Partner 9: DBCIS (Dipartimento per I Beni Culturali e l’Identità Siciliana, Italy)

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Something highly topical for the world of culture and public administration, and not only Sicilian, is the institution of the first Superintendence of the Sea in Italy, the second in Europe after the Greek one. It came into being legislatively with a special article in the 2004 regional financial law. It operates in the regional Dipartimento per I Beni Culturali e l’Identità Siciliana of the Assessorato per I Beni Culturali e l’Identità Siciliana  of the Sicilian Region with tasks of research, census, tutelage, vigilance, valorisation and use of the underwater archaeological patrimony in the sea around Sicily and the smaller islands off it.

This is the arrival point of a development that began with the creation of GIASS (Sicilian Group for Underwater Archaeological Exploration) in January 1999 and, later, of SCRAS (Service for the Coordination of Submarine Archaeological Researches). Since the beginning SCRAS has dealt with underwater archaeological research with an all-round outlook, seeing this discipline not only as a mere exercise of archaeological activity in the water, but as a systematic approach to the culture, the tradition and the history of the relationship between man and the sea. This means that we have not limited ourselves to the treatment of themes, sites and wrecks referring exclusively to older times, but, in line with what is happening in countries where this sector of research is more

advanced, have also dealt with medieval and modern traces, as well as contemporary marine traditions, always bearing in mind that since the most remote prehistory a thin but very evident thread has linked man’s activities near the sea, on the sea and in the sea.

The structure that the Sicilian Region has created for managing research in this sector has already reached a high level of maturity and a satisfactory level of technical equipment. The models that have guided us have been

those of the French DRASM, of the Greek similar Superintendence and the Catalan Tetis. The operational activity has been guaranteed both by a minimum of autonomous technicalinstrumental equipment, but, above all, by the constant help of those that watch over the sea (Customs and Excise, Carabinieri, Harbourmasters/ Coastguard, Police).