ACUA: A Very Brief Reflection of the Last Ten Years

Posted In: Deep Thoughts

By Dave Ball

Dave Ball, ACUA Board Member, Officer, Individual Associate Member 2008-2017

The first meeting that I participated in of the Advisory Council on Underwater Archaeology (ACUA) was at the 2008 SHA Conference on Historical and Underwater Archaeology, held in Albuquerque, NM. Looking back over the last ten years, I am amazed, first at how quickly the time has passed, and more importantly, how much the Council has accomplished.

ACUA has a long history of advocacy, which dates back to its formation as the Council of Underwater Archaeology in 1959 (see George Fischer’s 1993 retrospective). The Council often writes advocacy letters, either in support of or opposition to issues related to underwater cultural heritage. Yet letter writing is only a small part of ACUA’s efforts. A few of the major accomplishments from the last ten years are highlighted below:


  • ACUA serves as an accredited non-governmental organization (NGO) supporting the Scientific and Technical Advisory Body (STAB) of the United Nation’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) 2001 Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage. SHA and ACUA commemorated the Convention’s entry into force on 02 January 2009 and since that time has continued to be actively engaged with UNESCO and the STAB; former ACUA members Delores Elkin and Maria Helena Barba Meinecke are current members of the UNESCO STAB. ACUA also sends a representative to participate in annual STAB meetings and biennial UNESCO States Parties meetings. While serving as ACUA Secretary (2014 through 2016), I was fortunate to have an opportunity to represent ACUA at the 2015 meetings.
  • Since 2010, ACUA has offered its Submerged Cultural Resources Awareness Workshop at the annual SHA Conference. The workshop introduces non-specialists to issues specific to underwater archaeology. In 2013, a half-day version of the workshop was held at the Southeastern Archaeological Conference annual meeting, and the half-day workshop will be offered at the upcoming Society for California Archaeology meeting in March 2018. The workshop is certified through the Register of Professional Archaeologists’ Continuing Professional Education Program.
  • Established in 2012, the George Fischer Student Travel Award provides a $1,000 travel stipend annually for an international student to participate in the SHA Conference. It will be awarded for the sixth time in New Orleans to our 2018 Fischer Award Winner Maria Ktori of Nicosia, Cyprus.
  • In 2014, ACUA adopted a Statement on Harassment and Intimidation to reflect our core values. In publicly taking a stand against the unwarranted harassment and intimidation that prevents women and minorities from remaining in underwater archaeology, ACUA provided a safe space for all voices to be heard; SHA and the ACUA united their position in 2015.
  • Publications:
    • After a brief hiatus from 2000-2006, ACUA once again started publishing the Underwater Archaeology Proceedings from the annual SHA Conference. Beginning with the 2007 issue, volumes over five years old are available for free download through the ACUA Storefront at LuLu Press.
    • In 2010, the first volume of the SHA/ACUA co-produced series When the Land Meets the Sea was published. The series highlights terrestrial and underwater archaeology research from a single site or a collection of related sites.
    • Since 2013, ACUA Graduate Student Associate Members have published the ACUA Student Newsletter. The Newsletter features student research projects, conferences, field schools, and other useful information for students interested in underwater archaeology.
    • ACUA also works with Springer Press on the peer-reviewed SpringerBriefs in Underwater Archaeology series which focuses on “critical contemporary problems and illustrates exemplary work in maritime cultural heritage in countries around the globe.”

There is not enough space here to tick off the many other accomplishments that ACUA has achieved over the last ten years. However, before I close, I think it is important to mention the newly established ACUA Mentorship Program that will debut at the 2018 SHA Conference next month, read more about it here!

My time on the Board has seen many changes in how ACUA interacts with our colleagues in underwater archaeology and the advocacy role we play on a global scale.  Yet, the goals of the ACUA have changed very little. It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve with so many talented people and to be part of an organization that is contributing so much to the field.