Culture and heritage

Maritime heritage

Excavating maritime archaeological sites

Excavation & archaeological relics

Relics are typically foundresting in a stable environment, with little or no oxygen, little or no light and low, constanttemperatures. Removal of the relic into a warm, dry, oxygen rich environment can have catastrophic effects on both organic and inorganic relics.Relics removed from underwater sites are particularly vulnerable to corrosion, biological attack, warpng or simply crumbling away to nothing!

Excavating any archaeological site therefore requires a high level of training and knowledge. It requires supervision by specialist archaeologists and conservators.

Any person or group wishing to excavate anywhere in NSW to discover a relic or investigate a site must apply for an excavation permit through the Heritage Branch. For sites that are subject to the NSW Heritage Act 1977, the application will be considered by the NSW Heritage Council.

For sites subject to the Commonwealth Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976 the application will be considered by the Director of the Heritage Branch as the State Delegate for that Act.

The excavation director must have professional qualifications and experience in maritime archaeology.

Once a site is excavated it is irretrievably altered. In order to protect our heritage, stringent requirements must be met before a permit will be issued. These requirements ensure that the site fulfils its potential to contribute to our knowledge of the past and that information is not lost unnecessarily.


Page last updated: 31 August 2012