Preserving underwater artifacts

UOG heads to Chuuk to train officials in underwater artifact preservation

The University of Guam is heading to Chuuk to conduct a month-long training for historic preservation officials on how to document and preserve cultural artifacts that lie beneath the ocean’s surface.

Led by Assistant Professor of Archaeology William Jeffery of UOG’s the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, the June 3 to 29 maritime archaeology field school will be attended by employees, students, and specialist instructors from the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Marshall Islands, Guam, Hong Kong, Japan and Australia.

“Countries are now seeing that underwater cultural heritage is as important as terrestrial heritage,” Jeffery said. “With traditional fish weir structures, shipwrecks, Yapese stone money, sunken cities, and sites impacted by sea-level rising, Micronesia’s underwater cultural identity is highly significant in that it provides historical knowledge and examples of cultural practices that no other place in the world can provide.”

The training is being funded by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, more commonly known as UNESCO, in partnership with the FSM, following the FSM becoming the first country in the Pacific to ratify UNESCO’s Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage in April 2018. The convention seeks to protect, preserve, and interpret the cultural, historical, and archaeological remnants that are partly or wholly underwater.