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The notion of 'verifiable links' in the 2001 UNESCO Convention on the protection of the underwater cultural heritage: verifiable links between Africa, South America, Eastern Europe, Central Europe, France, Belgium, The Netherlands and a shipwreck site in the North Sea.


The 2001 UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage entered into force on Is' January 2009, three months after the twentieth ratification. Since then the ratification process has gathered speed. On 1st July 2014 the number of ratifications stood at 48. The standards set out in the Convention have a fundamental influence upon underwater archaeology, international heritage protection and processes surrounding archaeological discoveries at sea in general. A concept that the Convention introduces is that of a 'verifiable link'. It appears no fewer than six times in the Convention. In this article, the meaning of the concept is explored and illustrated by means of a concrete archaeological example: the 'Aanloop Molengat' site that was discovered in 1984 at the bottom of the North Sea, off the island of Texel, a barrier island with a Pleistocene core at the north-western corner of the Netherlands.


The expression 'verifiable link' is relatively new to legal and heritage discourses. It does not appear in any formal document that predates the drafting of the 2001 UNESCO Convention on the protection of the underwater cultural heritage. (1) The expression does not seem to appear as a strictly defined concept in the wider archaeological or heritage related literature either. That makes it important to know what the expression means and what it implies. The expression has after all been embedded in a Convention that binds a growing number of States and that has implications for the further development of both national and international law, as well as for archaeological practice. Here the concept will be explored from the perspective of an archaeologist who is familiar with the development of heritage legislation in general, and with the discussions leading to the 2001 Convention, its operational rules and their implementation in particular. (2) The emphasis is on exploring what the concept of verifiable link means in practice, in archaeological practice and the practice of reacting to gradually surfacing information that steers (or interacts with) research priorities and heritage management decisions alike. Consequently, a practical example is put at the centre of the study: the 'Aanloop Molengat' site, its research history and research outcome. The example is convenient in that the discovery of the site in 1984 forced a breakthrough by extending national heritage protection in the Netherlands to include underwater shipwreck sites and to allow research to prevail over unscrupulous salvage. It is thus an iconic choice. It sits in the flow of developments that prompted policy change both at the national level and in an international context. The site's research history coincided with discussions at the Council of Europe, in professional organisations and at UNESCO that led to the 2001 Convention, through to its entry into force in 2009 and was recently consolidated in a comprehensive publication. (3) The gradual disclosure of 'verifiable links' in the Aanloop Molengat research will thus form the core of the present article, but to start with, the legal context of the concept will be addressed, while in conclusion the archaeological context in which the concept needs to be operationalised is recapitulated. The legal texts in which the expression occurs will be briefly analysed, and the legal implications and obligations related to 'verifiable links' will be touched upon.


The expression 'verifiable link' appears six times in the 2001 Convention, in five separate Articles. (4) In each instance it appears in the same formula: 'States with a verifiable link, especially a cultural, historical or archaeological link'. In Article 6, the formula extends to include 'the underwater cultural heritage concerned. The same extension applies to Article 9, Article 11 and to Article 18.3. In Article 18.4 the extension reads 'in respect of the underwater cultural heritage concerned. In Article 7 the extension is absent but there can be no doubt that here as well the concept is applied to a link between States (plural) and the particular heritage to which the Article relates.

International co-operation is central to the Convention. In Article 6 this is emphasised in that States Parties are encouraged to formalise their co-operation through bilateral, regional or other multilateral agreements. Article 6.2 suggests inviting 'States with a verifiable link, especially a cultural, historical or archaeological link, to the underwater cultural heritage concerned' to join in with such agreements. Neither the character of the verifiable link, nor that of the bilateral, regional or other multilateral agreement in question, nor indeed of the heritage concerned is defined. In fact, the Article is to be understood as relating to any class or group of sites or any single site as the case may be, for which a specific agreement can be or has been negotiated. There are some examples, ranging from the 'Old Dutch Shipwrecks', found or undiscovered, that are subject to an agreement between the Netherlands, the Australian Commonwealth and the state of Western Australia on the one hand, (5) to the wreck-site of the SS Titanic, which, while being located in mid-ocean has been subject to the negotiation of a multilateral agreement between the United Kingdom, France, Canada and the United States (6) on the other. But a regional agreement between the coastal States of a well-defined area specifying a joint approach on the protection and management for a much wider array of heritage, would also fit the bill. (7) Likewise, Article 6 is to be understood as relating to any form of 'verifiable link'. The content of the Article is very open.

