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POSSIBILITIES FOR A HOLISTIC APPROACH TO UNDERWATER HERTITAGE MANAGEMENT IN THE CARIBBEAN By Lillian Azevedo-Grout
A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for MA (Maritime Archaeology) by Instructional Course
This dissertation would not have been possible without much advice, guidance, and support. I would like to thank Dr. Edward Harris and the staff at the Bermuda Maritime Museum for their outstanding hospitality and advice, for providing me with shelter and a base from which I might gather data and knowledge. For their expertise, local knowledge, breathing air, and petrol I would like to thank Bermudian Captains Bob Steinhoff and Russel Whayman. For his advice and patience, I thank my dissertation supervisor: Dr. Jonathon Adams. For their correspondence and support, I thank the heritage managers and contacts throughout the Caribbean including Dr. Basil Reid, Dr. “Peggy” Leshikar-Denton, Mr. Bob Conrich, and Mrs. Della Scott-Ireton among many others. Thank-you all! Finally, for his encouragement and love, I thank my husband, Carl Grout.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
List of Figures and Tables…………………………………………………..……………iv Introduction………………………………………………………………………………..1 1. Underwater Sites and Resources: Observations and Experiences from Bermuda…………….………………………3 2. Legislation and Patterns in Past Heritage Management: Bermuda’s Changing Policies and Changing Attitudes.…………………………16 3. Previous Underwater Research in Bermuda on the Historic Environment……………26 4. The People’s Heritage? Non-Professional Local Interest and Claims on the Underwater Cultural Heritage of Bermuda………………………………………34 5. Official Perspectives: Challenges, Goals, and Accomplishments…………………….44 6. Underwater Cultural Heritage Management in Practice: A look at the Turks and Caicos, the Caymans, and Trinidad and Tobago…….…50 7. A Consensus for Change: Attitudes and Progress: Four Recognized Areas for Improvement in the Management of the Underwater Heritage………………………………………………………………………..…58 Conclusion………………………………………………………………………….........67 References………………………………………………………………………………..70
LIST OF TABLES AND FIGURES
Table 1: List of Unprotected Wrecks published by the Wrecks Authority………………5 Figure 1: MakinWaves Chart showing dive locations around Bermuda…………………6 Figure 2: L’Hermione…………………………………………………………………….7 Figure 3: Constellation…………………………………………………………….….….8 Figure 4: Nola: Paddlewheel Civil War Blockade Runner resting thirty meters from Constellation………………………….………………………………….…….9 Figure 5: Caraquet……………………………………………………………………….10 Figure 6: North Carolina……………………………………………………….………..11 Figure 7: Caesar Grindstones……………………………………………………………12 Figure 8: Pottery visible amongst the San Antonio ballast stones……………….………14 Figure 9: Map of the Caribbean showing the Turks and Caicos, the Caymans, and Trinidad and Tobago…………………………………………………………...51
Using Bermuda as a case study and resource for primary material, this research synthesizes previous archaeology work and local attitudes (amateur, vocational, and professional) to assess whether it is feasible for small, independent islands to support a blanket policy that protects the entire region’s underwater cultural heritage (UCH). To that end, the bulk of material presented is Bermuda-specific. Chapters one through four are based on the author’s experiences, observations, and research into the island’s history of underwater heritage management, from four weeks’ research and participant observation on-site. This analysis which makes up this dissertation’s main body is founded on a detailed case study of a particular island which has been forced to deal with the challenge of managing its underwater heritage sooner than other islands. Although Bermuda is located midway between the USA and UK in the Atlantic Ocean and not in the Caribbean, her experiences illustrate common challenges that are faced by islands throughout the Caribbean region. Chapter five addresses eight of these challenges, not as insurmountable obstacles but as factors which must be considered when recommending a change to how UCH should be managed. Experience working on Bermuda has shown that an examination of the Caribbean region’s underwater cultural heritage and its related issues deserves in-depth examination. Each island must be understood in its own, unique context. For this reason, I have limited my application of observations of Bermuda to three islands presented in chapter six: The Cayman Islands, the Turks and Caicos, and Trinidad and Tobago. As this author has not conducted research on these islands, opinions and observations on the current state of affairs have been collected from interested individuals and managers currently working on the islands through correspondence and related published materials. Despite this limitation, experience on Bermuda and a cursory examination of several of the Caribbean islands have revealed that a number of challenges are regionally shared, despite particular differences in circumstance. islands. For example, the lack of existing or effective legislation for the protection of underwater cultural heritage is common on many Islands in the Caribbean do not have a single, central government and understanding local laws and politics that are involved is therefore crucial. A unilateral
one-size-fits-all policy will not be acceptable to all governments.
conservationist Bob Conrich said, there are too many chiefs and too few Indians. Chapter seven looks at four areas for improvement in UCH management and what steps have been taken by individual islands to address them, working on an individual and regional level. Individually, islands have collaborated with overseas institutions and underwater archaeology programs including the Mary Rose Trust and the Institute of Nautical Archaeology. Regionally, maritime archaeologists have found a voice through the Museums Association of the Caribbean (MAC), the International Association for Caribbean Archaeology (IACA) and other international organizations. Personal observation has shown that in order to assess the possibility for a holistic approach to underwater heritage management in the Caribbean, there must be an in-depth working knowledge of each of the islands which would be holistically integrated. Based on the author’s experience on Bermuda and communication with heritage managers in the Caribbean region, a holistic approach is currently possible, not legislatively, but on a brainstorming and communication level. For blanket legislation to work in the future there must be a greater understanding of each island’s historical management practices, current policies, local attitudes and politics, and there must be local individuals who are concerned with and active in local affairs. This dissertation’s aims are two fold: 1) to present those key ingredients to successful heritage management that have been developed on Bermuda over time through trial in such a way that 2) a template is made for those interested individuals and heritage managers living and working in the Caribbean to better recognize those challenges to UCH management they face.
UNDERWATER SITES AND RESOURCES: OBSERVATIONS AND EXPERIENCES FROM BERMUDA
Bermuda is a likely place for shipwrecks. Situated mid-way between the New World and Europe, the islands have been used throughout history as a stopover place and navigational beacon. Reefs extend over ten miles off-shore in places, and historically vessels often found themselves in trouble long before reaching the safety of Bermuda’s sandy shores. Despite laws requiring local pilots, the prevalence of hurricanes and the limitations of navigation instruments in the days before global positioning systems, helped to create over three hundred wrecks by the turn of the 21st century. Even with the introduction of new technologies ships continue to find themselves in trouble as evidenced by the running aground of a cruise ship two days before my arrival. On Bermuda I wanted to see for myself what remained after over forty years of active salvaging. My experiences and observations are the subject of this chapter, as they left me with two major impressions: the scale of the resource and the permanent effects of treasure salving and artifact collecting. While there has been a less active program for excavation since the Historic Wrecks Act came into force (current emphasis is on in-situ preservation), volunteers continue to assist the Bermuda Maritime Museum with the management and cataloguing of its collections. As a result, I was encouraged to come to Bermuda at Dr. Edward Harris’ invitation to explore both the Island’s archives and underwater sites. The experience provided me with hands-on data on which to base the body of this dissertation in addition to exposing me to the practical aspects of working, diving, and living on an island. Of the seventeen wrecks salvaged by Teddy Tucker and Mendel Peterson in the 1960s, I had the pleasure of visiting five (Caesar, L’Herminie, Montana, New Old Spaniard, and San Antonio). I also dove several wrecks classified as “unprotected” including the Blanche King, Caraquet, Constellation, Frenchman, and North Carolina. The ships I dove were representative. I visited both sites that tourists would see with a
commercial dive operator and others with great historical interest but little to visually attract the tourist. To round off the experience, I dove a number of sites with ship wreckage whose identity was unknown even to the divers who served as my guides. Bermuda is a small island with an even smaller diving population. Everyone knows everyone. For example, diving with Bob Steinhoff, a local businessman, museum trustee and boat captain, I asked why he didn’t display a dive flag on his boat. He explained that Bermuda doesn’t have the same amount of boat traffic as other islands. Tourists don’t usually go far offshore without a guide and any local dive boat would recognize his boat and know he was diving. On the reef, he recognizes other boats and the sites they are over. On one occasion, he called the individual diving a site he did not recognize to determine if it was worth going over and having a look for himself. Divers like Steinhoff are familiar with Bermuda’s reefs and will pick out a site using a number of natural markers. These may include lining up two points on land, the location of particular reef markers and buoys, or the shape of sand holes or coral formations. On a clear day, many wrecks are visible from the surface. Sand, turtle grass, reef, and ship ballast all have unique shades that are visible from the surface to the keen observer. I observed boat captains using a combination of local and technical aids to locate the sites we dove. Some of the better known, large iron wrecks have recently been marked with mooring balls, both to facilitate locating them and to prevent damage to the surrounding reef by anchoring. The less well-known wrecks are located using either GPS (Global Positioning System) or visible clues. For example, we would often run to a particular GPS location that I had located in the files. As the coordinates might have been altered or incorrectly taken we would travel up and down the reefs, searching for a difference in bottom composition that would indicate the location of a wreck. Having a flying bridge, or deck above the main body of the boat made this easier as it was possible to see possible hazards from a distance. Tourist Sites (unprotected wrecks) The first list of unprotected sites was published by the Wrecks Authority as Government Notice No. 368-196.
Description of Wreck
19 Century- conspicuous large ballast piles- misc. iron North Carolina US Clipper- 1882 “Darbington” Iron Steamer- 1894 L’Hermione French Frigate 1836 Late 18th or early 19th century Constellation US Schooner- 1943 Montana/Nola 1857 A wreck- late 18th Century Caraquet Iron Steamer 1923 Matiana Iron Steamer early 1900s Cristobal Colon Spanish passenger vessel, 1936 Taunton Iron Steamer 1914 Blanche King wooden schooner 1914 Iristo steamer 1937 Avenger iron brig Colonel William G. Bell iron yacht 1942 Pollockshields steamer 1915 Marie Celeste Paddle Steamer- blockade runner 1853 Schooner- early 1900s Sailing Vessel- late 19th century Kate Iron Steamer 1915 Schooner- coal cargo 1890s Minnie Bresseieur iron steamer 1872
S.W. Breakers S.W. Breakers Chub Heads (Western Ledge Flats) Chub Heads (Western Ledge Flats) Chub Heads (Western Ledge Flats) Western Blue Cut Western Blue Cut Western Blue Cut North Rook North Rook N.E. Breakers N.E. Breakers S.W. Breakers N.E. Breakers Mills Breaker Mills Breaker Elbow Beach Sinky Bay Mills Breaker Castle Harbour Tucker’s Town Hungry Bay Warwick Long Bay
Table 1: List of Unprotected Wreck Sites published by the Wrecks Authority. The sites visited and photographed by the author are in bold.
Government Notice No. 368-196 stated that: any person may dive on these wrecks without being in possession of a license…but nothing herein contained shall be construed as granting permission to use any explosive or pressure air-hose, water-hose or vacuumhose upon or in the vicinity of any wreck (Government Notice No. 368-196). Table 1 lists the updated list of these wrecks and their descriptions as published by the Wrecks Authority. Their position in latitude and longitude is also given to facilitate locating them. These wrecks were chosen by the committee because they were considered less fragile and profitable than others (i.e. Spanish Galleons). Their large,
Figure 1: Map of Bermuda showing some of the most common dive sites published by MakinWaves, a local dive operator
iron profiles meant that they were more easily located and attracted large numbers of reef fish. As a result, many are good photographic subjects and remain popular among recreational divers today. Figure 1 shows a common tourist map showing the location of the more popular dive sites around the island. Notice how a large proportion of unprotected wrecks that are listed in Table 1 are also shown as dive sites on the map. L’Hermione (Figure 2) L’Hermione is the oldest shipwreck on the original unprotected wreck list. Designed by Martin Boucher in 1823, L’Hermione was one of eight frigates in La Surveillante class. After a distinguished career in the Mediterranean, West Indies, South Africa, and Mexico she succumbed to foul weather and leaking bilges off Bermuda in 1838 (Watts 2003: 102). 495 of her crew were rescued following a storm and her cargo salvaged. Today the site consists of over twenty canon spread out over an acre of ocean floor. Her massive anchor and half-buried canon make excellent photographic subjects and she is popular among recreational divers (Berg 1991: 38). The Bermuda Maritime Museum and East Carolina University examined the site in 1994 and commented that even though there was no current license to excavate the wreck “it was
Figure 2: L’Hermione’s characteristic canon. Popular among photographers, a few of the canon are completely covered in sediment while others are easily distinguishable among the coral. Photo taken by author.
obvious that excavation was going on” (Watts 2003: 105). A large hole near the ship’s capstan was filled with broken glass, broken ceramics, and fragmented wood. When I dove this site, I did not see any small artifacts and it is likely that they have long-since been removed and salvaged. Discovered in 1956 by French diver Jean Archie, the site has been consistently “worked” by divers using both low and high-tech excavation methods. At least two divers have been licensed by the Wrecks Authority to remove artifacts using suction dredges and there is no official record of their finds. Up to the Bermuda Maritime Museum’s projects in 1994 and 1995 there had been no systematic survey or site plan made. Despite the loss to archaeology, the site’s popularity with recreational divers might still be used to support historic shipwreck conservation. A waterproof card giving details of the ship’s history and site could be produced and made available in local dive
Figure 3: Constellation debris field with Captain Bob Steinhoff. Notice the solidified bags of cement and cultural conglomerate in the foreground. Photo taken by the author.
shops. Similar cards are available in Florida Keys and have been quite popular among both tourists and local guides; information on the card provides detailed information on the site and would be ideal to brief divers before the dive. Constellation (Figure 3) The inspiration behind Peter Benchley’s book “The Deep” as well as the movie by the same title, the Constellation is a fascinating wreck. Built in 1918, she was one of the last of her kind, a four-masted cargo schooner of 1034 tons. For twenty-five years she transported coal, lumber, and a variety of cargos up and down the eastern coast of the United States. Sailing from New York to Venezuela in 1943 in heavy seas, her pumps failed and the Captain made for Bermuda to make repairs. Having misplaced his only Bermuda map, he made an error in judgment and wrecked his ship near Western
Figure 4: Paddlewheel of the American Civil War Blockade Runner Nola (aka Montana) which wrecked just thirty meters from the Constellation. The wreck’s close proximity is a reminder just how treacherous Bermuda’s reefs can be. Photo taken by the author.
