Since the most ancient times, Man has traveled and continues to travel the seas and oceans in ships transporting merchandise, works of art, and passengers. This has allowed the circulation of ideas and savoir-faire. Many of these ships did not reach their destination leaving men and goods to perish in the sea.
In order to examine these delicate testimonies in an attempt to describe the history of these people and their cultures, archeologists of today implement different research methods that call on the most advanced techniques. Indeed, underwater archeology uses magnetronomy for prospecting, photogrammetry for surveys, and remotely controlled robots for going into deep sea beds.
The ship debris has been entrusted to labs that date them using dendrochronology. The ships’ furniture has been specially treated to save it from otherwise unavoidable corrosion, so it can be put on public exhibit.
The exhibit ''Underwater Archeology: Techniques and Research'' was conceived and co-produced in French, English, and Arabic versions by FMSH-DEVAR through an agreement with the Ministry of Culture and Communications and the Research and Technology Mission, with the scientific collaboration of the Department of Underwater Archeology.
Travelling through France over a period of several years (it is currently at the Cimiez Archeological Museum in Nice where it was initially inaugurated in 1994), then duplicated in 1998 with an Arabic version so it could be exhibited in Cairo in 1998 (when Egypt and France were calling for an international peace conference), it became a permanent exhibit in Egypt’s Bibliotheca Alexandrina, where it was inaugurated in the presence of Mrs. Moubarak, Romano Prodi and Jean Claude Cousseran (at the time, French Ambassador to Egypt). This version has been modified several times in order to accommodate changes in techniques and the diversity of research programs that are currently in place throughout the Mediterranean Basin.
The initial version was completed with three new structures that reflect the underwater Alexandrine legacy (including a new structure by Jean-Yves Empereur, based on harbor excavations carried out in Alexandria, and two new structures by Franck Goddio, also based excavations, at Alexandria, and in Aboukir Bay), and once again, during October, 2004, was inaugurated at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina by its Director, Dr. Ismail Serageldin.
With the exhibit permanent at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, it seemed the right moment to create some traveling versions so that other Arab countries would be able to contribute to its content through underwater archeological excavations from their own countries.
- With the Tunisian Ministry of Culture and Heritage Preservation, Mohamed El-Aziz Ben Achour (Minister of Culture) inaugurated the exhibit in November of 2005 at the Carthage Museum during a World Summit on the Information Society.
- Another version of “Underwater Archeology: Techniques and Research” was inaugurated by Morocco’s Ministry of Culture (National Institute of Archeological Sciences and Patrimony, INSAP) on the occasion of Heritage Month by Mohamed El Achaari (Moroccan Minister of Culture), at the Bab El Kebir de Rabat Gallery. This version has been enhanced by 11 new panels devoted to Moroccan maritime archeology. The French Culture Minister, Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres also visited this exhibit at the Rural Arts Gallery, in Oudaias, Rabat, on June 2, 2006.
Scientific Director for the Exhibit: Jean-Luc Massy, Director of DRASSM
Exhibit Designer and Creator: Patrick Alton
Exhibit Organizer: Jean-Luc Lory, Director of FMSH-DEVAR