Italy, with over 700km of coastline and a central position within the Mediterranean basin, conserves within its waters a vast underwater archaeological heritage, testimony of the fundamental role it has played at the crossroads of travel over the course of centuries which has connected the East and the West and the three continents which boarder the sea. Over the past twenty years, the improvement in diving equipment and techniques has led in an increase in the numbers of recreational divers, as well as the increased depths which can now be reached, therefore making sites more accessible and increasing the risk to this heritage. In order to tackle this problem, the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, in accordance with the UNESCO Paris Convention, which has established regulations and laws for the protection and development of the maritime heritage, in 2004 started the Archeomar Project. The project aims to create a register of all the underwater archaeological sites along the coastlines of the regions of Italy, which today has now covered Calabria, Puglia, Basilicata, Campania, Lazio and Tuscany.
The result of this research is an archaeological map of the Italian seas, created with the awareness that the cataloguing and the knowledge of what is still preserved on the seabed represent the only instrument for the correct management and safeguard of the submerged heritage.
The application of oceanographic technology and the development of instruments and methodologies specific for modern underwater archaeology, gained over the course of the project, today form the means through which it will be possible to safeguard for the future this extraordinary heritage.