Blue Cut off Bermuda, only thirty meters from the Nola (Figure 4), an American Civil War Blockade Runner. The Constellation’s interesting cargo including tennis racquets, nail polish, ceramic tiles, yo-yos, bottles, lead crucifixes, and glass ampoules with medicine led locals to call the site the “Woolworth wreck.” Since its discovery, the site has been loved to death by trinket-collecting tourists. Over the years, thousands of pieces have been removed by divers; light salvage has been supported in the media, popularized in “The Deep” as a fun and harmless activity. As a result, during my dives I spotted few intact bottles and none of the items listed above. Today the site is easily identified by stacks of solidified cement bags, fifty-five gallon drums, and a conglomerate of cultural material including broken bottles and ceramics. Today the dive is often combined with the Civil
Figure 5: Caraquet debris field. Photo taken by the author.
War Blockade Runner, Nola, a reminder how treacherous Bermuda’s reefs can be and how many wrecks can accumulate over time in a single spot. The site provides an excellent example of the damage caused by wide-scale pilfering over time. Now, dive operators and captains stress the importance of leaving objects on the site but it was not always so. I wonder why the essence of something appears only when it is threatened with disappearance (Sanz 2005). Why is it that we often only become conscious of a finite resource when it is nearly gone? Caraquet (Figure 5) The British iron steamer Caraquet sunk en-route from Antigua to Halifax in 1923. Scattered over two acres of ocean floor, visible structural remains include four large boilers, deck plates, capstans, winches, and lead pipes. The scattered wreckage provides an example of a relatively modern, widely spread out site. During my dives I noticed shipwrecks in various states of decay. A few including the North Carolina (Figure 6)
Figure 6: North Carolina. Another popular site, much of the rigging is still in-tact. Notice the crow’s nest (center) and dead-eye (left). Photo taken by author.
presented intact hulls and identifiable vessel forms while many others appeared as scattered wreckage or ballast stones. Observing this variety of wreck forms impressed on me how much might still be learned (even from salvaged sites) on the processes of wreck formation from the sheer number and variety of sites available for study. Historical Interest In addition to diving many of the more popular sites, I was privileged to dive on several, older historic wrecks including the Caesar, New Old Spaniard, and San Antonio. Caesar (Figure 7) The newest of these three sites, the Caesar, was an English brig built in 1814 and sunk just four years later, in 1818. The site is also known as the Millstone wreck for the
Figure 7: Caesar millstones (right) with Bob Steinhoff in background. Photo taken by author.
ship’s cargo of millstones ranging from one to four feet in diameter. In the mid 1960s, Teddy Tucker salvaged a portion of the site, recovering a number of millstones which he used to pave a path through his garden. In addition to millstones, medicine vials, decorated flasks, grandfather clock parts, glassware, and a marble cornice for a Baltimore church were all part of the cargo (Berg 1991: 12). When I dove the site, I noticed a number of wine bottle fragments and small ceramic fragments. Aside from the grindstones, I found no intact artifacts. This in itself, is hardly surprising. Berg’s book on Bermuda Shipwrecks includes images of the site being searched with metal detectors and deep holes being dug with dredges “in search of finding one of the rare bottles the Caesar carried as part of her cargo. The ship provides a typical example of an interesting site that has been heavily impacted by divers for purely recreational reasons.
New Old Spaniard The New Old Spaniard wreck is also known as the Lumberyard Wreck and IMHA2 (Bermuda Maritime Museum Files). The site was first uncovered and examined by Mendel Peterson and Teddy Tucker in 1960. The ship was given the nickname Lumberyard Wreck, as extensive hull remains were discovered preserved in an excavated sand pit. The original excavation removed a one meter square hull section for Nothing, however, was published and the section is reported to be examination.
warehoused at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in its original crates (Cooke 1999). As such, it ought to remain a warning to all archaeologists that excavating a wreck without plans for conservation, study, and exhibition can cause as much damage as outright salvage. The ship was rediscovered by Cathryn and Steven Hoyt in 1987 working for the Maritime Museum and the site dated to between 1560 and 1580. The extensive hull remains described by Peterson were still present and included the keel, keelson, floors, first futtocks, planking, and bilge ceilings (minus the one-meter section removed). They are particularly interesting as they may represent a traditional period of shipbuilding between “shell-first” and “frame-first” construction methods (Cooke 1999). The ship’s remaining features have been covered with sand to protect them and the only noticeable features when diving the site today are ballast stones. The availability of site plans, 1:1 drawings, dive logs, slides, and detailed inventories located in the Bermuda Maritime Museum’s archives distinguishes the site from others. They show the extent of information missing from many previous excavations (the Sea Venture being a notable exception with excellent records on file). San Antonio (Figure 8) In 1621 the Spanish San Antonio en route from Cartagena, Columbia to Spain fell victim to Bermuda’s reefs. The wrecking event and subsequent salvage were well documented in Bermudian and English documents and the modern rediscovery of the vessel has produced a number of outstanding artifacts. Included among the reported discoveries were tools and implements, combs, beads, pearl baptismal shells, crucifixes, shoe soles, incendiary and wooden case shot, stone and iron shot for guns, musket and
Figure 8: Fragments of pottery are still visible among the San Antonio’s ballast stones despite extensive salvaging of the site. Photo taken by author.
arquebus balls, bones from pickled fish and meat, intact olive jars, pottery fragments, “a treasure of gold and gem jewelry, gold chain links, and silver pieces of eight” (Cooke 1998). Unfortunately these artifacts were excavated without regard to archaeology. As a consequence, the site represents a huge loss to Bermuda’s UCH. Today, little remains of the massive ninety feet of ships’ timbers described by Tucker in 1958 although it is still possible to pick out fragments of 17th century pottery hiding among the ballast stones. Mystery Sites My experience would not have been complete without diving a number of sites whose identity and composition is still unknown. Sometimes, we would dive a set of coordinates where a wreck was reported and find nothing. On other occasions we would spot a piece of iron or wood with no other attachments. Searching, we would scan the bottom and reef for bits of cultural material that might give us a clue.
Russell Whayman, a photographer and Bermudian I was diving with, expressed his opinion that these unidentified sites were archaeology’s greatest challenge. As sites are “discovered” they are often named for a particular trait or its discoverer. When another diver finds the site, he may give it a different name for a different reason. As a result, even well-known wrecks may have two, three, or even four names. The identification of these sites and their correlation to historic records remains an impressive challenge that only increases if more material is removed without proper archaeological guidance. Observations Diving different sites every day for a month, I soon began to appreciate the scale of Bermuda’s underwater resource. In a month I barely had the chance to scrape the surface and I relied on locals whose diving experience dated back decades before my birth. As the people I dove with spoke on their experiences, I realized that over time their attitude and experience had changed. Time has taken its toll of the number of quality sights left to be discovered and excavated. Many locals feel that everything of value has been found. As the resource has become more precious, their attitude towards its preservation has become more protective.
LEGISLATION AND PATTERNS IN PAST HERITAGE MANAGEMENT: BERMUDA’S CHANGING POLICIES AND CHANGING ATTITUDES
Do changing policies reflect changing attitudes or are certain practices and opinions ingrained deeper than others? managed historically. Law, according to author Gary Gentile, “is a reflection of society’s code of morality” (Gentile 1989). That the Bermuda Wreck and Salvage Act passed in Bermuda in 1959 was upheld for more than forty years in regards to shipwreck and salvage law shows that it is possible to change what a society believes is right but that it is a long and arduous process. An analysis of the 1959 Act and the attempts to revise it in 1989, 1997, and 2001 when the Historic Wrecks Act was finally passed reveals a changing attitude from one supporting regulated exploitation by a few privileged Bermudians to an attitude supporting historic preservation and controlled, scientific exploration. The 1959 Act focused primarily on the correct salvage of vessels found in distress on Bermuda’s many reefs and is similar to other legislature based on Admiralty law with a few notable exceptions. Salvage under Admiralty law requires three elements to be shown: 1) the vessel was in maritime peril and required assistance, 2) the salvor acted voluntarily (i.e. he was not under contract or had a legal duty to assist) and 3) the salvor was successful in saving at least part of the property at risk. The Bermuda legislature varies in that it distinguishes between recent and historic wrecks and lists criteria, albeit vaguely for the difference between the two types of wreck. A historic wreck is, according to the legislature, not less than fifty years old and “of historic interest or value” (1959 Act Part II: 28.1). The act does not specify what requirements a ship must meet to have historic value and thus classification as “historic” was based purely on a committee’s evaluation. Bermuda’s 1959 Act recognized the growing presence and interest of sub-aqua or scuba divers in exploring and exploiting these sites. Even before Jacque-Yves Cousteau’s Looking at underwater cultural heritage management on Bermuda, this chapter will examine how heritage on the island has been
The Silent World had won an Oscar in 1956, Teddy Tucker and a small group of Bermuda treasure salvors had explored the depths. Tucker’s famous discovery off Bermuda of a gold cross set with seven emeralds in 1955 sparked the imagination of the world and led Smithsonian’s curator Dr. Mendel Peterson to travel to Bermuda to inspect the find. for-all). What the Act did The Act sought to regulate diving activities by forbidding diving in the vicinity of “historic wreck” and the “marking, mutilating, destroying, removing, or otherwise interfering with the wreck UNLESS AUTHORIZED BY LICENCE.” To compensate for excluding divers from wrecks, the Act stated that some wrecks would be designated as “unprotected,” a list of these sites were published in Bermuda’s official Gazette, and made open to the public for enjoyment and consumption. operators (Table 1). According to the 1959 Act, any of these “unprotected” sites might be visited without a license. While use of explosives, pressure hoses, water-hoses, and vacuumhoses were forbidden, nothing excluded the visiting diver from removing and collecting bits of wreck by hand. In practice, many operators actively encouraged visiting divers to recover artifacts to enrich their experience. These finds and collections of artifacts were often displayed on board and used by operators to encourage further scavenging. Unprotected sites include about twenty wrecks, including several visited by the author during her study in Bermuda. They vary in date from 1838 ( L’Hermione) to 1943 (Constellation). For the management of these and other wrecks, an advisory committee of three to seven persons was appointed. This committee, or Wrecks Authority, issued licenses to applicants for the survey or excavation of sites not listed as unprotected. Under salvage law, artifacts recovered would be reported to the Receiver who, under the 1959 Act, Today, these mostly iron-hulled wrecks continue to make up the majority of sites visited by local dive The resulting excitement and treasure furor helps explains why Bermuda included provisions for the salvage of historic wrecks in the 1959 Act (to prevent a free-
might release some or all of the finds to the licensee. The licensee would be compensated for any retained finds with “an unspecified agreed upon or arbitrated amount.” Although the government might retain finds, they were required under the 1959 Act to compensate the salvor. In practice, very few artifacts were retained and the salvors were rewarded for their efforts by being allowed to keep them to keep and/or dispose of the recovered artifacts. As conservation was often sporadic and successful methods only developed through unsuccessful trial and error, it is little wonder that only a fraction of items recovered under this law survive today. In trying to understand shipwrecks worked under this system, archaeologists have often had to rely on newspaper pictures depicting artifact assemblages (interview with Charlotte Andrews). While this act stood out from earlier salvage law by acknowledging the presence of historic wrecks it lacked any provision for the protection, study, exhibition, or conservation of retained finds. Additionally, members of the advisory council were not required to possess any specific qualifications. As a consequence the membership of the committee represented wreck diving interests above those of archaeologists, historians, or conservators, none of which were represented until the 1980s. Although the Bermuda Wreck and Salvage Act was passed in 1959, the Wrecks Authority’s did not hold its first meetings until 1964 and 1965. The committee was composed of six members including Teddy Tucker and several keen divers. Their expressed aims included exploiting the large number of historic wrecks around the Bermudas, both as a tourist attraction and as a long-term method of placing the Colony permanently on the map as a unique contributor to world knowledge in this particular field (1964 Meeting Minutes). With this aim, the committee created a list of designated “unprotected” wreck sites. Today, a map showing Bermuda’s wreck dives will list these wrecks and occasionally others (such as the famous Sea Venture). Sites that were not “unprotected” were permitted but permits were handed out irregularly and at the discretion of the committee. That they were awarded to a small group of privileged individuals is supported by the fact that out of all the individuals and groups to apply for a license, only a few white, male Bermudians were ever officially granted excavation rights.
