New generations for research and protection of Submerged Cultural Heritage

International experts praised the Externado’s new Specialization in Submerged Cultural Heritage.

The graduate program, the first and only of its kind in Latin America, has the academic goal to provide professional skills to fully deal with the research, preservation, and dissemination of Submerged Cultural Heritage.

Filipe Vieira Castro, Ph.D. in Anthropology from the Texas A & M University Naval Archeology Program, and director of the J. Richard Steffy Ship Reconstruction Laboratory, states: “All peoples need their heritage. The study of heritage is very important, from the civilizations’ point of view, and the fact that Colombia is doing this, is amazing; having an underwater archaeology program in Latin America is historic, and even more so, with the high-quality of this group of students.”

The Specialization has, among its graduate students, professionals from various fields – historians, anthropologists, archaeologists, conservationists, attorneys, oceanographers, and the Navy. Also, on the other hand, it has a group of international professors with experience in various areas of research.

Castro stressed the importance of archaeologists in history: “Underwater cultural heritage is the heritage not seen. What archaeologists do is show and explain what lies there and the importance it has. “History is the memory of all peoples (…) there is no civilization without history; one has to know their roots.”

Especialización en Patrimonio Cultural Sumergido

For Nicholas Ciarlo, PhD in Anthropology Sciences with an emphasis in Archaeology from the University of Buenos Aires Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, and researcher at the National Council of Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET), the Specialization is fundamental as “in the region there was no available training of new professionals with these characteristics, despite having a 25 or 30 years research history. The graduate course is a genuine, strictly academic undertaking seeking to train new generations in Submerged Cultural Heritage, its research, management, and protection.”

The Specialization program is governed by the UNESCO ethical and professional code for the protection of Submerged Cultural Heritage and promotes professional studies in Latin America.

Why is Submerged Cultural Heritage important?

Colombia has a vast territory of seas, rivers, and lakes where hundreds of colonial shipwrecks, military ruins, prehistoric settlements, and cemeteries that are part of the nation’s archaeological heritage, rest. The remains should be studied and protected as they are material evidence of our past, and part of our peoples’ cultural heritage.

Additionally, Cultural Heritage is not just about the past. Nicholas Ciarlo explained: “Archaeological research has a fundamental impact in the present because the identity of societies, groups, and individuals is based on history. It is essential to have elements to understand who we are today. The study of the past helps us understand that things were not like now; the socio-historical reality is different, and that things can always be better.”