States that join the Convention commit themselves to informing other States about heritage under their sovereignty, and to treat it according to the Rules of the Convention and the best practice to which the Rules refer. In recognition of general practice among States, Article 7.3 singles out discoveries that relate to 'identifiable State vessels and aircraft'. In those cases the flag State (if it still exists and is Party to the Convention) should be informed. This is in accordance with practice amongst States on the basis of customary international law. Interestingly, however, the moral obligation to inform is extended 'if applicable' to 'other States with a verifiable link, especially a cultural, historical or archaeological link, with respect to the discovery of such identifiable State vessels and aircraft'. Although it is not hard to define--both legally and in terms of heritage sites--what 'identifiable State vessels and aircraft' means when it comes to wreckage post-dating (the beginning of) the First World War, both the legal definition and consequences, and the archaeological relevance of the term 'identifiable State vessel' are much more blurred for the previous period. (8) Many would even deny that the concept can be stretched backward at all; others are convinced the associated concept of sovereign immunity does not serve the State's relations with individuals in present-day society in an ethically sound manner. That is not, however, our present concern. Article 7 makes it clear that in matters concerning the protection of heritage 'flag States' have a 'verifiable link', but that other such links may exist as well, and are considered equally important.

Articles 9 and 11 are in some ways very similar. Article 9 sets out the regime of information exchange on heritage sites in the Exclusive Economic Zone or on the Continental Shelf, maritime zones in which a coastal State has a say; Article 11 does the same for the 'Area' where no coastal jurisdiction exists at all. Both Articles serve as an introduction to the provisions which follow, in which the co-ordination of activities in these respective zones are addressed. Both refer specifically to States with a verifiable link, who are to be in the loop. Nevertheless, the wording is slightly different in the two instances. Article 9 allows any State party to the Convention to declare its interest in being consulted on 'on how to ensure the effective protection of that underwater cultural heritage'. However, such declaration shall be based on a 'verifiable link, especially a cultural, historical or archaeological link, to the underwater cultural heritage concerned'. In Article 11 the details of the procedure are slightly different, as no coastal State exists, but the setup is similar. Again any State can declare its interest in being consulted. Again, such a declaration shall be based on a verifiable link. In this case, however, the verifiable link to the underwater cultural heritage concerned is enlarged upon with the further clause: '..., particular regard being paid to the preferential rights of States of cultural, historical or archaeological origin'. This seems to serve more as a reminder that these States should not be forgotten or should not forget to declare an interest, than as a qualification or restriction of the basis for declaring an interest. In previously established international law, such as the Law of the Sea Convention of 1982, the country or State of origin is mentioned. (9) In the 2001 Convention there is recognition that preferential rights such as those relating to original ownership may exist. The meaning of verifiable link, however, is clearly not restricted.

Article 18 deals with seizure of heritage that has been retrieved from its site in 'a manner not in conformity with this Convention'. Each State party to the Convention commits itself to the seizure of such heritage when it is found to be in their territory. Several responsibilities follow, such as proper care and conservation, but also to inform other States Parties, notably States with a verifiable link (Article 18.3). Moreover, in disposing of such heritage out of context, the seizing State should follow a range of considerations, but also take account of the 'the interests of any State with a verifiable link, especially a cultural, historical or archaeological link, in respect of the underwater cultural heritage concerned'. It is perhaps in this Article that it is made clearest that States with a 'verifiable link' have an interest. Let us now look at the verifiable links in the Aanloop Molengat site and how such links were established.

The partial excavation of the Aanloop Molengat site, and research of the excavated material leads to a few daring historical inferences relating to European political history between 1635 and 1640. These inferences are based on the dating and the combined assemblage discovered in the wreck. They were arrived at by retracing a range of 'verifiable links' and then considering all the material in context. It is suggested that the ship was destined for France which had ordered its cargo as part or consequence of a contentious deal linking France and the Dutch Republic which did not find pride of place in the national histories of either country.

The first verifiable link of the archaeological site is with the Netherlands. Not only was the site discovered by a Dutch citizen, an inhabitant of the island of Texel; the location of the wreck-site is also off the Dutch coast (Fig. 1, below). More specifically, it lies within Dutch territorial waters, and this was true even at the time of discovery, before territorial waters were extended in 1986. Moreover, although this was not clear at the time, the ship at Aanloop Molengat is Dutch. It is Dutch built. (10) Its cargo derived from the Dutch Republic, although most of it was sourced from elsewhere. (11) It is a large and well-armed ship (Fig. 2). Its carrying capacity was at least 550-600 tonnes (300 last in the terms of the day). This is larger than assumed when data was gathered during excavation, but the measured and calculated weight of its cargo confirms it (Table below). It carried 9-pounder semi-culverins, large guns used for large ships, and possibly even heavier armament. The upperworks have broken away and were not deposited at the investigated site.