Early Attitudes Although Teddy Tucker was not the only enthusiast searching Bermuda’s clear waters for treasure in the 1950s and 1960s, his public statements and interviews reflect a common, early view that taking artifacts and treasure from the sea was both a natural and good pursuit. Submerged artifacts were, in the era’s parlance, rotting away and ought to be rescued by people with the knowledge, ability, and skill to do so. In 1962 Tucker wrote, “In a way I can compare the reefs of Bermuda to a semiprivate Fort Knox. I know the locations of 112 shipwrecks scattered among the thousands of sand holes which dot the Bermuda reefs…Little by little I am uncovering these  galleons, working patiently over one wreck at a time until I am satisfied that I have picked it clean” (Tucker 1962). Thus an early attitude viewed artifacts as a resource that should be mined and exploited. That Tucker compared shipwrecks to a private Fort Knox further illustrates the early treasure diver’s monetary incentive to recover gold and valuables over other artifacts. Changing Attitudes The 1960s and 1970s witnessed a shift in public attitude. While the motto of the 1950s had too often been to tear down the old to make way for the new, the 1960s saw the spread of heritage management programs across the globe. Spain, France, and Great Britain all passed laws to expand the protection of historic monuments on land in the 1960s with the Charter of Athens, “Commission des Secteurs Sauvegardes,” and Civic Amenities Act (Fisch 2005). While governments were quick to realize that protecting historical heritage on land could benefit the region, attracting tourists and boosting the economy, a veritable free-for-all persisted underwater. This difference reflects in part, the discipline’s youth. While the public were familiar with archaeology on land, maritime archaeology was a brand new field. Treasure salving as imagined and practiced on Bermuda was still considered to be respectable and exciting work. That the Smithsonian worked alongside divers to recover objects further legitimized their actions (Johnson 2001), especially as all work was supposedly conducted under permit by the Wrecks Authority and Bermudian
government. Glossy spreads of Tucker and his treasure in Time magazine lent even further support. The turning point for Bermuda and the management of its heritage lies in 1974, the year that the Bermuda Maritime Museum was established, acquiring the derelict grounds at the Naval Dockyard. Between the creation of the maritime museum and the passage of the 2001 Historic Wrecks Act, several attempts were made to pass protective legislature. The first, in 1989, shows a growing concern to protect the underwater heritage and the polarization of both sides of the argument. On one side were the archaeologists and individuals who wrote the bill. Their aims were multiple; they sought to tighten control over the exploration and excavation of historic wrecks, change the organization that handled licenses from the Department of Finance to the Department of Culture, and reduce the minimum age for protection of sites from fifty to twenty-five years. They emphasized that all finds should be entrusted to an institution for preservation, study and exhibition and NO compensation would be given to licensees who recovered artefacts. The bill also stated that the committee would be made up of three to five members from the fields of history, archaeology, education, and related professions. Those in support of the 1959 Legislation whose interest lay in maintaining the status quo included treasure salvors, members of the Wrecks Authority, and author Peter Benchley. As a group they deplored the legislature as too restrictive. In newspaper editorials and short articles, they attacked the conservationists and archaeologists as elitist, overzealous, selfish intellectuals who in their opinion, sought to retain possession of the wrecks for their sole benefit at the exclusion of others. In their opinion, the 1959 law wasn’t broke and didn’t need fixing. As Benchley wrote, “The 1959 Act has worked well for Bermudians and visitors alike. I hope that it will not be mutilated for the benefit of a vociferous few” (Benchley 1988). Benchley, in an effort to preserve the status quo calls the 1959 Act “one of the most enlightened shipwreck acts in the world” and the efforts to change it by:
a misguided band of overzealous academics …in such a way as effectively to shut down wreck diving in Bermuda, or rather, to make it their private province. Their theory is that any old shipwreck is of historical value and should either be excavated only by folks who append the alphabet to their surnames, or left to rot in her grave (Benchley 73: 1988). The colourful mudslinging debate between polarized groups was published in the Royal Gazette and other Bermudian newspapers. As a collection of articles, it illustrates that passionate opinions existed on both sides and that there was little suggestion for future compromise from either side. Unfortunately for the preservationists, according to Bermuda Maritime Museum director Dr. Edward Harris, the legislation was “wrecked in the political election of 1989” (Harris 2002: 13). Unsuccessful, it was shelved for eight years until it was revised and rewritten in 1997. In the meantime, Bermuda’s policies towards the salvage of historic wrecks attracted criticism from outside Bermuda. During a visit to the islands, Vancouver Maritime Museum director James Delgado observed land restoration work by the Bermuda National Trust on various buildings. Similar steps ought to be taken underwater, he argued. “The international trend,” he said, “is towards conservation and preservation ethics” (The Royal Gazette: 1994). Dive operators should encourage the preservation of sites and oppose wreck pilfering, he stated, after observing how the Constellation, one of Bermuda’s unprotected wrecks had “basically been pilfered to death” (1994). That Delgado’s visit was covered by The Royal Gazette demonstrates a strong interest by locals in underwater affairs. The second attempt at legislation in 1997 outlined general licensing procedures and established the concept of a national collection “to be held, preserved, studied, and exhibited in a designated institution.” It also required the submission of artefact lists and established what qualifications a licensee should possess. The Act stated the importance of preserving the wreck before and after conservation. Importantly, it redressed the compensation issue by allowing licensees to be compensated for artefacts recovered, a point that was deeply criticized by the archaeologists. This Bill, like the 1989 Act failed. According to Bermuda Maritime Museum director Dr. Edward Harris, it was “scuppered in 1997 in the House of Assembly by a team of enlightened Members of Parliament led by Trevor Moniz” (Harris 2002: 13).
Newspapers (The Royal Gazette, Bermuda Sun) emphasized the strained relationship between the archaeological and diving communities. On one side, archaeologists claimed that the 1997 legislature sold out their heritage while on the other side, advocates of the act claimed it would “safeguard wrecks and encourage divers to report their finds” (Zuill 1997: 1). With the 1959 Legislation still on the books, the Bermuda Wrecks Authority continued to regulate which divers should have access to wreck sites. While several local divers were allowed to continue working local wrecks based on the recommendation and referral of committee members, others were refused access. The Authority continued to operate from a Bermudian-first policy, refusing to grant licenses to applicants without a direct connection to the Island or an institution on the island like the Bermuda Maritime Museum. Applications filed by the American-based company, Golden Quest, Ltd. to excavate “a known 16th-Century vessel” were repeatedly refused on fears that the company would “plunder historic sites without thought for the archaeology of the wrecks” (Greenfield 1998). Interestingly, it was not the removal of artefacts that worried the committee but the idea that it would be non-Bermudians exploiting a jealouslyguarded local resource. When local divers discovered an eighteenth-century headless figurehead exposed on a reef they chose to remove it from the other ship timbers and deliver it without conservation treatment to the Bermuda Maritime Museum without obtaining a license from the committee (themselves). This put the Bermuda Maritime Museum in a dilemma. According to the Museum’s official policy on the acquisition of objects, the museum “will not accept any object recovered since 1980 from an archaeological or historic site in an unscientific manner” and any object accepted must be properly stored and conserved (Collections Management Policy of the Bermuda Maritime Museum). By accepting an object that would otherwise be lost, the museum assumed responsibility for an artefact that not only required an extensive investment in time and money to conserve, but also challenged their policy on artefact acquisition. Most recently, Bermuda finally succeeded in replacing its 1959 legislature (the Bill passed in 2001, the Act in January 2002, and the full law came into effect in 2003). The thirteen-page Bill, based partly on British legislation, declares all Bermuda wrecks
and historic artefacts to be “Crown property.” It divides wrecks into two categories: open and restricted and activity on the sites into three: non-invasive surveys, recovery of restricted wreck remains, and recovery of open wreck materials. No mention is afforded to treasure salvage or salvors, although a “good faith honorarium” is offered to individuals who report the discovery of unknown wrecks to the proper authorities (Historic Wrecks Act: 9). The 2002 Act government backbencher Delaney Robinson reportedly claimed, “The days of the cowboys and Indians are over” (Johnson Ayo 2001: 7) and Dr. Paul Johnston, curator of Maritime History, national Museum of American History, Smithsonian, applauded the bill as a paradigm for other nations-both large and small- with long, strong relationships to the sea but no preservation legislation in place to protect their dwindling underwater cultural heritage for their citizens and visitors alike (Johnston 11). The implications of the 2001 Bill for the management of Bermuda’s underwater cultural resources were numerous and included the “establishment of the Authority…to be called the Historic Wrecks Authority” who would advise both the Minister and Custodian (two elected government officials) on 1) the management of historic wrecks, 2) the national collection, 3) the classification of wrecks and sites and 4) licenses to conduct research (HWA 2001: 3). The Historic Wrecks Act passed in 2002 is not without its critics. Hailed as a giant step forward by preservationists, it immediately fell under attack by those who wished to maintain the 1959 status quo. The strength and influence of these individuals is demonstrated by their efforts to amend the act in their favor. Working with the existing bill, they attempted to and continue to work to amend specific clauses in their favor. They sought to extend the amnesty period indefinitely for the reporting of objects (such would mean an object recovered after the passage of the act could be reported to have been recovered prior to its passage, thereby avoiding penalty or confiscation). They also worked to revise the defined role of the Authority, so to include control of marine heritage sites rather than control over all sites. By giving the Authority exclusive control of designated marine heritage sites rather than control over all sites, the authority would
have limited control over sites not officially designated.
Sites under threat would
therefore have to undergo a designation process before they could be officially protected. Most recently, they are working to define the “National Collection” as a virtual collection whereby the finders of objects are allowed to keep artefacts privately and images are stored on an electronic database. The question of whether objects recovered by treasure hunting should be publicly displayed can be contentious. The Bermuda Maritime Museum’s policy offers one stance while the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute (BUEI) offers another. The former, under the direction of archaeologist Edward Harris, adheres to the ethical standards set down by the International Congress of Maritime Museums (ICMM) in 1990, which forbids the acceptance, purchase, or display of objects so recovered. BUEI which was established by a private government bill in 1992 and opened in 1997 has adopted a more lenient policy. Described by critics as an anti-museum, the BUEI displays objects recovered from the waters around Bermuda including those obtained by treasure hunters and shell collectors. The Institute offers individuals including Teddy Tucker and Jack Lightbourn the opportunity to display their collections while other museums might ethically have to decline them. Thus at one site, the public is told that artefacts taken without regard to archaeology is not acceptable while on the other, they are displayed without mentioning the effect their removal had on the archaeological record. In this way the public is miseducated. The public’s impression and attitude is also affected by the portrayal of “explorers” and underwater treasure hunters in the media. The 1970s film ‘The Deep’ captures the Bermudian scene prior to the revision of the 1959 legislature. Based on the actual wreck of the Constellation which contained thousands of ampoules of adrenaline and other war-time drugs, the heroes of the 1978 film are a wreck diving couple on vacation in Bermuda. Recovering artefacts from the modern drug ship they stumble upon golden treasure from the 16th century. The dangerous nature of salvage is emphasized as they battle both the underwater elements and the local drug lords in an effort to find the historic provenance that will enrich their discoveries.
The lack of a single stance on the issue of treasure hunting in the media is unfortunate and contributes to public misunderstanding. Many locals and tourists alike are not sure what is legal or illegal on Bermuda. During my time diving in Bermuda I found that many divers were unsure whether it was legal to collect objects. That collecting occurs despite laws prohibiting it is quite likely. On one of my first dives with long-time diver and boat Captain Bob Steinhoff, he emphatically stated, “this boat doesn’t collect artifacts.” When I asked him if he thought collecting was still a problem on other boats he said that he was sure it was but that it was becoming less so as people became aware of the new law. Despite the success of the Historic Wrecks Act some attitudes remain unchanged. Bottles collected from the seafloor are still hawked to tourists, expensive price tags touting the rarity of each find. Even as legislation now prevents the legal removal of artefacts, the sale of previously recovered objects goes unchecked.
PREVIOUS UNDERWATER RESEARCH IN BERMUDA ON THE HISTORIC ENVIRONMENT
Submerged history has fascinated people for as long as they have explored the sea. Sunken ships and lost cities have inspired authors to create fabulous adventures long before archaeologists turned their attention to such work. Before archaeologists there were salvors and wreckers; local free divers who challenged the elements to wrest a living from the sea. Modern treasure salvers claim to be following in these footsteps; they claim to be taking back what has been permanently lost and constantly destroyed. archaeologists, we know this is false. The difficulties in creating a systematic review of underwater work done around Bermuda are multiple. Although the Bermuda Maritime Museum has maintained a full record of every excavation and survey it has participated in, other groups have not. In analyzing sites previously worked, museum workers have often had to rely on newspaper articles and photographs for information on artefacts recovered and since lost. Sources for Underwater Work in Bermuda When I first arrived on Bermuda I thought it would be possible to recreate a history of previous underwater work from the official records of the Wrecks Authority. I soon discovered that not only was the location for the majority of these records unknown but that even if they were located, they would paint an incomplete picture. As the official licensing authority established under the 1959 Act, the Wrecks Authority was responsible for deciding which sites should be “unprotected.” It was also responsible for regulating diving and issuing permits (for any activity) on all other sites. I learned that these records would not provide a complete picture because there was much activity that occurred without licensing. Why? Two main reasons: enforcement and encouragement. The Wrecks authority was not provided with any means by which to enforce the 1959 Law. An individual was usually only caught “working” a site when another (usually competitive) individual spotted his vessel over a site. The second As
reason, encouragement, lies is understanding the politics of a small island.
