SAHRA’S MUCH UNIT
South Africa has a rich and diverse maritime and underwater cultural heritage comprising shipwrecks, submerged prehistoric landscapes, pre-colonial intertidal fish traps, and sacred lakes to which oral traditions are attached.
During the 15th century trading between Europe and the East expanded rapidly and the shipping trade route became increasingly busy and important as demand for exotic goods soared amongst the European elite. South Africa’s geographical position at the mid-point on this route became fundamental to the continuation of trade and, as such, its recent history is inextricably linked to the history of the rest of the world. It was information brought back from these expeditions that helped establish colonies in the Cape which then expanded to other areas of southern Africa. The popularity and dangers of this route is reflected in the nearly 3 000 historical shipwrecks of different nationalities that are scattered around our coast. Shipwrecks are a unique archaeological resource and can provide a wealth of historical information. These precious resources need to be managed, maintained and protected as part of the nation’s shared history.
In addition to these wrecks, our maritime heritage includes many other sites associated with European maritime activities, such as shipwreck survivor sites, and maritime infrastructure like lighthouses, harbours and dockyards.
Access the full background and unit mandate below…..
CALL TO ACTION
Donate towards the preservation and promotion of the heritage resources protected under the Maritime and Underwater Cultural Heritage Unit.