Artifact Recovery & Conservation: The Science of Preserving Our Past

The most challenging, complex and costly aspect of finding ancient shipwrecks and their artifacts is the amount of time and effort required to actually recover them properly and record and stabilize the items found on them. This involves massive amounts of planning, and many different skilled disciplines. The artifact stabilization process alone can take several years for a single item. The process of analyzing a recovered artifact is very dependent upon good conservation and recording techniques being used throughout the recovery effort. Thus, good archeology depends upon good conservation practices and standards, and good professional wreck recoveries depend upon both.
Our archeologists and conservators work alongside the divers and crew members and direct them throughout the recovery process in order to insure this proper handling and this advance knowledge and skill base is made available to the entire operations. Because we are recovering history and not simply monetary "treasure" there is greater emphasis and value placed on maintaining provenance in the recovery process today. Today's professional shipwreck recovery specialists understand that maintaining provenance preserves the intrinsic value as well as the historic value.
We believe that shipwreck recoveries can and should be both profitable for science and for business. It seems a common sense solution to a daunting problem. Archeology can't afford to become part of the tax burden of any country. This is the fiscal dilemma of artifact recovery today. In fact, this is not a new concept - it was the private explorer who funded and organized their own expeditions- which founded some of our greatest historical collections around the world today.
Since our goal is to recover and display many of our underwater finds publicly, we believe it is essential that all the items we recover are properly handled, recorded, stabilized and conserved to the highest standards available.
We also believe that wreck sites containing 'treasure' cargo, can and should be recovered and the ore specie sold or otherwise liquidated to help defray the costs of recovering less materially valuable but more historically worthwhile shipwrecks and sites.
It would take thousands of dedicated lifetimes to recover a fraction of what artifacts lie lost beneath our oceans. The common sense solution is obvious. Archeology and commercial recovery interests can and should work together to preserve their common goal. Historical comprehension depends upon this necessary cooperative partnership between the public good and the initiative of private enterprise. We cannot deny the human spirits' need to explore and discover.




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