individuals who sat on the wrecks authority were divers and treasure salvors. Individuals seeking to obtain a license to dive a new site were required to provide a detailed description of the site and its coordinates to the Committee for approval. Depending on the site, a committee member would often volunteer to ground-truth the licensee’s application. Ground-truthing the site could involve using a prop-wash, suction dredge, or air hose to assess the potential value of a site (Jane Downing). The committee member could then offer his recommendation whether the license application should be granted or refused (perhaps allowing him to work the site). As a result, applicants often provided incorrect coordinates or sought to downplay any significant finds they had made. Divers were not encouraged to provide accurate information, and often delayed their application in order to protect their claim on a site (which could be made after the site’s integrity was lost). Any filed information is therefore suspect. Another source of information for underwater work in Bermuda is local newspaper and magazine articles featuring famous or significant discoveries. The significance of this source, incomplete as it is, is demonstrated by the Bermuda Maritime Museum staff’s own admission that they have often relied on images of early collections to accurately date a number of early 16th-17th Century shipwrecks (Charlotte Andrews). A third source of information lies in two sixty page books published in the 1990s by Noel Hume and Daniel and Denise Berg. These books, both based on interviews with Teddy Tucker provide a snapshot glimpse of many of the sites and their artefacts. They are not written from an archaeologist’s perspective but rather from the historically interested treasure salvor. The conclusion of Hume’s book not only criticizes archaeologists for their careless treatment of artefacts but also claims that archaeologists see excavation as an abstract intellectual exercise in which the sites being excavated are expendable (Hume 63)1. A fourth source is the memory of the remaining, living treasure salvors, although this source, too, has faults. Memory of a particular site after forty years may not be accurate. Particular discoveries of treasure may be more memorable than the size or layout of a site, dates may be confused, and memory just plain wrong. I learned from
Hume writes on Edwin Dethlefson’s 1972 excavation of the Stonewall Wreck with Franklin Pierce College.
numerous people of a particular salvor who enjoyed spinning a yarn and out and out lied about some things. Oral history is not stagnant but is constantly reinvented to suit the attitude of the era or even interviewee. The personality of the interviewee must be considered as well as the interviewer’s point of view. An event may be recollected in different ways to suit different interviews. Finally, the fifth and most accurate source is the Maritime Museum’s records. Although the museum was established in 1974, it did not become involved in underwater archaeology until the next decade. Consequently, its records begin around 1984, six years after the Sea Venture was first surveyed and recorded. The following history has been pieced together using all the sources mentioned above. A similar activity may be possible for other islands but its success would depend on the quality and quantity of primary data available. Bermuda’s Underwater Work in the 1960s Underwater Work in the 1960s came on the heels of Teddy Tucker’s discovery in 1955 of a famous gold cross encrusted with emeralds. Spreads of the discovery in Time Magazine and the Saturday Evening Post had placed Bermuda on the map and encouraged interpret adventurers to prospect Bermuda’s clear waters for treasure. The passage of the 1959 Act sought to regulate this and succeeded in many ways by limiting the number and nationality of licensees to a small group of white, male Bermudians. Individuals from outside Bermuda who conducted work during this period closely relied on the experience and expertise of these men. For example, Mendel Peterson traveled to Bermuda and worked throughout the decade on a number of sites including the 1812 Caesar, the 1659 Eagle, the General Armstrong, the Jug Wreck, the 1838 L’Hermione, the Lord Amherst, the Marie Celeste, the Montana/Nola, the New Old Spaniard wreck, the Richard Buck, the 1611 San Antonio, the 1609 Sea Venture, the 1594 San Pedro, the Tankard wreck, the 18th Century Twisted Stem Wreck, the 1661 Virginia Merchant, and the 1619 Warwick. Peterson worked with Tucker and other locals, gathering information on each site’s history and developing ideas for better ways to excavate. Unfortunately the link between local explorers and academic institutions did
not bear additional fruit and the Smithsonian’s involvement was an exception rather than the rule (Harris 1993). Bermuda’s Underwater Work in the 1970s The 1970s witnessed a number of changes including the creation of the Bermuda Maritime Museum. Heritage on land, thanks to the efforts of Dr. Edward Harris and others, assumed greater significance. Underwater, Edwin Dethlefson conducted two field schools with students from Franklin Pearce College in New Hampshire, examining the Hunter Galley and the Stonewall Wreck2. On the Stonewall Wreck near Western Blue Cut, he writes that the vessel is in such good condition that “it demands further close attention.” His reports, some of the few surviving records for the decade’s work, reveal some of the challenges faced by early maritime archaeologists (IJNA 1977). They would also prove useful in 1992, when the site was relocated by Gordon Watts team’s survey. Dethlefson writes of the general condition of archaeological sites on Bermuda in the 1970s: While it is hard to imagine a place more broadly representative of transatlantic and transcolonial nautical history than Bermuda, we are unaware that any of Bermuda’s historical wrecks has ever been more than sketchily described in the popular press…yet the location of many Bermuda wrecks are already well-known by salvors and sport divers (Dethlefson IN Godet 5: 1993). On Bermuda Law he comments that “no archaeological reportage or excavation supervision is required, with the consequence that a good many of her historical shipwrecks have been more or less butchered, while next to nothing has been published about them” (Dethlefson IN Godet 5: 1993). The 1970s also witnessed the first of several excavations undertaken jointly by the Bermuda Maritime Museum. Discovered in 1958 by Edmund Downing, the museum launched an archaeological investigation of the Sea Venture in 1978. Not only was the wreck responsible for Bermuda’s early colonization but it also made literary history: Shakespeare dramatized the event in one of his last plays, “The Tempest” written in 1611. Work on the site continued through the 1980s and
Hume reports the field school occurred in 1972 (Hume 1995: 63) while Gordon Watts writes that the work occurred in May and June of 1975 (Watts 2003: 63).
represents one of the first successful collaborations between archaeologists, interested divers, and the public (Dr. Jonathon Adams). Bermuda’s Underwater Work in the 1980s A partnership between the Maritime Museum and East Carolina University began in 1982 when American underwater archaeologists Gordon P. Watts and John Broadwater visited Bermuda to view the remains of the Sea Venture. East Carolina University’s program in Maritime History and Nautical Archaeology (established 1981) established a field school in Bermuda. Throughout the 1980s, the field school served to educate graduate students in the methods of underwater archaeology while providing the museum with information from a variety of sites. From 1983 to 1986, these projects in Bermuda assessed historic source material and submerged cultural resources relating to the American Civil War. The blockade runners Mary Celestia and Nola benefited from survey work. Results from the investigations were published in the Bermuda Journal of Archaeology and Maritime History in 1993. Meanwhile, the Sea Venture Trust was organized to document, survey, and excavate the wreck of the Sea Venture. Between 1982 and 1990 the site was excavated and recorded in annual four to six week seasons. The work represents one of the first collaborative efforts in the region between local divers, museum members, and visiting archaeologists. Several articles were published and major efforts were made to keep the public involved in each step of the project. In addition to local write-ups in Bermuda’s newspapers, work was summarized in the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology and several books (Adams 1985; Bass 1988; Wingood 1982, 1986). Site plans, recovered artifacts, and reports were entrusted to the Bermuda Maritime Museum for conservation and exhibition. In 1987, ECU moved their attentions to revisiting the New Old Spaniard or Lumberyard wreck, a site which Tucker and the Smithsonian had investigated in the 1960s. Investigations dated the wreck to between 1620 and 1640 (Watts 1993: 33). The following years’ work examined an early 16th century wreck located on Western Ledge Reef. Only after work progressed into the following year (1989) was a prior claim on the vessel discovered. In 1964, Brian Malpas and Donald Canton had applied for and
received a license to excavate the site. Their finds included cast iron cannon, olive jars, coins, and a ship’s bell. A series of test excavations to determine whether vessel structure uncovered in the 1960s survived, revealed associated debris but no articulated vessel structure. Removal of a small area of undisturbed ballast revealed a portion of hull which was determined significant enough to be lifted from the seabed in 1990. Bermuda’s Underwater Work in the 1990s Work on the Western Ledge Wreck continued through 1991. The hull structure was recovered and transported to the Corange Laboratory in Bermuda for storage and conservation. Timbers were cleaned thoroughly to identify tool marks and important features. Mylar sheets were used to record at least three sides of each piece of timber in 1:1 scale. In 1992, a systematic shipwreck survey was initiated using a Differential Global Position System (DGPS). The survey succeeded in locating twenty-three sites containing shipwreck material. One of these, simply named the 18th Century Wrecks, became the subject of investigation the following year and another, the 17th Century Stonewall Wreck was relocated (Dean 1996). The investigation of the 18th Century Wreck served as a useful test for a newly developed software program created by Nick Rule for use on the 16th century warship Mary Rose. Links with ECU and England during the 1990s facilitated the exchange of new techniques, ideas, qualified labour, and the publication of numerous theses, all based on various projects in Bermuda. For example, the Stonewall Wreck was used by ECU graduate student Kelly Bumpass and the 19th Century wreck was used by Michael Krivor (1998). The 1990s saw student archaeologists revisit numerous sites that were well-known but poorly recorded. For example, in 1995, the French frigate L’Hermione was visited by graduate student Sarah Waters who undertook a historical and archaeological investigation of the site for her thesis, using volunteers from the Maritime Archaeological and Historical Society (Waters 1996). Her thesis was completed in 1999. The Bermudabuilt Hunter Galley (one of Dethlefson’s research sites) became the subject for Chris Southerly’s thesis completed in 2003 and the derelict steamer Ready was used by Sarah
Milstead in 1998. Thus by the end of 1990s students from across the United States were coming to Bermuda from a number of institutions including the University of Rhode Island, the University of California Berkeley, and St. Mary’s College. In the 1990s, conservation work on a number of artefacts occurred in Bermuda. For example, two canon and two swivel guns which were recovered in 1983 from the Santa Lucia, a 16th century Spanish Vessel, finally underwent active conservation in 1998 after fifteen years of wet storage. Their treatment was completed in 2001 (Smith 2001). Bermuda’s Underwater Work since 2000 From 1999 to 2001, a team sponsored by Earthwatch conducted archaeological and historical research on the North Carolina, a three-masted iron barque resting in Bermuda’s waters. Their preliminary findings are reported in Volume 13 of the Bermuda Journal of Archaeology and Maritime History. Despite progress and work done by the museum and ECU field schools, many of Dethlefson’s derogatory 1970s comments on Bermuda’s shipwreck management continued to be valid (Godet 6: 1993). The efforts to pass effective legislation described in chapter two reveal a growing movement to preserve Bermuda’s underwater cultural heritage by creating blanket legislature. These efforts, as previously described finally cumulated with the passage of the Historic Wrecks Act in 2002 which finally came into force in 2003. Since the passage of the Historic Wrecks Act, there has been less activity by treasure salvers on Bermuda’s wrecks. In 2001, the Smithsonian Collection, a collection of artefacts salvaged from Bermuda’s shipwrecks in the 1960s by Teddy Tucker and Mendel Peterson, were returned to the Island. Since the collection’s return, a number of small research studies have examined the artefacts and their importance (Seeb 2004). That this collection of thousands of historic artefacts was entrusted to the Maritime Museum and not to the Bermuda Underwater Institute for Exploration (BUEI) is telling. The Bermuda Maritime Museum conforms to all ICMM guidelines while the BUIE does not. The BUIE’s collections policy is more lenient to allow treasure hunters to display their finds. Unfortunately such policies also prevent the institute from acquiring collections from some sources.
Despite shifts in opinion that have allowed legislation to be passed, there remain a minority of individuals who seek to avoid or undermine that law. The actions of this minority should not be understated. Just as it does not take a majority of people to be criminals in order to make an entire city unsafe, it does not take a majority of divers to be treasure hunters to destroy sites so that no one can benefit from their preservation. Despite a history of mismanagement and destruction, Bermuda’s wreck resources remain a valuable and interesting tool for archaeologists. Thanks to the recent Historic Wrecks Act and efforts by the Bermuda Maritime Museum, Bermuda has taken important steps to ensure that at least a small part of its heritage is preserved for posterity.
THE PEOPLE’S HERITAGE? NON-PROFESSIONAL LOCAL INTEREST AND CLAIMS ON THE UNDERWATER CULTURAL HERITAGE OF BERMUDA
We take for granted that heritage belongs to the public but who has the right to manage, access and consume it? Who are the true stewards of this resource? For this chapter, I have relied on a combination of informal interviews, personal observations, and newspaper articles and editorials to assess the public’s perception of this resource. In general, I found Bermudians to be interested, concerned individuals who are proud of their local Island heritage. I also found that the average non-diver knew at least something about local treasure hunting and “trinkets” recovered from wreck sites. Efforts to conserve Bermuda’s natural resources have resulted in local pressure to leave sea shells and other natural resources in-situ. As a result, individuals are quick to condemn the removal of sea shells or other “natural” artefacts from the seabed and support the introduction of mooring balls to reduce damage to the coral reef system. Interestingly, sea shells and other natural resources which used to be considered free for the taking are now often protected by much stronger legislation than finite, cultural resources including submerged archaeological sites. While institutions like the Maritime Museum try to foster this protective attitude towards historic artefacts and shipwrecks, there remains a strong sense of nostalgia and local pride in the “achievements” of early wreck salvors. Many locals feel that the contribution of these individuals to the Island far outweighs any loss of knowledge to archaeology. Despite efforts to educate the public, many Bermudians continue to believe that cultural artefacts removed from the sea belong to the finder, especially if they were uncovered prior to the introduction of protective legislation.