The ship was departing from the Texel Roads when it sank in the North Sea. This must have taken place between 1635 and around 1640 (or 1648 at the latest), with a major loss at the beginning of November 1638 as a likely--as yet unconfirmed--candidate. The ship's cargo had been brought to the Amsterdam staple across borders of war and despite limitations on the transport of strategic goods in the countries that were crossed. The only product in the cargo that was probably produced in Amsterdam itself is pins, a regular produce of domestic industry in the city. The pins come in four sizes (Fig. 3), and this is in accordance with a deed relating to their production. (12) Woollen fabrics, represented by 'cloth'-seals from the cities of Leiden and Delft, are the only other product in the cargo that was actually manufactured in the Dutch Republic (Fig. 5). But more woollen fabrics were sourced from Hondschoote in the western tip of Flanders, then in the Spanish Netherlands, now in France, and from Mons in Spanish Hainaut. Leiden and Hondschoote were competing centres of factory-based production of woollen cloth of varying quality and colour. Both were booming in the 1630s. (13) Of contemporary production in Hainaut we know very little. At least part of the present consignment was top quality purple herensaai and saye de seigneurs, a non-felted fabric, woven in a twill pattern. The production of these expensive fabrics would later decrease in favour of cheaper cloth (laken). The consistent date of 1635 on the lead seals and the fact that production could hardly keep up with market demand are the main arguments to consider 1635 not only as the earliest possible date for the ship's last departure, but also as indicative of the date of this imminent occasion.

It is likely that barrels with wrought iron products such as nails come from Brabant (or Liege). It is for this reason that the map (Fig. 4 on page 108) shows three arrows from the Spanish Netherlands. A consignment of leather was most probably brought into the Amsterdam staple from the West-Indies (Latin America and the Caribbean), before having been loaded onto our ship (Fig. 6). The specific characteristics of the cattle in combination with evidence for specific slaughtering practices lead to this conclusion. Ivory comes from Africa (Fig. 7).

A more substantial part of the cargo consists of non-ferrous metals. Tin comes from Bohemia, mined under royal--Habsburg--statutes (Fig. 8). Only a little comes from Saxony, the leading protestant state. But Bohemian and Saxon tin is jointly packed in spruce barrels. It had been traded through several hands along the Elbe to Hamburg and onwards to the Republic, as overland routes were certainly blocked as a result of the Thirty-Years' War. (14)

A shipment of lead (Fig. 9) was mined in little Poland, in the area of the mining town Olkusz, close to Cracow. Polish sources refer to embargos on its transport in times of war. (15) Apparently such embargos were easily overcome down the Vistula and through Gdansk. Just as strategic as lead, is iron or early industrial steel (Fig. 10). It is produced from low phosphorous and low manganese ores, but it is presently impossible to say where it comes from. (16) Certainly not from the Netherlands, but Sweden and Bavaria are both likely candidates. Bavaria suggests itself on the basis of the modern process and its contemporary appreciation, (17) and would mean that it is again sourced from Habsburg--and thus enemy territory through Hamburg; if from Sweden, it is sourced through the Kattegat route, just like the Polish lead. Even less determinable as to origin is precious mercury carried in lead-capped square storage bottles (Fig.11). Despite this, all red arrows in the map in Fig. 4 represent verifiable links of the assemblage.


In the history of the Dutch Republic, the year 1635 lies almost exactly halfway between the end of the twelve-year truce in 1621 and the conclusion of peace with Habsburg Spain in 1648, which settled the Dutch Revolt and the Eighty Years' War. Around 1635 the war faction in the States-General and stadhouder Frederik Hendrik try to intensify campaigns against the Spanish in the Southern Netherlands, whereas others, with strong backing from 'regents' in the Province of Holland and the City of Amsterdam try to prevent war from interfering with maritime trade. In that respect, the Spanish outsourcing of war in the form of intense privateering from Dunkirk was a particular menace. Competition for control between the military faction and merchant interests that favoured peace or truce date from before the conclusion of the twelve-year truce in 1609, but continued unabatedly. (18)

On the wider European scene, 1635 lies between the Bohemian rebellion against Habsburg rule that started off the so-called Thirty Years' War in 1618 and its conclusion in 1648, at the same general peace conference in Munster, Westphalia that settled the peace between the Dutch Republic and Habsburg Spain. As religious fervour was both fed and overruled by power politics, the Thirty Years' War is a highly complicated conflict including all sorts of troubles and military campaigns. In historical analysis it is commonly broken down in four phases. (19) In 1635 the second or 'Swedish' phase had just come to an end.

