Our mission
Welcome to Helsinki
History of Ikuwa


In Helsinki, the congress focuses on delivering information and interpretations of the underwater cultural heritage or remains, which are strongly linked to living and working along lakes, rivers and seas. The aim is to share the experience of this heritage to the general public and to the research community. This mission of delivery becomes of great importance as it forms an integral part of the narrative told by the studies of our past. The importance of this task is highlighted in a world that faces challenges of the Climate Change, pollution of water, and other types of human related uncertainties of the future.

What is the role of maritime archaeology in building a better future for all of us? In sum, these international congresses have been an opportunity to increase the inter-institutional and international rigorous professionalized cooperation. We hope that the next IKUWA will bring new initiatives and cooperation for the future of mankind, and aid in developing maritime archaeological research in Finland, and participating countries. Our dream is to see the ratification of the UNESCO 2001 Convention of the Underwater Cultural heritage in Finland in near future.



University of Helsinki:

Marine Archaeological Society

Finnish Heritage Agency



Suomen meriarkeologinen seura


Finnish Heritage Agency



At the last congress in Fremantle, Australia in November 2016, the next location was elected. IKUWA7 is due to be held in Helsinki, Finland between the 2 -5 June 2020 - organised by the Faculty of Arts at the University of Helsinki, the Finnish Maritime Archaeological Society and the Finnish Heritage Agency, together with the IKUWA Steering Committee. The theme of the congress is ”Delivering the Deep”.

IKUWA - Internationaler Kongreß für Unterwasserarchäologie - is a global network of cooperating bodies that organises congresses focused on underwater archaeology to raise awareness of the importance of underwater cultural heritage and to create an international regulatory framework for its protection. This begun in Germany in 1999 with the first IKUWA with establishing an ambitious plan of a serie of congresses, aiming to build an international network of institutions dealing with underwater archaeology.

This has been achieved with organizing already six different congresses. Over the years IKUWA has grown to be the most important international congress of maritime archaeology, attracting hundreds of professionals and related parties, from all different parts of the globe. During the congress days, world leading experts get together, share their latest results and insights of the field, and share the global state of the protection of this specific heritage. The congresses are organised under the patronage of UNESCO and the 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage.


IKUWA1, Protection of Cultural Heritage Underwater, the first International Congress on Underwater Archaeology was organized in February 1999 in Sassnitz, Germany. It was organised by the Deutsche Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Unterwasserarchäoloqie (DEGUWA) and seven German and five non-German (Switzerland, UK, Greece, Netherlands and Poland) partner organisations. The congress received support from the Raphael Programme of the European Union, in the context of reinforcing east-west cultural and educational ties. A postgraduate training workshop was held in the days preceding the congress, involving 21 participants from eleven European countries. It contributed to the strategic goal, which was the creation of a long-term network of all European bodies dealing in underwater archaeology.

IKUWA2, A new interpretation of History, was held in Zurich in October 2004. The organising committee included German and British members. About 200 participants from 25 countries attended. The goal of the congress was to demonstrate where and how the historical image has been changed through underwater archaeology investigations during the past decades, and which future investigations can be regarded as promising.

IKUWA3 Beyond Boundaries was held in London in July 2008. It took place under the auspieces of UNESCO´s Director-General. The Nautical Archaeology Society, the Institute of Field Archaeologists, the Institute of Archaeology, and University College London hosted the largest conference on underwater archaeology ever held in Britain including 126 papers, over the three days, attracting 260 participants. UNESCO held a one-day intergovernmental conference at the British Academy on the 2001 Convention, where the British Academy, Historic Scotland, and English Heritage operated as partners.

IKUWA4 Managing the underwater cultural heritage, was held in October 2011 in Zadar, Croatia, where the International Centre for Underwater Archaeology has been established under UNESCO's auspices. The congress attracted some 200 participants from Europe, USA, Australia and the Asia region.

IKUWA5 Heritage for Humanity, was held in October 2014 in Cartagena, Spain, at the Universidad Politecnica de Cartagena. The event was organised and hosted by the National Museum of Underwater Archaeology. Spanish Ministry of Culture sponsored the congress. IKUWA5 attracted nearly 300 participants from Europe and the Mediterranean, Australia, North America, South America and Asia. The publication of the proceedings of IKUWA 5 was released in December 2016.

IKUWA6 Celebrating our Shared Heritage, was held in November 2016 in Fremantle, Australia. It was organised under the patronage of UNESCO and hosted by the Western Australian Museum. The theme of the congress was reflecting the State´s celebrations of the 400th anniversary of the first recorded European landing in Western Australia. It was the first time that IKUWA was held outside Europe, and is the biggest gathering of maritime archaeologists in Australia, attracting 250 participants from some 35 countries in Europe, and the Mediterranean, North America, South America, Asia, Australasia, Africa, the Middle East and Oceania.