The Difference in Perspectives between the Natural and Historic Underwater Environment Until recently, it was a common to collect seashells. No one thought twice about picking up a pretty cowry shell or breaking off a piece of coral for a souvenir. Now, however, as the diving community increasingly feels the impact of collecting on local ecosystems and fish populations and as divers increasingly notice the wear and tear to their favourite dive sites, shell collecting has become taboo in most parts of the world. I was interested to see whether the same divers who discouraged any form of shell collecting were opposed to artefact collection. I discovered an interesting split which relates to the enforcement of particular laws and policies as well as the role of local stewardship. Divers diving in areas with laws protecting the underwater cultural resources who are aware of the law generally avoid removing artefacts, especially if they are found on a coherent wreck site. Their logic is that if they remove the bits and pieces which attract others to the site, the entire diving community will suffer. An example of this is the site of the Thistlegorm in Eygpt. Where there were once boxes of boots and dozens of perfectly preserved trucks, there are now a few scattered soles and dozens of smashed windshields. As divers familiar with the site witnessed the destruction, they became increasingly adamant that no more artefacts were removed. Such stewardship only became prominent, however, after divers began to realize that the vessel was a finite resource. Once the artefacts that make it an enjoyable dive are gone, they will not be replaced and divers will go elsewhere. Unlike natural resources like sea shells which will gradually replace themselves, shipwrecks are a unique resource that once lost, are gone forever. On the other hand, many divers who would not remove artefacts from a ship like the Thislegorm, will not hesitate to pick up a bottle or canon ball as a souvenir from a holiday in the Caribbean, especially if it is not part of a coherent site. The logic behind their action is that these particular artefacts are not archaeologically or historically significant. They incorrectly believe that a bottle or canon ball of known type cannot inform archaeology. Besides, they believe they are diving in an area where there is no protective legislature and if they do not remove the object, another diver will. Even in
areas where protective legislation exists, many divers are unaware of its presence and continue to collect because “that is what people do here.” Local Interest Bermudians are proud of their heritage. The individuals I spoke with professed an interest and knowledge in a vast array of affairs ranging from local politics to Island history. One taxi driver passed me bottles of sand given to him by Teddy Tucker that were taken from wreck sites around the island. He wanted to illustrate the difference between sites and where Bermuda got its reputation for pink-sand beaches. As he rambled from topic to topic, he demonstrated that even individuals who have never dove are familiar with the Island’s history and its main charismatic figures of treasure hunting. This interest among non-divers was further demonstrated when, tying up at the dock after a long day of diving, one of the station employees leaned over the edge, eye on dive gear and asked, half-serious, half-joking, “Did you find any treasure?” It occurred to me that if we had pulled up in a car for petrol with shovels and screens in the back of a truck, it never would have occurred to him to ask if we had found any gold. To many non-divers, the sea remains an unconquered and therefore free territory. Thanks to educational efforts by PADI and other professional dive organizations, these opinions among divers are slowly being changed; the majority of divers are now taught to look but not touch when diving. Scuba diving manuals teach students to “take only pictures, leave only bubbles” (PADI Open Water Dive Manual: 132). People who dive around Bermuda can be divided into two groups: organized recreational divers who use one of the Island’s dive operators and divers who dive with a local guide either from shore or a private boat. The former group dives with one of three dive operators who work out of Bermuda from five locations. These recreational divers are dependent on a dive briefing to provide detailed information on the site they are diving. Their expectations vary; some want to find a particular fish species, others want to add another “wreck” dive to their log book, and still others are interested in the particular history of a site. As divers their skill level varies from newly certified divers to experienced Scuba professionals enjoying a day off. Chapter six gives an example how these divers have been more fully involved in
heritage management on other islands by using shipwreck trails and other forms of public education. Divers who do not dive with one of the dive operators will often find themselves as I did with an experienced and knowledgeable boat captain who will use his own boat as a dive platform and serve as a guide for each dive location. Personalities differ and so does “local” knowledge. Two captains might dive the same site but use different names for the ship or, the name of the site might change over time. I found in one case, the captain was extremely knowledgeable about the site’s layout but lacked any idea what type of ship it was. When I asked him what ship it was he answered that he did not know. “I just find them” was his reply. Many local boat captains and divers are curious about where particular sites are located; they are interested to discover new sites or sites which may have been known and subsequently lost. Information on a particular site and its location may be shared between a small group of divers who take turns using each others’ boats to visit sites. Observing local divers made me appreciate that the underwater cultural heritage is valued by many groups who accept this resource is both finite and diminishing. Who’s Heritage is it? Until 2001, the legal answer to the question who owns Bermuda’s underwater cultural heritage was best expressed by the old adage, “Finders keepers losers weepers.” Under the 1959 Act, finders were allowed to keep their finds provided they offered the government the chance to buy them, first. Finders were rewarded as salvors for their efforts working to wrest bits of cultural history from the sea. As owners of their discoveries, they had the right to choose what happened to the artefacts. Consequently, it was at their personal discretion whether artefacts were conserved and put on public or private display. It was their decision whether assemblages were broken up and sold or given away as presents to friends and influential individuals. As attitudes changed, the risks of diving decreased, and the heritage movement gained momentum, artefact collectors chose to emphasize several “critical facts” in an effort to assert their ownership over finds. The finder, they argued, worked long and hard and was therefore entitled to whatever he might uncover. The vast majority of artefacts
uncovered were, they argued, merely duplicates offering no new information about shipbuilding techniques. Further, they were entitled to them because “most museums do not want and will not accept shipwreck artefacts that are not either unique or of acute historical importance;” consequently it is only natural for them to own what they worked hard to obtain (Mathewson 1986; Benchley 1988). They argued that the recovery of shipwreck artefacts by entrepreneurs was for the community’s greater good and if it were not for the individuals who worked the wrecks in the past, we would not have the information and knowledge we have today. The other side of the argument states that the removal of the Island’s heritage by a few individuals for their personal gain and enjoyment does not benefit anyone except themselves. The loss of information through insufficient conservation outweighs any gain through increased publicity and tourism. Heritage ought to be preserved and conserved so it remains for the enjoyment of future generations. But who is right? The concept that material uncovered from the past is “property” and can be owned by those charged with its care is taken for granted and agreed on by both sides of the debate. John Carman argues that this is in fact false, and that heritage should not be considered “property” as is does not properly fit any of the four types of property relation that is recognized by economists and lawyers (private ownership, state ownership, communal ownership, and open access). The debate over who owns the heritage is, according to Carman, incorrect as the real debate ought to be whether heritage can in fact be owned (Carman 2005). Regardless of the theoretical implications if heritage cannot be owned, the fact remains that on Bermuda and elsewhere there exists real animosity between different groups who claim ownership over the underwater cultural heritage. On Bermuda, this debate is illustrated by two groups: the “treasure salvers” and the “archaeologists.” It is by no means unique and although the groups might have different names elsewhere (i.e. “wreck divers” and “wreck huggers”), the argument is remarkably similar. One group wishes to retain the status quo “cowboy days” and the other seeks to control or regulate the exploitation of the underwater cultural heritage by limiting access or increasing penalties for disturbing the site and/or removing artifacts.
Bermuda Case Study: Cultural Heritage Ownership Debate On Bermuda this argument came to a head in the 1970s and 1980s. At this time, the 1959 Act remained unaltered, the Bermuda Maritime Museum was established, and the Management of Bermuda’s underwater cultural resources was governed by the Wrecks Authority, a body of individuals with strong wreck diving interests. Despite progress integrating divers, archaeologists, and the community on the Sea Venture project, many opinions continued to differ on how the underwater cultural heritage should be managed. The polarization of these opinions was brought to the head of public attention with the establishment of the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute in 1992. The same men who supported the 1959 Act and were active artefact collectors made up the new institute’s Board of Trustees. Many wondered whether the new institute’s artefact collection policy would reflect modern conservation ethics supporting in-situ preservation or whether the committee member’s previous and current policy of active artefact collection would govern policy. This concern was appropriately expressed in the local paper’s editorial: Mr. Lightbourn and other trustees of the BUEI wear three hats. Under one they are BUEI trustees, under another they are members of the Wrecks Authority which licenses divers, and under the third they are the divers themselves to whom they grant licenses under their second hats (“Conflict of interest” 1994). The BUEI adopted a policy whereby artefacts could be loaned or given to the institute for display regardless of the origin as long as they were acquired prior to the establishment of the BUEI in 1992 (BUEI: 4). In this manner, they paid lip service to the International Congress of Maritime Museum’s (ICMM) standards which forbids the acquisition or exhibition of artefacts that have been stolen, illegally exported, salvaged, or commercially mined while allowing artefacts obtained by the committee members’ salvage efforts to be publicly displayed. After all, under the 1959 Act the individual finder owns the artefact, and he or she has the right to sell it, display it, or give it away as he wishes. Importantly if he is allowed to sell it, there is potential to make a profit. Where there’s profit based on salvage, there is destruction and where there is destruction there
will be a loss of underwater cultural heritage for future generations.
demonstrated in December 1999 when artefacts from the San Antonio, an early 17th Century slave vessel wrecked off Bermuda were auctioned on Ebay and sold for just $76. The artefacts, four copper trade ingots, were advertised as “much scarcer than coins and would make an interesting addition to a “shipwreck” display” (Ebay item view). That they were originally part of the Smithsonian’s “Mendel Peterson” collection probably added value to them by associating their collection with a scientific expedition. The seller failed to mention how he had come to acquire them. Artefacts sold through Ebay, Christies, and other auction houses serve to remind archaeologists that they can proselytize all they want but regrettably, the bottom line cannot be ignored. When set against the reality that people tend to value turning a profit above, say, preserving old forts- and almost anything else, for that matter- the proselytizing voice of this archaeologist, anthropologist and historian [Dr. Harris] becomes distinctly thin and lonely” (“Edward versus the Beastly Boys” 1997). It is a fact that the selling of artefacts taken from submerged historic sites for profit is common. Bermuda’s underwater resources, like every other island’s in that region of the world, have been exploited by profit seekers. To archaeologists, it is an unacceptable loss of information and history. To others, it is the unavoidable nature of recovery. On Bermuda, both treasure salvers and archaeologists claim to be doing what is best in the national interest. But just what is best from the Government’s perspective? Without government guidance and official recommendations which state what the national policy is, a free-for-all exists. In such a situation, any group may be capable of convincing the government that their actions are in fact best-for-all. Treasure hunting groups like Treasure Salvors, Inc. and Golden Quest Ltd are much more likely to obtain salvage rights in a country which does not have legislature that supports underwater heritage maritime heritage than in one which does (see Government’s Official Position in chapter seven).
There is a consensus that heritage can be an important economic resource for a small island’s tourist-driven economy. In an increasingly competitive market, heritage has the potential to attract visitors who would not otherwise visit an island destination. As Hume stated in 1988, the importance of Bermuda’s underwater cultural heritage should not be underestimated. “Foreign tourism is Bermuda’s premier industry, and it is fair to claim that the shipwrecks and treasures found by Teddy Tucker and others have done more to foster the Island’s revenue-creating mystique than any other promotional gambit” (Hume 1988). But who are the stewards of Bermuda’s underwater cultural heritage? Are they the divers who actively seek to find and uncover sites or the archaeologists who seek to preserve the UCH in-situ for posterity? Benchley writes, “Bermuda is blessed with a community of divers who are well-versed in history, ship-building, numismatics, and techniques of excavation and preservation. They are the true stewards of Bermuda’s cultural heritage.” (Benchley 1988). But Maritime Museum director Dr. Harris retorts that, “It is a fact that much of the material taken from Bermuda shipwrecks since the 1950s has decayed or been destroyed because it was not conserved. The true stewards of Bermuda’s cultural heritage (Mr. Benchley’s comments in Thursday’s paper) are largely responsible for this loss” (“Accusations fly” 1988). From the perspectives of commerce and tourism…Bermuda’s reefs have been largely fished out3. Few schools of fish, few imposing predators survive to thrill the visiting diver. There is little to lure divers to Bermuda except shipwrecks. And Bermuda’s wrecks are a unique attraction, for on no other islands are so many wrecks so close to shore, so well mapped, so easy to patrol and so diverse historically. A more sensible answer is to open more shipwrecks to tourist divers. For just as familiarity with wild animals breeds not contempt but respect, so more instruction, more education, more knowledge will encourage the uninitiated to cherish the relics of the past (Benchley 73: 1988). Which is more valuable to an island government’s economy: the promised immediate return of millions by a treasure hunter or the long term benefits of a carefully managed irreplaceable resource? Peter Throckmorton asks such a question in, “The World’s Worst Investment: The Economics of Treasure Hunting with Real Life
Thanks to protective measures and the elimination of fish pots, fish are returning to Bermuda.
Comparisons.” In it, he breaks down the perceived and actual economic returns on treasure hunting. He shows that the actual return for investors who put their money on treasure hunting is a pittance. The economic return made from salvaging historic shipwrecks to sell at auction is not only an illusion, but has the potential to damage unexcavated artefact assemblages that have the potential to attract thousands of visitors annually (Throckmorton 1990). He demonstrates that there are long-lasting economic benefits to developing maritime heritage displays and protecting archaeological resources. The success of the Wasa in Stockholm and the Mary Rose in Portsmouth, he believes, should be an example for countries to develop their own maritime displays. Despite claims to the contrary by treasure hunters, warm water can also yield unique and valuable collections. Those uncovered during the excavation of La Belle off the coast of Texas and the Molasses Reef Wreck off the Turks and Caicos are two such examples. Unfortunately, before adequate protection was established several significant wrecks in Bermuda were destroyed in the search for displayable and saleable artefacts. A recent example is The Frenchman admittedly excavated and salvaged by Bermuda’s selfprofessed expert laymen. The lost value to archaeology (and Bermuda) is demonstrated by the excavators’ own descriptions: marveling at seeing clouds of indigo dye released as the excavator “plunges a hand into a mass of indigo unseen since before America’s Revolution” (Benchley 1988). The true lost value will never be truly known. Despite the above description, its excavators claimed “there is nothing special enough about her to claim expensive, exhaustive academic exploration” but the archaeologists rightly pointed out that without proper excavation that was impossible to determine. The site’s integrity had been compromised by the time the first archaeologists learned of the site, and with that integrity, untold amounts of information lost. The treasure divers’ jealous instinct to excavate whole objects quickly before the site was discovered and “worked” by others was incompatible with archaeology’s deliberate process of systematic excavation (Henderson 1992). The enthusiasm and action of Bermuda’s laymen in the past, however well-founded on a genuine curiosity for the past and not on profit was not stewardship. After forty plus years of active stewarding, there is little to show for their efforts. There are no site plans,
artefact inventories, or complete in-tact collections, and the sites themselves have been ravaged to such a degree that much of their integrity has been lost. As Harris points out, when Bermuda’s shipwrecks and historic buildings are destroyed, they will be impossible to replace. All that will remain are parking lots, and people will not travel to Bermuda to see parking lots. A few preserved artefacts will not replace a vanished national resource.