At the battle of Nordlingen (6th September 1634) the alliance of Swedish and protestant-German forces trying to defeat the imperial--Habsburg--troops had not been successful, but had suffered a severe beating themselves. As a consequence Saxony, one of the leading protestant states in Germany, prepared a separate peace with the Emperor. This so-called 'Peace of Prague' was concluded in May 1635. It isolated the Swedish troops on the middle European scene and shifted the balance of power in favour of imperial and catholic forces, but also in favour of the Habsburg dynasty. For France such a shift favouring Habsburg was unacceptable. So far, it had only marginally taken part in the war other than through diplomacy and financially supporting parties that would weaken Habsburg power. It had, for instance subsidised the military campaigns of the Seven Provinces in the Spanish Netherlands as late as in April 1634. From now on, however, Louis XIII and his minister Richelieu were more inclined to active interference, and the 'French' phase of the war began. French troops were sent to central Europe. In February 1635 the relationship with the Seven United Provinces was sealed with an assertive military treaty, and in May of the same year France declared war on Spain. (20)


With the data on ship size, armament and cargo consolidated, it becomes possible to give this information a role in our understanding of the past. At a very basic level the Aanloop Molengat assemblage and interim reports have long started to inform us on specific production processes. But, all things considered, it is also possible to take our interpretation a step further and to develop a historical narrative relating to the cargo as a whole. It is here that the 'verifiable links' come in as important indicators, but also where other such links are established. Where does the cargo, its shipment and the ship that carried it fit in the 1630s as we interpret them in economic, political and social history; or in the history of specific nations? All nations with 'verifiable links' with the assemblage are implied. But the Dutch Republic stands out; it was there that the ship was built, outfitted and laden. And so does the destination, even though the cargo never arrived. Having been sourced through what we denote as the 'Amsterdam staple', the cargo could go anywhere. But in fact, the specific context leaves only a limited number of possibilities that make sense in terms of reviewing and rewriting historical narrative.

Size and armament suggest a ship that was engaged in the Mediterranean trade, which with reference to the Straits of Gibraltar was called Straatvaart. (21) Ships in this trade were generally tramping, meaning that they would take profitable cargo to and from any port en route. Leaving the Dutch Republic they might load cargo destined all the way for the Levant, but that would be more the exception than the rule. Moreover, nothing would prevent Dutch merchants from trading with enemy powers or their subjects. (22) This implies that a destination for the first haul in France, Northern Spain or Portugal would be as likely as any Mediterranean port. Nevertheless, the composition of the Aanloop Molengat cargo makes many destinations unlikely.

Of course it is possible to conceive of the cargo as separate shipments. But both the consignment of iron or steel (510 to 570 tonnes) and the consignment of lead (30 to 50 tonnes) are so substantial that it is more natural to consider the cargo as a unity, destined for one client. Considering the strategic nature of the goods, this client is most likely to be a public party, a sovereign and a belligerent one (at the time there were hardly any exceptions). The central European Habsburgs would not, however, source these materials so indirectly through the Atlantic; neither would the Sublime Porte or any subordinate unit in the Ottoman Empire. (23) Habsburg Spain is different; it certainly traded with merchants from the Dutch Republic. (24) But the Iberian Peninsula itself is rich in ores. Portugal and Spain would certainly import copper (25) and occasionally lead, (26) but lead and iron, and also tin and mercury are available from local sources, with production dominated by the Crown. (27)

On the way to the Mediterranean, however, lies the coast of France. France also had resources of its own, but industrial production lagged behind the demands of the centralising State. (28) In view of its military ambitions, however, France did have money to spend. (29)

