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Facebook Group
A Facebook group has been set up in order to "...encourage the British Government to pledge that it will never again sign profit sharing deals with US-based Odyssey Marine Exploration and that it will always oppose mercenary profit-led salvage of historic marine archaeology sites".

I'm not on Facebook, so I don't know much else. Apparently it's endorsed by the CBA and can be found at:

Sounds like a worthy cause to me :face-approve:
<i>\"I\'m a time traveller. I point and laugh at archaeologists.\"</i>
Interestingly this was also reported in October 2003 in The Digger (voice of
the archaeologist) with a twist - apologies for ancient website!

and again here in November

This issue reproduces an informal comment by Peter Hinton about the role of
an IfA RAO;

"...We've taken the view that it is clear that the site will not survive
(too well known, too much loot) and rather than have it trashed with grab
buckets it is better to go with the Odyssey plan and get some archaeological
data. We've argued therefore that the site needs proper archaeological
supervision and that the excavation should be to IFA standard. With an RAO
[IFA Registered Archaeological Organisation] we expect to get that....."

This is a very complex case, and I think it is good to highlight it.. and
the issues it raises... ones very similar to terrestrial sites too -
needless to say... and of course one has to remember that the comemnts
above were made 6 years ago, so may not reflect current thinking.

Constant development is the law of life, and a man who always tries to maintain his dogmas in order to appear consistent drives himself into a false position.
Mohandas Gandhi
The issue's currently very live, as Odyssey are pressurising the Government to sign an agreement "salvage" the cargo of the HMS Victory. The 2003 comments were related to the HMS Sussex - a disgraceful episode all round. Sad


This Facebook group exists to encourage the British Government to pledge that it will never again sign profit sharing deals with US-based Odyssey Marine Exploration and that it will always oppose mercenary profit-led salvage of historic marine archaeology sites.

The background:
(***UPDATE: this has now been checked and corrobated by archaeology experts in the UK***)

Someone in the British Government must have seen dollar signs flash before their eyes when they were approached by the foreign salvage company.
"You can share the spoils," said the salvage company, "Just sign on the dotted line and everything will be OK."

Sure enough, the British Government casually agreed a profit sharing arrangement with Florida-based Odyssey Marine Exploration in 2002.

Whoever it was in the British Government - we're told it was a penpusher at the Ministry of Defence - they were signing away up to 80% of the wealth on board HMS Sussex, a British-owned wreck dating from 1694 which is thought to carry up to 10 tons of gold. All that without the standard supervision from UK marine archaeologists.

It caused a barrage of protests from British MPs, 60 of whom signed an early day motion 'condemning the ransacking of shipwrecks under the aegis of archeaological exploration'.

Then UK archaeological groups became involved, heavily criticising the British Government for failing to observe its own protocols and ensure that all archeaological work is conducted according to UNESCO principles and commissioned through English Heritage as the government?s advisor on the historic environment.

Archaeologists again criticised the government in March 2009 over talks with Odyssey Marine Exploration about another treasure wreck in the English Channel. This time, UNESCO also weighed into the debate. (See links below).

Thankfully, the Spanish Government saw sense in regard to this and other wreck sites and is successfully pursuing a case against Odyssey Marine Exploration through the US courts in Summer 2009 in an effort to prevent the company claiming treasure from shipwrecks thought to be within Spanish Government jurisdiction. The case continues.


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