OFFICIAL PERSPECTIVES: CHALLENGES, GOALS, AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS
In addition to combating the local attitudes described in chapter four, small island nations have a number of challenges unique to their size and location. This chapter overviews eight challenges common to small islands which affects how islands manage their underwater cultural resources. The following chapter (six) examines three Caribbean island states: the Turks and Caicos, the Cayman Islands, and Trinidad and Tobago as case studies. These islands have been chosen to represent the larger region as examples of the challenges that are commonly faced and the steps that have been taken to overcome these challenges. Data Sources Interviews with heritage managers on Bermuda including Dr. Edward Harris and Jane Downing and correspondence with Dr. Basil Reid, an archaeologist working on Trinidad and Tobago provided a key data source. Copies of legislation passed by Bermuda, Trinidad and Tobago and the Turks and Caicos were also useful to see similarities and differences. Correspondence with Bob Conrich, a heritage activist retired on Anguilla offered another perspective. Finally, articles by heritage managers working on the islands provided a perspective on the state of underwater cultural heritage “in their own words.” Challenges for the average small island The challenges faced by the average small island in protecting its underwater cultural heritage are considerable but not insurmountable. As discussed in chapters two and three, there are many local and foreign groups with an interest to utilize these resources. While the legislation of larger nations (Australia, United Kingdom, United States of America) is sometimes imitated by small, semi-dependent island countries, there are many limitations to its implementation. The following eight are usually applicable:
1. An Island’s Size and Wealth First, an island’s size must be considered. Although an island’s size does not necessarily reflect its wealth (i.e. Bermuda is a small, yet wealthy island and Trinidad and Tobago is a larger, poorer country), it can reflect the amount of resources potentially available. Bermuda is roughly the size of the Isle of Wight. For its size and population, however, the island has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world ($36,0004 compared to $29,600 in England). On islands with higher levels of poverty and fewer government resources, funding for underwater cultural heritage may be more limited and other government expenditures may take priority. Even on Bermuda and other “wealthy” islands, poverty exists. Rising real estate value on Bermuda has caused an increase in the cost of living and people living in poverty despite full-time employment. Rented accommodation ranges from $2,000 to $4,000 per month for a two-bedroom apartment and transportation costs are 50% higher than in the USA. Food and staples are imported from abroad and underwater heritage must therefore compete with other daily concerns which affect the average quality of life. Other related challenges include small populations and economies, lack of resources, remoteness, susceptibility to natural disasters and climate change, fragility of land and marine ecosystems, high cost of communication, dependence on international trade, and costly public administration and infrastructure (Mulongoy 5: 2006). As a result small island economies are vulnerable. Tourism plays an increasingly vital role in Small Island Developing States’ (SIDS) economies. Beautiful sand beaches and crystal clear water attract tourists from around the world and tourism is currently the leading source of income in the Caribbean (second on Bermuda behind international banking). Over 50% of all jobs in the British Virgin Islands were in the tourist sector six years ago (“Tourism Economic Impact” 2000) and in 2002 tourism contributed to 85% of the islands’ GDP. Tourism’s impact cannot be overestimated and is expected to grow by between three and seven percent annually for the next decade (CEP 1997, ECLAC 2006).
All $ are U.S. Dollars
2. Multiple Interests A second limitation lies in the multiple interests of politicians. Like it or not, advocates to protect an island’s submerged heritage are a small, special interest group. Island governments are faced with a number of larger issues: crime, tropical storm management, utilities, taxation, and tourism are daily, pressing concerns whose importance takes precedence over the management of UCH. An island’s government is preoccupied with the day to day task of surviving in a competitive global economy. Efforts linking tourism and underwater cultural heritage have been made but more needs to be done (Scott-Ireton 2006). Support and pressure from international organizations including the Nature Conservancy and the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) have helped Small Island Developing States (SIDS) realize that protecting their natural resources will benefit their islands economically. The same case needs to be made for archaeological resources. Linking the protection of underwater cultural heritage with larger issues is therefore an important step to ensuring their protection. 3. Lack of Education/Official Interest A related and third issue is the politicians’ lack of interest in or education about the local underwater cultural heritage. Without rudimentary education or outreach, officials in charge remain unaware of the potential historic/cultural resources at their doorstep. By extension, any group claiming to be a legitimate operation that seeks permission to work/excavate in local waters will more likely gain permission to work on an island where officials are unclear/blasé about the distinction between archaeology and treasure salving. A solution would be to have local maritime archaeologists who act in an advisory role to government organizations. Maritime archaeologists can clamour for change but until the government decides how it wishes to manage its maritime cultural resources, their efforts will be in vain. If archaeologists who support underwater cultural heritage do not pressure the government for increased protection, the government will understandably act in the interest of the petitioner who convinces the elected officials that supporting treasure salving is in the island’s national interest.
4. Few Local Maritime Archaeologists Few islands have a maritime archaeologist who lives locally and is actively involved. Those who do, are often overtaxed and extended well beyond their available resources. Bermuda is fortunate in that although the director of the Bermuda Maritime Museum is not specifically a maritime archaeologist, he has taken an equal interest in affairs under the surface as he has with those on land. Until the past year, Bermuda employed not only a full-time maritime archaeologist but also a full-time conservator who specialized in underwater artefacts. Bermuda has also encouraged partnerships with academic institutions including East Carolina University in the United States of America and Bristol University in the United Kingdom. By creating and improving networks between maritime archaeologists living on different islands, as well as supporting links with foreign institutions, it is possible to increase the influence of the current maritime archaeologists in the region and to encourage others to become active locally. 5. Pride in Local Heritage Fifth, in order to support local preservation efforts, an island’s population must be made to feel that it is their history and heritage that is being protected. In a region where that heritage is often a painful reminder of enslavement, relocation, and hardship, it is a delicate task to pay proper respect to two distinct groups of historic haves and have-nots. A recent conference on slave heritage held on the Turks and Caicos in 2004 brought attention to this issue and challenged archaeologists and historians to develop new ways of presenting this heritage. Once that heritage is adopted and supported locally, the protection of archaeological sites becomes a national concern rather than the domain of salvors and archaeologists. 6. Legislation The sixth limitation is the lack of legislation or, as found on Bermuda, ineffective legislation. Chapter seven examines various local legislatures and their role in current heritage management. As the Caribbean lacks a central government, submerged cultural resources are not managed by a single authority but by many local and foreign
governments. The challenge of instituting regional, unilateral protection is therefore daunting. Not only would a detailed understanding of every island’s individual laws be necessary but also experience dealing with the British, French, Spanish, and Dutch home governments be required. Making a coherent piece of legislation incorporating this understanding might be possible and if so, the next challenge would be to convince each and every Island that it would be in their interest to adopt the legislation. There the process would probably falter, as individual government’s unique concerns become apparent. Also, at this point, individuals with an economic incentive to maintain the status quo would attack the legislation at a local level, as happened each time Bermuda attempted to increase its protection. The possibility of creating blanket legislation at present is therefore remote, and better protection must begin locally with locally interested and concerned individuals. Only after brainstorming and communication networks are in place throughout the region, may the underwater heritage be successfully protected on a regional scale. 7. Enforcement Even when effective local legislation is passed, there is often an issue with enforcement. The seventh limitation is therefore enforcement. Islands with small policing forces and extensive reef-line will often claim that it is impossible to police and enforce anti-treasure hunting legislation. Therefore, they argue the passage of any such legislation is useless. It is a familiar, but faulty argument. No law is absolutely enforceable but if it is coupled with education a new law can change attitudes, after which enforcement becomes a secondary issue. Drunk driving legislation in the USA is an example. Coupled with efforts from MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and campaigns for Sober Grad Night in High Schools, the number of associated drunk driving accidents dropped considerably. This was after politicians and pessimists had claimed that changes in the law were not enforceable and would not make a difference. As a result, attitudes have changed to discourage drunk driving and accident figures have dropped. On the other hand, when legislation exists but is not adequately enforced as on Bermuda, existing attitudes are often a factor preventing positive change. On Bermuda,
the 1959 Legislation could have been applied to protect the Islands’ underwater cultural heritage but its governing body (The Wrecks Authority) used the legislation to promote their own interests. Permits which should have been issued to responsible individuals were instead issued to the committee’s own members. It was, according to Dr. Edward Harris, like having a fox guard the henhouse. However, as with drunk driving, a new law coupled with active campaigning has helped change attitudes so that enforcement is no longer a major issue. Local divers act as stewards who report any unusual activity on the reef. 8. Funding An eighth and final limitation discussed here is a lack of funding. Bermuda is fortunate in that unlike other islands there is a potential, large source of funding from the islands’ local inhabitants. Bermudians, as mentioned, are proud of their heritage and often find supporting the work of local archaeologists and projects a self-fulfilling job. A high GDP combined with a local interest and pride in things Bermudian is a boon to archaeology. On islands where the local heritage is an unpleasant reminder of an inequality that continues to exist, heritage managers must find new ways of engaging the public interest in a positive way (see chapter six: Turks and Caicos).
UNDERWATER CULTURAL HERITAGE MANAGEMENT IN PRACTICE: A LOOK AT THE TURKS AND CAICOS, THE CAYMANS, AND TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
Every Island is unique but the limitations discussed here are almost universally applicable. A few islands have excellent laws or individuals dedicated to historic preservation. Others are not so lucky. The following three islands have been chosen because they: a) represent a geographically wide area which will demonstrate shared difficulties, and b) the presence of individuals on the island with experience in underwater cultural heritage who have provided data for this research. The Caribbean is a large area made up of over two dozen countries and territories, each with its own regulatory schemes and laws. This chapter does not attempt a full synthesis of the area but examines three: The Turks and Caicos, the Cayman Islands, and Trinidad and Tobago. The first two of these are British Overseas Territories and the third, an independent state. I have included the latter to illustrate the considerable range of Island types and sizes in the region. Turks and Caicos The Turks and Caicos are a chain of over forty islands, eight of which are inhabited and which are located 575 miles southeast of Miami. Like Bermuda, the islands’ major industries are tourism and off-shore financial banking. The islands’ population is approximately 21,000 and its GDP per person is around $11,500 (CIA figures for 2002). Prior to 1998, Turks and Caicos allowed groups to salvage shipwrecks in their waters; during the 1980s, these included the team of Peter Benchley, Stan Waterman and Teddy Tucker from Bermuda, Nomad Treasure Seekers, and Turks and Caicos Marine and Archaeological Recoveries, Ltd. among others. The government finally became concerned about the potential loss of heritage, when Caribbean Ventures, a treasure salving group, discovered a particularly old site on Molasses Reef , claimed
Figure 9: Map of the Caribbean showing location of three Island case studies
it was the Pinta, and predicted they would make $100 million salvaging it and other treasure bearing ships lying nearby (Keith 2006). Although excavations by INA later showed that it was not Columbus’ ship, it is still thought to be the earliest shipwreck discovered to date in the Western Hemisphere (Leshikar-Denton 286: 2002). Efforts to pass legislature to protect the underwater cultural heritage have been successful and the islands’ resources are protected by the Protection of Historic Wrecks Ordinance passed in 1998. The Turks and Caicos are a British Overseas Territory and although the Historic Wrecks Ordinance is based on the U.K.’s Protection of Wrecks Act, there are several notable differences. The Historic Wrecks Ordinance protects any wreck site more than fifty years old located on the shores or in the territorial waters of the Islands. The governor (as opposed to the secretary of state in the U.K.) may further restrict access to an area surrounding the site; any person committing an offence in the area (including the use of a vacuum hose or explosives) is liable to a summary conviction including a fine of $10,000, a two year imprisonment, or both. Any vessel used is also liable for forfeiture to the Crown (Chapter 82 Protection of Historic Wrecks Ordinance). Hefty penalties are meant to deter individuals who would not be swerved by smaller fines
and to demonstrate to treasure hunters how important these resources are to the island. Currently, two areas have been designated as restricted areas around the main island of Providenciales. Nigel Sadler is the current director of the Turks and Caicos National Museum and president of the Museums Association of the Caribbean (2003-2006). He has made a large effort to educate the public and increase interest in the underwater cultural heritage in the Turks and Caicos, including organizing underwater excavations and regional conferences. The archaeological survey and excavation of the Molasses Reef Shipwreck and the Endymion were the first two wrecks professionally excavated in a region rife with treasure hunting. In 2004 Nigel Sadler helped increase local interest and awareness of slave heritage by organizing a conference and using the wreck of the Trouvadore Slave Ship. The conference’s successful aims included raising “issues of slave heritage including historical findings, challenges in research and presentation of slave heritage and heritage tourism” (SHA Meetings of Interest 2004). The islands also benefited from an excavation by the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M that ran from 1982 until 1986. The Molasses Reef wreck, one of the oldest shipwrecks discovered in the New World was a Spanish vessel from the early 16th century and was excavated and conserved by Texas A&M (using their facilities in Texas). The artefacts were then returned to the Turks and Caicos in 1990 where they are permanently displayed at the Turks and Caicos National Museum (Keith 1988: 62; 2006: 84). The Turks and Caicos provide a successful example of an island that has overcome challenges with treasure hunters and continues to work at effective underwater heritage management. Although Nigel Sandler is expected to resign this year, there are plans to open a new museum site on Providenciales and hire a replacement director. Providenciales was chosen as over 90% of tourists land on the island and the island is served by direct and non-stop air service from New York, Miami, Boston, Charlotte, Philadelphia, Toronto, London, Montego Bay, Nassau, Inagua, Puerto Plata, Cap Haitien, and Santiago.
