Underwater spaces, particularly vulnerable, conceal and protect under their surface an invaluable but little-known heritage. The underwater remains preserve the traces of the populations that have crossed them since prehistory.
The purpose of underwater archaeology is to detect, protect and study these underwater assets and to advance knowledge. Any operation must be authorised and can thus benefit from State financial support.
Presentation of the device
What is underwater cultural heritage?
The term “underwater cultural heritage” refers to traces of human existence that have been submerged for at least 100 years. These traces have a cultural, historical or archaeological character and can be submerged in whole or in part, periodically or permanently.
Underwater archaeological operations are the subject of one or more scientific research programs:
- the purpose of the survey, which is to detect the presence of elements and to take a sample to assess the archaeological potential before initiating a excavation)
- excavation of a marine cultural property
- removal or removal of marine cultural property
- prospecting using specialized equipment to establish the location of a marine cultural property
The heritage code (article L532-7) provides that: "No person may carry out prospecting with the aid of specialized equipment for establishing the location of a maritime cultural object, or carry out excavations or surveys without first having obtained the administrative authorisation issued on the basis of the applicant’s qualification and the nature and manner of the search. '
Request for Research Authorization
Anyone wishing to carry out archaeological research in the maritime public domain must apply for authorization to the DRASSM and declare their intention to carry out an underwater archaeological operation.
The authorization issued by the CMRAS indicates the location of the search, its surface area and its duration. It also lays down the scientific requirements to be complied with.
This request covers registration with a PCR, a request for programmed excavation, sounding, diachronic prospecting, thematic prospecting, prospecting with specialized equipment, metal detector, identification of maritime cultural property, movement of BCM, documentary study.
Criminal offences and penalties
The Heritage Code (Articles L544-5 to L544-11) provides that any person who breaches the reporting obligations provided for in the second paragraph ofarticle L. 532-3 or at thearticle L. 532-4 is punished by a 3.750 € fine.
Is punished by the same punishment the fact that any person has made a false declaration to the public authority as to the location and composition of the deposit on which the declared object was discovered.
The fact, for any person, of having carried out prospections, surveys, withdrawals or digs on maritime cultural property or of having carried out a displacement of such property or a sampling thereof in contravention of the provisions of the first paragraph ofarticle L. 532-3 or of the Articles L. 532-7 and L. 532-8 is punished by a fine of €7,500.
Objectives of the approach
Old boats and ships, stranded, shipwrecked, sites and places of life now submerged are the testimony of the occupation of the territory of Men. Underwater cultural heritage has been a witness to our shared memory for several millennia. The protection and preservation of underwater cultural heritage, as historical remains, allows a better knowledge of culture, history and science. The research allows us to enrich, inventory, study and highlight the archaeological heritage immersed in all marine waters, thus transmitting knowledge to future generations.
The main purpose of authorizations for underwater archaeological research is therefore the study and transmission of maritime cultural property.
Am I concerned by this approach?
- Research organisations
The applicant must be of full age.
The application will not be eligible if:
- the plan is not located in the French maritime public domain
- neither the applicant nor his team has a qualification in diving and archaeology
The amount varies according to projects and budget availability.
The grant is paid in two instalments. An 80% deposit is paid upon acceptance of the application.
The payment of the remaining 20% is conditional on the transmission of the following:
- scientific report of the operation, prepared in accordance with the recommendations for the writing of the final report of the underwater operation
- Scientific notice for the DRASSM Scientific Review
- deposit of inventory of furniture
- release of the documentation generated by the operation (excavation minutes, photographs, readings, cuts, data survey, etc.)
- table summarising all expenditure incurred in carrying out the operation
- copy of receipts and/or invoices justifying all such expenses
Associations will need to attach a financial report to their file.
For excavations at sea, the authorization shall be issued, after Territorial Commission for Archaeological Research (CTRA) and State action at sea (Maritime Prefecture, DDTM, DML), by the Department of Underwater and Underwater Archaeological Research (DRASSM) on the specific actions presented.
Authorisation is granted to the person responsible for the operation in view of the research project, his skills and the composition of his team.
The examination of files will take into account:
- the quality and feasibility of the scientific project
- team qualifications
- safety measures taken for the crew, under and on the water, including the foreshore
- Deadline for submission of applications: no later than 1 December of the year preceding the completion of the operation.
- Decisions announced: by April 15 of the award year
- Down payment: second half of the year of award
- Request for payment of balance: by June 30 of the year N+1
The operations manager gives Report annually to CMIB, allowing the territorial commission to evaluate archaeological research. The report is an administrative, scientific and heritage document that presents the results of an archaeological operation and marks its annual completion.
Applicants may apply for a grant with the application.
- Deadline for submission of applications: no later than 1er December of the year preceding the completion of operations.
- Announcement of decisions: by March 31 of the project year.
- To access the online authorization form, click on the "Access form" button at the bottom of the page.
- Log in or create an account, then let yourself be guided.
You can then apply for a grant.
Examples of projects previously supported
- The wrecks of D-Day, 1944 (Calvados). Off the beaches of Normandy the seabed preserves about 150 shipwrecks, landing barges, armoured vehicles and remains of artificial ports.
- Underwater archaeology of the landing
- The corsair wrecks of Saint-Malo. The discovery of two sunken frigates improved knowledge of the XVIII Racing War;e century practised by privateers.
If you have any questions about authorizing research in underwater archaeology, please contact:
Department of Underwater Archaeological Research (DRASSM)
04 91 14 28 00
147 Estaque beach 13016 Marseille