilot phase of this component, SEAMEO SPAFA will organize a small group meeting with project partners to discuss the current status of underwater archaeology education in the region, and will assist Silpakorn University in building or improving its curriculum on the subject through consultation with other partners.
SEAMEO SPAFA has been active in the field of underwater archaeology since 1978, offering a number of ad-hoc training courses and meetings to Southeast Asian heritage professionals.
At different gatherings, heritage professionals have expressed the need for a more concrete regional programme in underwater archaeology, highlighting the role of a regional database of maritime and underwater cultural heritage as well as capacity building and awareness-raising activities. Recognizing the need, it is necessary for a regional organization such as SEAMEO SPAFA to initiate the establishment of a comprehensive regional programme on underwater archaeology in order to promote an effective management and the study of maritime and underwater cultural heritage for their protection.
Since underwater archaeology is not a subject taught at most universities in Southeast Asia, archaeology students often lack the skills needed in practising underwater archaeology, and need to seek experiences elsewhere after they graduate. In some countries, underwater archaeology training is offered as extracurricular activities, and is not consistent in terms of modules and duration. These contribute to the lack of qualified staff in the field.
While it is comprehended that underwater archaeology is a discipline requiring special training, skills, and large budget, universities should be able to offer some basic courses in underwater archaeology in their curricula, which will introduce students to the field, and provide them with an opportunity to learn locally, without seeking assistance from abroad. This will also provide capacity-building for the teaching faculty, and enhance the knowledge on underwater archaeology as a whole.
1. Raise awareness on the status of underwater archaeology education in the region
2. Assist academic institutions in building and improving their curricula in underwater archaeology
3. Provide a basis for future collaboration and better maritime and underwater cultural heritage protection and management under regional cooperation
4. Review Southeast Asian Maritime and Underwater Cultural Heritage Database (SEAMUCH) on shipwreck sites in Southeast Asia and future implementation plan.
• Improved curricula
• Capacity-building for students and faculty members
• Consolidated knowledge in underwater archaeology in Southeast Asia
• Enhanced regional capacity and co-operation in underwater archaeology