Cayman Islands Moving west of the Turks and Caicos, on the other side of Cuba, are the Cayman Islands. Approximately half the size of the Turks and Caicos, the islands’ population is around 45,000 with the average GDP per person an astonishing $32,000. Like Bermuda, the inhabitants enjoy a high standard of living. There is no direct taxation and the islands are a haven for off-shore banking. In 1998 more than 40,000 companies were registered in the islands. Tourism is important and accounts for approximately 70% of the national GDP. Recreational diving is also popular; over forty dive operators have facilities to cater to over 1,800 divers per day (http://www.caymanvacations.com). Hundreds of cruise ships visit the island annually, bringing over a million visitors each year, many of which come specifically to enjoy the islands’ water sports. Balancing the benefits of increased tourism with protecting the physical remains of the islands’ cultural heritage is a delicate yet vital necessity (Scott-Ireton 2006). Dr. Margaret “Peggy” Leshikar-Denton has written that despite lingering problems with treasure-hunters, the Cayman Islands are “experimenting with the notion that there is more long-term value, profit, and public benefit in heritage protection, management, and interpretation” (Leshikar-Denton 2006: 23). has played a key role in creating heritage management initiatives. Efforts to catalogue the Cayman Islands’ submerged maritime resources began in 1979 and 1980 with a survey by the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M. INA chose the Caymans for their first archaeological research in the Caribbean “because they believed the survey might provide an example to other West Indian nations of how scientific scrutiny, rather than the hunt for treasure, can bring aspects of national heritage to light” (Leshikar-Denton 2002: 284). The islands’ maritime history was further investigated during the archaeological and historical research of the Ten Sail Wreck between 1991 and 1993 under the auspices of the Cayman Islands National Museum (Leshikar-Denton 1992; 1993; 1994). In addition to published reports, a database of over 130 recorded wrecks and wrecking events has been compiled. Politically, preserving the underwater cultural heritage on the Cayman’s is supported by the government despite ineffective legislature. The Abandoned Wreck Law The Cayman Islands National Museum established 1990, like the Bermuda Maritime Museum on Bermuda,
of 1966 which was revised in 1997 provides blanket protection for shipwrecks more than fifty years old. However, it was created to ensure that the government received a portion of the value of the wreck and guarantees the salvor at least one-half its value. It also fails to recognize shipwrecks as cultural property. Fortunately, its faults have been recognized by the government which has not (to date) entered into any agreements with treasure hunters (Leshikar-Denton 2006: 24). This is due to a great extent on efforts by heritage managers like Leshikar-Denton. A partnership between the National Museum, the Department of Education, and the Archive and Trust has worked to integrate UCH with recreational tourism and education. A new initiative started by Della Scott-Ireton as part of her doctoral thesis, the Maritime Heritage Trail is designed to encourage “a sense of national pride in existing maritime heritage resources” (Leshikar-Denton 2006: 24). Its proponents believe that it can serve as “a model for the interpretation and protection of maritime cultural resources in other Caribbean nations.” Like Bermuda, the island is currently emphasizing the importance of in-situ preservation and there are, at present, no active excavations. Scott-Ireton believes that, A museological approach to public access and interpretation of in situ resources will help to create a heritage tourism attraction that effectively interprets maritime resources for the public, increases the perceived value of the resource, and promotes the continued preservation of the resource (Scott-Ireton 2005). Unlike heritage trails in Florida, the Cayman Islands trail follows the coast and is accessible to non-divers. Submerged points of interest are incorporated using a number of terrestrial vantage points marked with signs. The Cayman Islands provide a good example how steps towards preservation can be made without strict preservation laws by using public concern and intervention. Trinidad and Tobago At the South-east corner of the Caribbean, next to South America lies Trinidad and Tobago. At twenty times the size of the Cayman Islands and ten times the size of the Turks and Caicos, Trinidad and Tobago is one of the larger Caribbean island states. The
Islands are densely populated with over one million inhabitants (August 2006 estimate). Unlike the Caymans and the Turks and Caicos which are both British Overseas Territories (like Bermuda), Trinidad and Tobago is an independent state. The islands are the Caribbean’s leading producer of gas and oil, with tourism an important but not exclusive income. The average GDP per person in 2005 was about $16,000. Although English is the official language, Hindi, French, Spanish, and Chinese are also prevalent. With a growing population, deforestation is a major concern as is a recent increase in violent crimes (CIA factbook). Such multiple concerns mean that the UCH must compete against other interests for funding and attention. Despite its size, information on the Islands’ UCR is limited. In 2001, the Department of History at the University of the West Indies on Trinidad hired a full-time archaeologist for the first time in thirteen years. Legislation to protect the archaeological heritage has been created in retrospect, after wide-scale pillaging. In 1990, during the dredging of Scarborough Harbour to expand the port, an undisclosed number of artefacts including coins, jewelry and cutlery were salvaged from the hulls of several 17th century Dutch and French vessels. The artefacts were pocketed by the divers working on the project and never reported (Hernandez curator of Tobago Museum). The first law passed in 1992 declared Scarborough Harbour a Restricted Area and in 1994, the Bill for Historic Wreck was passed. Three years later a committee was formed to handle applications to excavate and study historic wreck. Unfortunately, according to local archaeologists, these restrictions are not enough (Broadbridge 2000). In type, Trinidad and Tobago’s laws are based on American and British examples. Like the 1973 Protection of Wrecks Act in the UK, Trinidad and Tobago law is based on a process of designation rather than blanket protection. Further, the government lacks the resources or interest to adequately patrol the islands’ large coastline. Begun in 1999, the Scarborough Harbour Project on Trinidad and Tobago typifies efforts to protect the islands’ submerged heritage. This project (an archaeological survey and expedition to assess the potential resources in the harbour and on the island) has experienced a number of setbacks including but not limited to irregular and insufficient funding, sponsorship withdrawal as a result of misinformation published locally, and a
lack of adequate facilities. As carefully crafted budgets and schedules ran from a tight two-year operation into a decade of effort and work, its managers struggled to find the resources to meet planned objectives. The absence of local heritage managers meant that in an effort to keep the project’s reputation untarnished, all efforts had to be coordinated with overseas institutions with impeccable records and no connection to treasure hunters such as the Mary Rose Trust, the Nautical Archaeology Society, or the Institute of Nautical Archaeology. Most significantly, Trinidad and Tobago lacks a successful outreach program to educate the public and visitors on the islands’ UCH. According to one report, “small attention and no funds” were allowed for informing people on the nature and benefits of the Scarborough Harbour Project. Slide shows by visiting staff of the Mary Rose Trust in February 2000 and a workshop by the NAS were both poorly attended as insufficient preparation and notice were given to the public. Synthesis: Accomplishments and Future Goals These examples do not simply illustrate a case of two successful islands and one unsuccessful island. A closer examination reveals weaknesses and strengths unique to each island. Why have the Turks and Caicos succeeded at passing legislation while the Caymans have failed? Why have carefully crafted plans on Trinidad and Tobago come to grief? My research on Bermuda has taught me that there is always more happening than initially meets the eye. Negotiating local politics and strong personalities is a delicate and integral part of underwater heritage management on a small island. Not every heritage manager and archaeologist has the skills and experience necessary to do so successfully. Every step forward is therefore significant and every failure worthy of examination. The Caribbean, its people, and its archaeological resources are diverse. The challenges listed above are illustrative and not exclusive of the many challenges islands face. That these challenges can be overcome, however, is proven by the steps taken by Bermuda and the current state of underwater archaeology on that island. Like the Turks and Caicos, Caymans, and Trinidad and Tobago, Bermuda experimented with ineffective legislature. Bermuda has also dealt with elected officials’ ignorance of modern management strategies and greed with associated misguided attitudes to recovered
material, an absence of local underwater archaeologists, and an established group of local and influential treasure hunters. Bringing together bits of information on the underwater heritage of the area has been more challenging than I anticipated. The internet has proved to be less than ideal and I have needed to rely more on personal correspondences. My experience has been a small sample of the real challenges faced by those heritage managers working on the islands discussed. The future goal must be greater inter-territorial communication. Workshops and conferences have taken place on each of the islands discussed but more effort must be taken to disseminate that information to the interested public. If as a student charged with discovering the recent state of affairs on these islands I am faced with these challenges, how much more difficult is it for the public!
A CONSENSUS FOR CHANGE: ATTITUDES AND PROGRESS: FOUR RECOGNIZED AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT IN UNDERWATER HERITAGE MANAGEMENT
The island nations of the Caribbean Sea are among the world’s top sport diving destinations, offering clear, warm water and a variety of colorful and interesting natural and cultural maritime resources. Recognizing the need for protection of marine resources in order to sustain tourism, several islands have enacted laws and regulations for the benefit of protecting natural resources such as fish species and coral reefs. Cultural resources, however, still are relatively unprotected and are not promoted, except as artificial reefs for marine life. A few islands are in the vanguard of submerged cultural resource management including promoting public education and access but unfortunately many lag behind (Scott-Ireton 2005: 65). Areas for improved management of underwater heritage include: 1) community involvement and public education, 2) heritage tourism as a part of sustainable tourist development, 3) improved inter-territorial communication (i.e. conferences), and 4) the need for governments to adopt an official position. This chapter provides a concluding section that analyzes the similarities between the underwater heritage of the Caribbean and Bermuda, shared difficulties, and the steps that might be taken by islands individually and co-operatively for the improved management of underwater cultural heritage. 1. Community Involvement: Changing local attitudes through Public Education The growth and success of initiatives to protect the underwater cultural heritage depends on community involvement where there is a dialogue between professional archaeologists and the public. This dialogue may exist in the form of printed or electronic media including pamphlets, brochures, documentaries, site markers, or interpretive literature. Regardless of the format, it is crucial that information is disseminated to the
public and put in a format that is both educational and engaging. In her dissertation on the Maritime Cultural Resource Management of Preserves, Parks, and Trails, Della ScottIreton observed that of twenty-four preserve, park, and trail programs she studied, seventeen included some level of community participation. She writes on the importance of this involvement: “In the face of the failure of legislation alone to protect cultural resources, public education and outreach programs appear to be the most effective tools available to managers” (Scott-Ireton 2005: 75). That education is needed is further demonstrated by many recreational divers’ lingering disrespect towards submerged artefacts, an attitude that can be corrected through proper education (and not, as was suggested to me, by letting the older generations die off in time). The NAS Training Scheme developed in 1986 by the Nautical Archaeology Society is a direct consequence to acknowledging the need to educate divers at a grass-roots level. The scheme teaches recreational divers the facts of underwater archaeology and works to correct false beliefs including the wrong opinion that artefacts left in salt water will decay and be lost forever unless they are recovered. Divers get their information from a variety of sources. Practicing archaeologists who are supported by treasure salving groups, treasure salvors, and glossy spreads in National Geographic and Time which focus on the physical recovery of objects often misrepresent the true nature of archaeology. Scavenging divers often cite the Titanic and other ironhulled vessels as examples, pointing out that these wrecks will soon be gone due to the corrosive properties of sea water on iron. Unlike seashells which divers have been taught are part of a natural ecosystem, many divers feel that shipwrecked vessels are an unnatural part of the environment; they will disintegrate unless they are recovered and their only function is to serve as an “artificial” reef for sea life. Recovering artefacts is therefore considered a good thing because by recovering artefacts you are “saving” them from a hostile environment where they do not belong and would naturally disintegrate and be lost forever. This damaging attitude is being challenged, however, by the world’s major Scuba certification agencies. Project Aware’s “Protect Our Wrecks” initiative is a multi-agency effort begun in 2001 that urges divers to consider the following:
Respect the heritage and loss [of life], respect the environment…and respect the history and archaeology. If a wreck or an object of historical importance is located, divers are reminded to leave it where it lies, mark its position and seek advice from local government authorities (Nimb 2003). Project AWARE Foundation supports the UNESCO’s Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Resources. The major diver certification agencies support the foundation and offer recommendations to their divers. BSAC (British Sub-Aqua Club) tells its divers to “Avoid the temptation to take souvenirs…do not dive on a designated protected site, and do not lift anything that appears to be of historic interest” (BSAC Technical Publications 2002). 2) Integrating Cultural Heritage Tourism with Sustainable Development The Caribbean has an immense cultural and natural heritage due to a particular historical development and to specific geographical and climatic conditions… Notwithstanding, these values are threatened due to their fragility, economic conditions, recurrent natural disasters, and in many cases, by a lack of understanding of the heritage as an asset in the sustainable development process (The Dominica Document 2001). Heritage tourism, one of the fastest growing segments of the travel industry, responds to public education and outreach. As more people become interested in viewing underwater cultural resources, managers must ensure that increased traffic does not damage or adversely impact this fragile resource (Boniface and Fowler 1993). Managers are confronted with the task of managing a resource that in many cases belongs to the public. To increase awareness of this resource and to encourage public participation more people must be made aware of submerged culture in a way that fosters conservation rather than consumption. Just as tourists visiting the Florida Everglades a hundred years ago were encouraged to take pot shots at birds and gators but are now taught the principals of conservation through native gator farms, divers who once broke off bits of living coral as a souvenir are now taught to “take only pictures, leave only bubbles.” Heritage tourism is often integrated with cultural tourism to promote and increase tourism in an area. Cultural heritage tourism is simply traveling to experience activities and sites that “authentically represent the stories and people of the past and present” and
include cultural, natural, and historic resources that are irreplaceable (Cultural Heritage Fact Sheet National Trust 2005). Heritage tourism, when unsuccessfully managed, creates a number of problems including pressuring and threatening the very resources which sustain it (Newsweek July 2002). For example, the International Association for Caribbean Archaeologists (IACA) reported in 2005, that several important cave sites including La Cueva de las Maravillas and Las Cuevas de Borbon in the Dominican Republic were destroyed in preparation for public visitation. No proper archaeological research was done prior to the development and archaeological deposits on the cave floor were destroyed without study or salvage during construction (IACA Minutes). Balancing public access without compromising conservation aims is therefore crucial. Cultural heritage…has considerable impact in many areas of economic and regional development, sustainable tourism, job creation, improving skills through technological innovation, environment, social identity, education, and construction (The London Declaration, 2004). Heritage and culture amenities including museums, festivals, concerts, and archaeological sites are advertised to tourists as day or weekend excursions. As a supplement to white sand beaches and crystal clear waters, local heritage is marketed to extend a tourist’s visit by a few hours to a couple of days. Cultural heritage tourism is part of a larger business that puts demands on an island’s infrastructure including its roads, public services, water supplies, and airports. Its greatest challenge is to attract visitors without destroying the historic, cultural, and natural resources responsible for attracting visitors in the first place. When successful, cultural heritage tourism preserves and protects these resources. It focuses on quality and authenticity and makes a site or program come alive for the visitor. It successfully integrates the local community’s needs and collaborates with locals rather than alienating them from visiting tourists. Recent efforts on Bermuda in increase cultural heritage tourism include increased marketing of the Bermuda Maritime Museum. Showcasing the islands’ history through a number of exhibits, the maritime museum is housed inside the fortress Keep of the old Royal Naval Dockyard and is toted in brochures as “the major attraction in the western parishes.” Since its opening the museum has attracted over one million visitors and serves to educate both tourists and visiting scholars on Bermuda’s unique and finite
resources. In addition, Bermuda is hosting the Global African Diaspora Conference in October 2006, a conference to create a Diaspora Heritage Trail linking Bermuda, Africa, and the Caribbean in a unified cross-cultural trail. The mission statement of the trail is to “identify places and phenomena relevant to the global presence and influences of people and culture of African descent and to develop mechanisms to promote and facilitate informed and socially conscious travel to these sites including enhancement of the quality of life of host country communities” (ADHT Mission Statement). On Turks and Caicos, Hitesh Mehta has helped develop a master plan for sustainable development, “An Integrated Approach to Protecting Heritage through Sustainable Tourism Planning” in 2002. In 2004, the Turks and Caicos Hotel and Tourism Association (TCHTA) agreed to support the National Museum’s archaeological work on the Trouvadore, a 19th Century slave ship wrecked off the islands in 1841. TCHTA President and Managing Director Gary Greenwood explained, Heritage and cultural tourism is of great importance to sustainable development. The Association and our members are doing everything we can to assist the Turks and Caicos National Museum to preserve and present the unique history of the Turks and Caicos Islands and this wonderful story of shipwreck, survival and freedom (Miller 2004). The Cayman Islanders have also recognized the importance of sustainable heritage and cultural tourism. They have embraced “nature tourism” as a way to preserve the marketability of their island for the future. The Cayman’s National Trust was established with responsibility to: a) preserve the natural, historic, and maritime heritage of the Cayman Islands, b) conserve lands, natural features, and submarine areas of beauty, historic, or environmental importance, and c) protect native flora and fauna (Cayman National Trust). 3) Improved Inter-territorial Communication There has not been, up to now, any widely applicable international legal instrument for preservation of the underwater cultural heritage. The absence of clear regulations raises a problem for divers, archaeologists and legal experts who seek to exploit, enhance and protect this heritage (UNESCO 2004).
