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The Maritime Museum of Finland organises the first underwater cultural heritage project funded by the European Union

The European Community Culture 2000 Programme funds for the first time a project on underwater cultural heritage. The project is organized in 2002-2004. The Maritime Museum of Finland is the co-ordinator and and six European countries participate in it.

The name of the project is "Monitoring, Safeguarding and Visualizing North-European Shipwreck Sites: Common European Underwater Cultural Heritage - Challenges for Cultural Resource Management" (MoSS). The project deals with the monitoring, protecting, and visualizing of shipwrecks and their conditions. The project aims at telling European citizens about underwater cultural heritage and the importance of its protection. The project acts as an underwater window to four significant European shipwrecks in the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, and Finland.

"Monitoring, Safeguarding and Visualizing North-European Shipwreck Sites: Common European Underwater Cultural Heritage - Challenges for Cultural Resource Management" (MoSS) is the first international shipwreck project that European Community Culture 2000 Programme funds. The budget of the project is about 1 157 000 euros in all. The grant from Culture 2000 Programme is about 690 000 euros.

The project is organized by The Maritime Museum of Finland as the co-ordinator, The Mary Rose Archaeological Services Ltd. from the Great Britain, The National Service for Archaeological Heritage: Netherlands Institute for Ship- and Underwater Archaeology from the Netherlands (ROB/NISA), National Museum of Denmark/Centre for Maritime Archaeology, The Department for Preservation of Archaeological Sites and Monuments / Archaeological State Museum of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern from Germany, and Södertörns högskola (University college) from Sweden.

The project is based on four shipwrecks, all of which are of great significance from a European point of view and show a diversity of intercultural relationships throughout a long period of history. The wrecks are located in Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, and Finland, and they represent different vessel types. The oldest of the wrecks is dated to the 13th century whereas the youngest is from the middle of the 19th century. The wrecks are in different kinds of underwater environments; in sea, lake, and brackish waters, and the conditions are both stable and unstable. The wrecks have preserved extremely well; two of them are almost intact.

The project has three main themes: monitoring, safeguarding and visualizing shipwrecks. The first theme includes monitoring the condition of the wrecks, or in other words doing research on the degradation of shipwrecks under water. The aim of this theme is to develop and improve the methods used in monitoring the physical and environmental conditions of shipwrecks. The second theme is safeguarding, which aims at outlining and developing models to protect shipwrecks so that also the needs of different public groups are taken into account. The third theme is visualizing. The four shipwreck sites will be made physically visible using underwater and other images. The project will be advertised multilingually to the European public in large.

The project will consist of fieldwork, Internet sites, publications, posters, leaflets, reports, articles, meetings, and seminars. Information on the wrecks will be sent out in various ways. One of the objectives, which are both short and long term, is to produce information not only to the general public but also to the experts in the area of protecting the cultural heritage. The aim is to awaken European peoples' interest to our common underwater cultural heritage and to have the general public participate in protecting the heritage. The wrecks of the project - ships that sailed on European waters - act as examples of maritime history as they tell us about the many local and international dimensions of the European culture.

The European Community Culture 2000 Programme is a programme that supports international cultural co-operation projects that involve organizers from several countries. The objectives are among other things to encourage co-operation, to promote the common European cultural heritage, and to disseminate the knowledge of the history and culture of the peoples of Europe. In 2001, it was the first time projects on sub-aquatic archaeology were especially called to take part in the program.

For more information, please contact Ms Sallamaria Tikkanen, Project Leader, The Maritime Museum of Finland, (during August 2003 - July 2004 Ms Riikka Alvik,

The Maritime Museum of Finland, tel. +358 98 4050 9057, +358 50 339 1498

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