Skip to main content

Sustainable preservation of underwater archaeological sites: A novel approach to cultural heritage management


Cultural heritage is the legacy of tangible, intangible and natural heritage assets of a society that is inherited from past generations. Preserving the remains of the past for the benefit of future generations is common 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 environment and 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 proposes a novel conceptual framework to preserve this heritage based on site entropy. This will be achieved by: 1) Detect, visualise and interpret the products of natural and anthropogenic decay of shipwrecks and submerged prehistoric sites using marine remote sensing techniques integrated with natural and anthropogenic variables in a GIS platform; 2) Determine key natural processes and rates of decay of archaeological materials in situ and in the laboratory; 3) Remotely identify and rank simultaneous decay processes, including increasing threats to hidden and largely inaccessible heritage sites using ecosystem modelling, and 4) Propose novel intervention methods to mitigate threats to UCH and where not possible, strategies for curated decay. Ultimately, ENDURE’s holistic structured framework can be synergistically integrated and implemented by stakeholders and marine practitioners for a sustainable preservation of the marine environment and the world’s underwater cultural legacy for future generations.


Net EU contribution
€ 2 496 306,00
Frederiksholms Kanal 12
1220 Kobenhavn

See on map

Danmark Hovedstaden Byen København
Activity type
Research Organisations
Other funding
€ 2 496 306,00