The need for improved communication between Caribbean Islands has long been recognized. Despite small success at political and economic integration through the efforts of international organizations like the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) and the Caribbean Unity Foundation (CUF), there is little hope of full integration in the near future. Such integration, were it to occur, would greatly benefit the management of maritime historical resources, as it would provide a single government and organization to oversee the region rather than the multitude of small governments which exist at present. In the meantime, despite political and economic fragmentation in the region, heritage managers have found a common voice through the Museums Association of the Caribbean (MAC), the International Congress of Maritime Museums (ICMM), the International Association for Caribbean Archaeology (IACA), the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), the Dominica UNESCO Heritage Organization (DUHO), and other organizations. MAC provides a forum for discussion and it members include not only museums but also individuals, tourist boards, and historical societies interested in the history of the Caribbean. Islands with a shared socio-economic history including the Turks and Caicos, Bermuda, and the Bahamas are also included despite their geographic location outside the Caribbean basin. Each year MAC brings together professionals from throughout the region and hosts a conference. In 1995, the Cayman Islands National museum spearheaded an effort to increase regional awareness in protecting the Caribbean’s underwater heritage sites. At the 1995 MAC meeting, each participant in a workshop, “Protecting Archaeological Sites Underwater: Tools for the Caribbean” received a reference notebook on the current state of underwater heritage around the world. A network of information exchange was established among IACA, MAC, and the Caribbean Conservation Association (Leshikar-Denton 2002: 285) which continues today. Such efforts may be the basis for greater integration, communication, and co-operation in the future. In 2004, in collaboration with IACA, an annual conference was held on St. Lucia and papers were presented on the theme “Our Heritage, Preserve and Present It.” Since its foundation in 1961 “nearly every Caribbeanist, whether professional, amateur or
student, Caribbean or international, has belonged or still belongs to the Association” (Association’s statement). Currently the IACA holds conferences and publishes both a biannual newsletter and a directory of Caribbean Archaeologists. ICMM is an international professional association that many of the Caribbean Museums belong to. The organization is “a guild of colleagues and friends dedicated to maintaining world-wide professional contacts, providing a forum for the free exchange of ideas, improving the quality and standards of maritime preservation and nautical archaeology, and fostering a network of friendship and mutual support” (ICMM statement). Its conferences range in venue from New Zealand to Malta. UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, provides the glue which holds these associations together. As a group, they follow the guidelines laid down in the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage and the Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage, both held in 2001. Recognizing the need for improved inter-territorial communication, the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural Heritage and Natural Heritage aimed to provide a forum for networking and collaboration between NGOs, experts from the Caribbean and States Parties. The Dominica Document, supported by the participants of the Regional Training Course on the Application of the World Heritage Convention and its Role in Sustainable Development and Tourism in the Caribbean declared that: 1) Every government and regional NGO partner in the Caribbean needs to take urgent, systematic action in a coordinated manner. 2) Preservation and conservation of Caribbean heritage should be examined as a matter of priority at government levels (CARICOM, Association of Caribbean States, etc) 3) Urgent action should be taken to integrate the preservation of heritage in national policies and development strategies 4) Legislation should be reviewed, revised, and more fully applied to give heritage a role in contemporary society 5) Systematic sub-regional training programmes with a Caribbean focus integrating heritage protection, management and tourism should be initiated by the Caribbean counties utilizing new technologies for better dissemination of information at a regional level with the assistance of UNESCO, MAC, IACA, and other entities (World Heritage Committee 2001)
The Dominica Document has resulted in several islands pursuing and achieving World Heritage status for individual sites. The World Heritage Committee gives particular attention to the Caribbean as despite its wealth of cultural and historic heritage, it is one of the most under-represented sub-regions in the World Heritage List. Two cultural landscapes, the Viñales Valley and the archaeological landscape of Cuba’s first coffee plantation are inscribed as World Heritage sites but many more might be proposed. Currently, the historic town of St. George on Bermuda is the only World Heritage Site on the islands discussed in this paper. Although UNESCO and the organizations described provide a way for some inter-territorial communication between archaeologists located on different islands, many small islands do not have a heritage manager or archaeologist on-site. The state of affairs on these islands is unregulated and there are no professional guidelines to govern activities. At the very least, governments need to recognize this void and adopt some form of official policy that will inform the decision-making process. 4) Government’s Official Position Until a country formalizes its position, it is open to discussion from groups (local and foreign) who claim to be acting in everyone’s best interest. For example, one such group claims, Every old wreck is no more of historical value than every old car in a junkyard is a Duesenberg. Each one must be judged individually, and Bermuda’s expert laymen are eminently qualified judges (Benchley 73: 1988). while another asserts that all these wrecks are of historical and educational importance. They are being destroyed by both the unchecked collecting of sports divers and by the licensed stripping of salvors working for personal gain” (Harris 1990). Without government support through existing legislature and, in order for a site to be protected, the wheel must be reinvented every time a state receives a petition by treasure hunters to salvage a site.
Every time some looter or plunderer applies to one of the British Overseas Territory governments to carry away the treasure of the Indies there is a major crisis. The wheel must be invented all over again and attempts made to educate elected officials whose natural-born greed has been re-ignited by these neo-pirates of the Caribbean (Conrich 2006). Elected officials must be educated to understand the benefits of protecting underwater cultural heritage resources. This can be a challenge on some islands; For example, on Trinidad and Tobago various government agencies and authorities each play a single role in the management of resources and no one exercises direct authority. Within the state there are several small bureaucracies which are each responsible for handling a single aspect of the cultural heritage. These groups’ responsibilities range from managing a single collection to granting land development rights. The Tobago Trust is appointed by the Tobago House of Assembly; the Tobago Museum is an institution of the Trust. The Division of Community Development and Culture develops the arts and cultural heritage for the government, the Division of Tourism manages monuments, building and historical sites, the Regional Library is responsible for archives, and the Town and Country Planning Division is responsible for granting permission for development. In addition to these, maritime cultural heritage may also fall under the jurisdiction of the fisheries department and Department of Economy, a layover from when wrecking was a major industry (Hernandez 2001). This fragmentation of management often results in one or more parts being excluded from the process. Compounding the situation in the British Overseas Territories is a lack of guidance from London. Officially, no local law pertaining to underwater heritage management supersedes British Law. Consequently, in theory the Protection of Wrecks Act (1973) and other relevant UK legislation could be applied on a case by case basis. However, the UK has yet to become involved in any case overseas and even if it were to, it is unclear how the UK’s other lenient policies towards treasure salvage would benefit the islands.
This dissertation’s initial aim was to use Bermuda as a case study to determine whether a holistic approach to managing the Caribbean regions’ underwater cultural heritage was feasible. Not only has research demonstrated the degree to which this is possible, but it has also identified those key factors that if properly developed, will increase protection. In conclusion what is needed is a combination of local, home-grown efforts and official guidance. On the ground, work needs to be done to correct attitudes and foster enthusiasm and respect for the region’s underwater cultural heritage. A greater number of dedicated and qualified individuals are needed to carry on old projects and initiate new programs. On an official level, governments need to assume responsibility for the Cultural underwater heritage and decide what official position should be adopted.
heritage needs to be more completely integrated into government departments and communication between archaeologists and other groups must be improved. Improved communication and co-operation (not only between archaeologists but also between interested stakeholders) will in turn lead to increased inter-territorial collaboration for better protection throughout the Caribbean. This supporting infrastructure will pave the way for blanket legislature. This cannot happen, however, until individual islands assume responsibility for managing their underwater cultural heritage and qualified individuals are in place. Only then can a successful effort be made to integrate islands on a regional scale. Ultimately, archaeologists’ responsibility lies in communicating their goals and aims with officials in charge who have the power to change official policies. Dr. Edward Harris writes, “It is for the Government to decide what the future will be for these important remains of our past” (Harris 1988). Archaeologists have the power to convince the government that improving protection of the underwater cultural resources is not only necessary from an archaeological viewpoint but also beneficial from a sustainable development perspective. The Joint Nautical Archaeology Policy Committee (JNAPC) in England provides a successful example of how such an action group can successfully petition authorities for
Not only does the JNAPC campaign for greater education on the
importance of our nautical heritage but it also seeks to improve funding for the discipline and disseminate information through publications including “Heritage at Sea” (1989) and “Heritage Law at Sea Proposals for Change” (2000) among others. Although the process of enacting change can be long an arduous as on Bermuda, success can also occur quickly. A project carried out jointly by the NAS and the Uruguayan Heritage Commission successfully demonstrated to that government and public that there was a better option available than having the navy license treasure hunters. In 2006, Uruguay’s parliament passed a law banning treasure hunting. base of material to win the debate. Since the 2001 Convention on the Protection of Underwater Heritage, eight countries have ratified it including Panama (May 2003), Bulgaria (October 2003), Croatia (December 2004), Spain (June 2005), Libya (June 2005), Nigeria (October 2005), Portugal (April 2006), and most recently, Mexico (June 2006). This ongoing progress demonstrates that countries outside the Caribbean are also serious about creating blanket protection and international legislation is a future possibility. At present, a holistic approach is possible on a level where information is exchanged and networks between archaeologists and heritage managers between islands are improved. A holistic approach to legal protection and blanket legislation in the Caribbean is not possible at this time due to the factors identified. Most importantly my experience on Bermuda taught me that each island is unique. An assessment on the current state of affairs needs to be carried out on each and every island as individual politics and personalities are unique. For blanket legislation to be possible in the future, the community must become involved, engaged and willing to support change. Public education and dissemination of information is vital. Finally, just as many archaeologists believe that maritime archaeology needs to be more fully integrated with mainstream (terrestrial) archaeology, I believe underwater cultural heritage needs to be better incorporated into cultural heritage and heritage tourism initiatives. Integration will not only take underwater cultural heritage out of the domain While the archaeologists’ collaborative efforts were not the sole factor in instigating change, their work provided a
of a specialist academic subfield and into the mainstream but will also give governments the chance to see its wider applicability and the benefits of long-term management. This dissertation has shown that it is possible to use a single island to represent a larger region. Research has shown that by identifying local challenges and obstacles that an island has overcome, that example can be used and applied with care to a larger region. The next step, then, is to fully document the state of affairs on each island throughout the region and recognize those islands where change is most desperately needed, based on the absence of ingredients present on islands where heritage management is more fully developed. The current infrastructure of maritime heritage managers, archaeologists, and interested individuals in the islands will then allow international pressure to be applied to those islands to encourage those factors to be developed. Once those factors are developed on each island, holistic legislative protection will be possible.
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