Egypt has provided humanity with a majestic concrete civilization that continued for thousands of years since the break of dawn. Historians and archaeologists have been interested in studying this civilization and its endlessly creative, accomplished legacy. Marine archaeology is considered one of the new sciences that studies the Ancient Egyptian Civilization throughout its different ages through archaeological findings, either underground or underwater. Egypt witnessed an attention paid to underwater and marine archaeology for many years, since several institutes and individuals were keen on finding underwater antiquities and affiliating marine cities and active and obliterated harbors, and getting to know the old navigation methods, and the related trade and marine activity. Consequently, researchers delved in this infinite science full of mystery and joy of discovering.
Not only had the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities paid attention to afford the opportunity to excavations in Egypt by foreign missions specialized in underwater and marine archaeology and collaborated in their scientific and archaeological work, but also founded the Department of Underwater Antiquities in Alexandria in 1996 to be the specialized annex of the Ministry entrusted with enriching Egyptian archaeological and scientific research in the field, and the section responsible for revealing the secrets of this amazing, deep world of Egyptian legacy. This was until the Department became a central department of underwater antiquities, thus in charge of more practical and scientific responsibilities including the organization of archaeological work and specialized scientific collaboration in the field of underwater and marine archaeology, not only in Alexandria, but all over Egypt, whether in the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, or the River Nile. The Bibliotheca Alexandrina, since its foundation, also paid attention to reviving the rich Egyptian civilizational legacy represented in the Ancient Bibliotheca Alexandrina. It paid attention to archaeology in general, and marine and underwater antiquities specifically. Thus, galleries, meetings, workshops, and others were organized; books and prints tackling this important subject were published, either via Alexandria Project, which documents the Ancient Bibliotheca Alexandrina and its legacy, or other activities of the New Bibliotheca Alexandrina and its research centers.
The Bibliotheca Alexandrina, represented in the Alexandria Project, and the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, represented in the central Department of Underwater Antiquities, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the foundation of the central Department of Underwater Antiquities, realized that together Underwater and Marine Archaeology should be celebrated through calling for holding the Alexandria International Conference for Underwater and Marine Antiquities, 31 October – 2 November 2016, in Alexandria, Egypt, to present the different aspects of this field, and to study the latest specialized archaeological findings. The three-day Conference tackles the following topics:
- Archaeological harbors:
- Marine ports and harbors
- Ancient shipbuilding:
- Boats and ships in Ancient Egypt
- Boats and ships in Ancient Mediterranean
- Ships in the Islamic Era
- Underwater archaeological sites:
- Archaeological findings in Egypt.
Those in charge of the Conference were honored to participate with the European Institute for Underwater Archaeology (IEASM) headed by Professor Franck Goddio, and the Centre for Alexandrian Studies (CEAlex) headed by Archaeologist Mary Dominick Nina, in terms of financial support and organization.
The Conference is honored to have an elite of Egyptian and international historians and archaeologists specialized in studying underwater and marine antiquities in several archaeological missions, inside and outside Egypt. Twenty-five scientists and archaeologists from Egypt, France, Greece, Italy, Japan, Poland, Russia, Tunisia, Turkey, United Kingdom, and United States of America, participated in the Conference.
The Conference also honors pioneer individuals and institutions in underwater and marine archaeology, who exerted distinguished and distinct efforts, enriched this archaeological work in Egypt, and contributed in establishing its bases. The Conference honors the following:
- Name of Prince Omar Tousson
- Name of Mr. Kamel Abou el-Saadat
- Name of Archaeologist Honor Frost
- The Archaeological Society of Alexandria
- Dr. Ibrahim Darwish