Ancient shipwreck sites are the most thoroughly studied type of maritime antiquities. Their particularities have formed a unitary methodology in shipwreck archaeological research. Management initiatives undertaken since the 1970s fell within the wider context of management of underwater cultural heritage, with emphasis on their common underwater environment of deposition. The actions developed concern the legislative framework, protection, conservation, preservation, and presentation.
The UNESCO Convention for the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage(2001)considers in situ preservation of archaeological remains as the preferable solution. In this regard, several Mediterranean countries have adopted management solutions that promote the preservation of archaeological remains and their interaction within their context. Such solutions include partial excavation, restoration, reburial of sites or special constructions for their protection (eg. close box at the Mazarròn shipwreck in Spain, Roman ship of Sparghi in Italy). On the other hand, the contemporary conception on museums as active agents of social change led to the application of practices of in situ exhibition, which allow the public to understand the relation between shipwrecks and their context. This is achieved either directly, when public access to the sites is permitted (e.g. Grand Conglué shipwreck in France, and Albegna shipwreck in Italy), or indirectly when shipwrecks are presented on land (e.g. the Cala Cadir shipwreck, Italy).
With the generous support of the HFF, this project aimed to evaluate the in situ preservation and presentation methods applied to ancient shipwreck sites and to examine the meaning and interpretations the public attributes to ancient shipwreck sites. In this framework, the project developed in three axes: (1) Documentation of in situ preservation and presentation management solutions adopted in the Eastern Mediterranean, (2) the comparative evaluation of different management solutions applied in the Mediterranean as regards the presentation of the sites, and (3) the investigation of the different public conceptions developed around ancient shipwreck sites in Cyprus.