One of the key objective of the International Centre for Underwater Archaeology in Zadar (ICUA Zadar) – UNESCO category 2 centre is to develop international and regional cultural cooperation, cooperation with related centres and research institutes in order to improve its professional work.
The European Commission has approved funding for the Strategic partnership in higher education project entitled "Enhancing underwater archaeology, in order to make it an innovative tool for developing sustainable and creative tourism'' (acronym: U-Mar), under the Call for Project Proposals of the Erasmus+ program (Key Activity 2: Cooperation among organizations and institutions). The Phoenicians' Route (La Rotta dei Fenici), international association from Italy, is the Coordinator of the U-Mar two-year project. ICUA Zadar signed an agreement as a partner institution with the association La Rotta dei Fenici at the begining of 2022. A total of six European partners take part in the project activities. Other partners are institutions from Spain (CEI.Mar - Campus de Excelencia Internacional del Mar, Cádiz), Italy (ARGO, Emilia-Romagna, Soprintendenza del Mare della Regila Siciliana, Palermo), Cyprus (Pafos Tourism Board) and Portugal (Associação Comercial and Industrial do Funchal - Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Madeira). The idea of the project is the inclusion and training of professional figures with specific skills in the field of underwater archaeology, it is expected a prime knowledge transfer among partner institutions as well as the development of eco sustainable tourism related to underwater cultural heritage.
In 2022 during the first U-Mar project phase, ICUA Zadar was responsible for the development of one new innovative training course on underwater archaeology. Future participants will learn about the importance of underwater archaeology and the interpretation of underwater archaeological sites in an appropriate and sustainable way through examples from the project partner countries. The purpose of the course is to introduce underwater cultural heritage to cultural workers, tourism operators and archaeology students, which can become a valuable tool in cultural tourism, part of the tourist promotion of a destination or region, and to raise awareness and connect cultural identity to interested foreign tourists and the local population.
In 2022 ICUA Zadar employees Maja Kaleb, Roko Surić and external associate archaeologist Ivan Vidulić participated in meetings in Marinella di Selinunte in Sicily, Italy. The Centre hosted the 2nd U-Mar transnational project meeting held in September 2022, when the final draft of the underwater course was presented. In January 2023 a meeting was held in Cadiz, Spain, and until the end of the project, meetings are planned in Cyprus and on the island of Madeira (Portugal). The leading partner La Rotta dei Fenici is responsible for the final project phase and the project result which is the establishment of interpretation centres on underwater archaeology in the partner countries.
ICUA Zadar future agenda is to explore in addition the opportunities for applying to EU funding projects intended for cultural heritage, innovation systems and mobility, and to build a network of relevant institutions.
More detailed information on U-Mar project can be found at the Phoenicians' Route website: www.fenici.net