The story that the Aanloop Molengat assemblage seems to indicate, is that the ship may have been destined for the Mediterranean, but that the cargo was destined for France. The direct corollary of this interpretation is that the supply of these strategic goods was part of--or a consequence of--the military treaty that the negotiators for the States General had struck with Louis XIII and Richelieu on 8th February 1635. As the treaty between France and the Dutch Republic included the possibility of dividing the Spanish Netherlands between the two, it is commonly referred to as the Traite de Partage. In Dutch national history the treaty was highly contentious from the outset. It was under the pressure of the imminent arrival of Cardinal-Infant Don Ferdinand as new governor and military leader in the Spanish Netherlands that the military faction could convince the merchant party and Holland's representative Adriaen Pauw to agree to the deal in the first place. (30) Don Ferdinand was the Spanish King's brother and had been critically successful at Nordlingen. As the treaty provided a basis for French expansion northwards later in the century under Louis XIV, it certainly acquired an infamous reputation. (31) As the agreed demarcation did not conform to the linguistic boundary, it also was considered a major breach of community spirit, treason rather, to the Dutch-speaking population of the southern Low Countries in national history as written in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. (32)

What the Aanloop Molengat cargo seems to confirm is that the merchant party wholeheartedly profited from the opportunity that the Traite de Partage created, whether the supply was an integral part of the deal or just its consequence. It is an episode of military, political and commercial history that has been glossed over, as it was not particularly honourable to either the military factions or the development of Holland's trade. In the context of French national history it more or less disappeared as well. After all, the expansion northwards--then and later--remained confined to a very limited zone, including Dunkirk and Hondschoote as places relevant to the present story. The truth of course is that the Aanloop Molengat cargo--whether consigned by Adriaen Pauw's relations or not--did not come any further than the place where it was discovered three and a half centuries later. Nevertheless, the ship and the cargo can historically be linked to the destinations indicated with blue arrows in Fig. 4. There seems to be little reason not to cite them as 'verifiable links'.


The discussion above discloses a wide range of verifiable links between Africa, South-America, Eastern Europe, Central Europe, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and a shipwreck site in the North Sea. Although these links are specific for this particular site, it is probably very typical for any archaeological site and certainly for any archaeological site originating in shipwreck that a wide variety of verifiable links exist or can be supposed to have existed. A ship, after all, is basically involved in 'linking' and verifiably so.

Equally typical, however, is another aspect. Processes of discovery and archaeological analysis do not permit the establishment of a overview of 'verifiable links' before they start or before they have run their course to a consolidated conclusion. The point is concisely made by O'Keefe, (33) but becomes fully evident in the Aanloop Molengat example. Moreover, specific--and very important--links may be missed or interpreted wrongly. The destination can be particularly awkward to ascertain. But none of the other links that may prove verifiable if intensive research is undertaken will present themselves indisputably. In the case of Aanloop Molengat the location of Hondschoote as the production centre for part of the cargo became evident at a very late stage in the analysis of the find material. That can be said to be a contingency in the research history. The cloth seals are clear enough, but the coat of arms of this city, unlike those of Delft, Leiden and Mons, were simply not recognised until late in the research. The same in a way is true for Saxony as the mining area producing part of the high quality tin. It was only late in the process that quality seals attributable to actual Saxon mines were recognised. But here, some further elaboration is needed. When the site was first discovered and reported, it was the non-ferrous metals that held the discoverers' attention. Lead ingots had stamps, but these were not easily recognisable; the seals on the tin sheets conversely had clear text in German, for instance: 'SEIFFEN*ZIN*VON*DER*PLATEN'. At the time the inference was that this referred to the town of Seiffen in the mining district of Saxony, southwest of Chemnitz (Karl Marx Stadt in those years). Consequently, an information letter and information request was sent by the Netherlands authorities to the Embassy of the German Democratic Republic. In other words, a State with a (supposed) verifiable link was officially informed. Later, in 1988, the general provenance and probable quality ('Drei-Zeichen-Zinn') was established with the help of the Sektion Bergbauforschung des Kulturbundes der DDR, Ortsgruppe Seiffen: 'Seiffen' does not refer to the town in Saxony, but 'Platen' refers to Homi Blatna on the southern flank of the Erzgebirge/Krusne Hory (Ore Mountains), in the present-day Czech Republic (then Czechoslovakia), which was called 'Platten' under Bohemian rule. So the verifiable link with the DDR effectively disappeared. It was only in 2010 that material that actually originated from the German side of the ore-mountains was indisputably recognised in the excavated material. Incidentally, the purity and thus quality of the produce was at the exact same level as the Bohemian tin, a fact which ended a dispute that had arisen between Czech and German researchers earlier in the course of the research. (34)

