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Maritime archaeology – archaeology under the sea

Stone Age settlements, shipwrecks, defence systems, jetties, harbour installations and aircraft wrecks are artefacts of great historical importance and are therefore protected under the Danish Museum Act.

Submerged relics can easily be destroyed when current and wave patterns are altered by construction works. Sites can also be damaged by ferry and ship traffic. Such threatened sites are investigated and excavated by the underwater archaeological museums.

The Viking Ship Museum is responsible for archaeology in eastern Danish waters.

If you find a shipwreck or other submerged site older than 100 years (from the time of wrecking) you must report the find to the appropriate museum.

Archaeology is concerned with the excavation, surveying and protection of historical artefacts, both on land and under the sea. However, the water environment in maritime archaeology sets certain limits. Communication is difficult under water, visibility may be extremely poor, and the necessary diving suits and other equipment make the work exceedingly laborious.

Read more about what you can find under water, how underwater sites are found, and how they are excavated and recorded.