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Preserving the remains of the past for the benefit of future generations is a common approach in international heritage policy. Current management practice advocates preserving underwater cultural heritage (UCH) where it lies on the seabed, in situ. However, this practice is questioned due to a lack of understanding of the entangled threats posed by multiple natural and anthropogenic drivers.


In a rapidly changing ocean, and with increasing human exploitation of the marine environment, it is necessary to develop new concepts for assessing and preserving this resource. With over 3,000,000 shipwrecks and thousands of submerged prehistoric sites lying on the floors of the world’s oceans, ENDURE aims to disentangle both natural and anthropogenic decay processes, determine their cumulative and interactive effects on UCH and propose a novel conceptual framework to preserve this heritage based on site entropy.


This will be achieved using the following four approaches:

Cannon wreck stern view.jpg

01. Remote sensing and GIS

Detecting, visualising and interpreting the products of natural and anthropogenic decay of shipwrecks and submerged prehistoric sites using marine remote sensing data, integrated with natural and anthropogenic variables in a GIS platform.


02. Decay processes & rates

Determining key natural processes and rates of decay of archaeological materials in situ and in the laboratory.

03. Ranking threats 

Remotely identifying and ranking decay processes, including increasing threats to hidden and largely inaccessible heritage sites using ecosystem modelling.


04. Intervention or curated decay

Proposing novel intervention methods to mitigate threats to UCH (e.g. planting of seagrass to prevent erosion) and where not possible, developing strategies for curated decay. 

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