Underwater archaeology in Latvia (1996)

Underwater archaeology in Latvia is not a highly developed branch of science and makes its first steps in the direction towards serious work. Twenty years ago I made an unsuccessful attempt to found an Underwater archaeology department in the Riga museum of History and Navigation.

A new opportunity for this showed up seven years ago with the struggle for freedom and independence. But revolution time is not the best time for culture. The beginning of our work coincided with these changes in Latvia, so we could not receive any help from our government due to the hard economic situation. We had to solve our problems ourselves.

Our present main tasks are:

  • collect information about underwater historical objects
  • to find, identify and preserve these objects
  • prepare a program for underwater archaeology development and education in Latvia

Now our work produces its first results:

  1. We have documented 32 wrecks.
  2. We have investigated an ancient settlement on piled underwater dwellings.
  3. There is a law protecting all historical objects underwater. Wrecks older than 50 years are legally protected
  4. We have good contacts with relevant organisations in Latvia and other countries.

1996 has been very important for our development. We now work inside the Latvian centre of archaeology. Previously, we worked on a municipal level, but from this year we are recognised on a national level. In 1996 we made our first video film in Latvia.

Presently, we have these problems:

  • We have very little equipment, and have to borrow boats, etc.
  • We don't even have a personal computer for our recording. We have too much new information and need a database program for our wreck database.

Jurmala, October, 1996.

Related text

Underwater archaeology investigations in Latvia during the last decade (2001)

Voldemars Rains,
head of Dept of Marine archaeology
Jurmala Muzeums
Jana Pliekšana iela 82-8
LV-2015 Jurmala, Latvia

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