Today marks the start of the Vietnam Maritime Archaeology Project (VMAP), taking place in the historic city of Hoi-An. The project is an attempt at promoting the Vietnamese (maritime) cultural heritage among not just the Vietnamese population itself but across all of the participating countries. With about 30 participants from all over the world this truly is an international project. However, promoting Vietnamese heritage is not the only goal of this project. It also aims to train a new generation of (mostly young) students for a possible future as maritime archaeologists.
After most of the participants of this project had become acquainted with one another, the group was split up into two smaller groups. The first (and largest) group consisted of participants that already possessed a valid diving certificate. The second group consisted of trainees that would spend their first week training to become a certified PADI open water diver.
The first group started their day off with a sightseeing tour of Hoi-An. During this tour they were shown the rich cultural heritage of the city, as well as its museums, restaurants, and other places of interest which could be useful during their time in this city. After this tour ended, the project was officially opened in one of the most impressive museums of Hoi-An with a speech by Mark Staniforth, the project leader. The opening of the project was of course followed by a group picture of all the participants that were present.
After the opening ceremony and lunch, the group went back to the hotel swimming pool to undergo a mandatory diving check-up under the watchful eye of Sri-Lankan diver Rasika. Check-ups like this play an important role in the safety of the participants as it shows any weaknesses the participants might have before they continue into the deep open waters.
At the same time, in another part of the town, a group of 6 PADI-trainees started their first courses on how to become a certified PADI diver. As they have no experience with diving, their first day consisted of a number of theory classes and videos, followed by questionnaires, which would give them an impression of what rules they will have to follow to become a certified diver.
When everyone returned to the hotel, the day ended with a communal dinner followed by a mandatory debriefing in which the participants were placed in different groups, all tasked with different objectives. Furthermore, the project’s schedule for the upcoming week was also announced before everyone was free to leave.
About the project
The Maritime Programme and the Shared Cultural Heritage programme of the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (RCE) support this project to build a strong foundation for knowledge, research, policy, cooperation and education. Students will be trained in management, research and protection of the underwater archaeology. One of the aims is to develop awareness of, and capacity building of underwater archaeology in the Asiatic Region. We consider it a good follow up to the training sessions that were held between 2009 and 2012 in Chanthaburi, Thailand (see http://www.culturalheritageconnections.org/wiki/UNESCO_fieldschool_for_Underwater_Cultural_Heritage). The lectures follow the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage and are based on the training manual for the UNESCO foundation course on the protection and management of underwater cultural heritage in Asia and the Pacific: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002172/217234e.pdf. We are delighted that the Institute of Archaeology (IA) in Hanoi will be hosting the training and that the training is organised and supported by SEAMEO SPAFA and the UNESCO underwater heritage-training programme.
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Greetings from Hoi-An,
Mike de Booij