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Management of the Underwater Cultural Heritage in situ

This unique course, which takes place in Florence, Italy, will give you the opportunity to gain an understanding of the principles behind the degradation and preservation of underwater cultural heritage. The course is taught in association with the IVALSA (trees and timber) Institute of the National Research Council of Italy. The IVALSA is a world-leading organisation for scientific and technical exchanges, a professional key player in the study of wood.

With climate change affecting the water characteristics and potentially the preservation of archaeology in the marine environment, it is imperative to have an understanding of the degradation processes involved and what can be done to mitigate the heritage degradation in the short and medium term.

Key information

Next start date:

26 May 2015


Florence, Italy


2 or 5 days


Trees and Timber Institute of the National Research Council of Italy.

Entry requirements:

This course is open to anyone with a relevant undergraduate degree. Alternatively, non-graduates and professionals with significant and relevant work experience, who can also demonstrate an ability to both complete and benefit from the course will be considered.

Course details

This course has been designed to give you an understanding of the challenges and techniques involved with the preservation of underwater cultural heritage.

After completing this course you will demonstrate a knowledge of basic environmental principles surrounding underwater cultural heritage and the principles behind the preservation of archaeological remains in the marine environment.

Physical, chemical and biological aspects will be studied to understand the degradation of wooden objects which were found in the marine / waterlogged environment, such as ships or small artefacts.

You'll cover a variety of topics throughout this course, including threats to underwater archaeological heritage, techniques used for in situ protection, wood & conservation, the principles of wood anatomy and physical characteristics of waterlogged archaeological wood.

General timetable

  • Each day will start at 9am and finish at approximately 5pm with lunch and coffee breaks during the day.


  • Registration and introduction
  • Why in situ protection?
  • Threats to underwater archaeological heritage
  • Case studies
  • Closing remarks (Part 1).


  • Field trip to the excavation of the Pisa shipwrecks.

Please note: the field trip for this course is land based only and does not involve any diving.


  • Wood and waterlogged archaeological wood
  • Macro biology
  • Principles of wood anatomy and physical characteristics
  • Practical exercise: wood analysis I.


  • Chemistry of wood
  • Chemistry of waterlogged archaeological wood
  • Case studies, excavations and research about state of conservation
  • Practical exercise: wood analysis II.

Saturday & Sunday

  • Leisure days in Florence.


  • Wood diagnosis and conservation
  • Practical
  • Closing remarks.

Two day course

The two day course will include a field trip to the excavation of the Pisa shipwrecks and is for those who have a moderate academic interest and background.

Five day course

The five day course is tailored to those who wish to learn about the science which impacts on the degradation and preservation of archaeological remains in the marine environment.

Please note there is an additional administration fee of £200 if you wish to be assessed for Masters credits on this course. All attendees are eligible for a certificate of attendance.

Fees and funding

2 days = £240 
5 days = £600

10% early bird and 10% alumni discounts available

Note: Short course fees include daily refreshments and lunch.

How to apply

If you have any further questions about the course, please email Norman Stock or call him on 01202 965575. 

​Alternatively, please contact our askBU Enquiry Service for more information.

Additional information