What the research history also showed is that a verifiable link does indeed inspire debate and interest a long distance from the site where the heritage was discovered. In the instance of raw materials, intermediate and half-fabricated products as shipped and preserved in sunken cargo may well present one of the few opportunities to recognise, research and identify with original produce. It is no wonder, therefore, that more or at least as much seems to have been written about the Aanloop Molengat discovery in the Polish, German and Czech press than in the popular press in the Netherlands. While in this case the cargo was shipped from the Netherlands, it makes no sense to exclude the areas of production from the range of verifiable links adhering to the site, and for that very reason. Moreover, the fact that the ship was indeed Dutch became apparent only when construction had been addressed and a dendrochronological sample had been analysed. It was not a given at the start when measures Vo preserve underwater cultural heritage for the benefit of humanity ' needed to be taken.


As the Aanloop Molengat site lies in territorial waters, it was clear from the time of discovery that it was up to the Netherlands Vo regulate and authorize activities directed at underwater cultural heritage', to use the formulation of the 2001 Convention that did not exist at the time. The Netherlands did so by a policy decree that was later embedded in law, and it did so by starting a multi-year research operation that included the local discoverers as important stakeholders. Later, and very gradually it became evident that the Netherlands could also be considered as the 'State of origin', even though many political rearrangements had occurred since 1635 and that the 'cultural, historical or archaeological origin ' is to be interpreted as being much wider. It also, and again very gradually, became evident that other verifiable links exist with Africa, South-America, Eastern Europe, Central Europe, Poland, the Czech Republic, Germany, possibly Sweden, France and Belgium. These links are relevant to the economic and political histories of those areas and to the comparative history of economic and technical development in general. In fact, other verifiable links may have gone unnoticed, but the analytic treatment of the site and the body of information relating to it makes it unlikely that such links will manifest themselves in the future. What has been missed has simply been missed.

In the discovery of an archaeological site at sea, it is relatively easy to establish a verifiable link with the coastal State, with the State of registration of the vessel with which the discovery was made and with the State of nationality of the discoverer. To establish other verifiable links is another matter. The network of links encapsulated in a site is so complex, that their disclosure becomes relatively contingent. Preconceptions cannot be avoided, but will not necessarily point in the right direction. Also, the disclosure is contingent to the intensity and quality of research allotted to the site. But any decision on the site's significance for research, protection and enjoyment needs to be taken well in advance of extensive on-site research. This may be less of an issue for substantial shipwreck-sites relating to the twentieth and late nineteenth century of which the records and maps of hydrographical offices have kept track since their demise, but it is certainly true for earlier wreck-sites, as the example of the Aanloop Molengat illustrates.

A practical consequence is that it is basically up to coastal States to develop a policy for dealing with discoveries not only in their in internal waters, archipelagic waters and territorial sea, but also in the exclusive economic zone and on the continental shelf. The obligations to inform other States can be fulfilled in general terms from the very beginning, but the specific targeting of States with a verifiable link can only develop gradually. Likewise, declarations of interest must be taken seriously from the very start; even if they can only be built on provisional evidence. Even though declarations of interest from other States will enhance the significance of taking appropriate measures, no consistent protection, research and management will develop if coastal States take the approach to make their policies dependent on them. In principle, they should be prepared to act as 'co-ordinating State'.

For the Area, the situation is different, as no coastal States exist. Unavoidably, the only verifiable links that will be firmly established at the time of any new discovery are the State of registration of the discovering vessel and the State whose national reports the discovery. Sometimes, and notably again in relation to wreck-sites that result from the sinking of substantial ships during the last two centuries, other verifiable links may rapidly be in evidence. But the complex network of verifiable links embedded in a site will not. It is hard to envisage that all relevant verifiable links can be taken into account at the time when the first decisions need to be taken. A decision of consequence is the choice of a co-ordinating State amongst those who have declared an interest. Unavoidably, this decision needs to be taken on the basis of very fragmentary evidence. Waiting until all or even the most important verifiable links have become evident is not in the interest of protecting the heritage 'for the benefit of humanity as a whole', which is the basis for the co-ordinating State to act 'on behalf of all States Parties'. It is probably fair to say that where the Area is concerned, the principles are clearly set out, but that the system will need elaboration in practice. So far, the meeting of States Parties to the 2001 Convention has not really addressed these issues in any more detail. But it is clear that in due time States Parties need to make the choice whether they want to act as co-ordinating State in relation to heritage that will be found in the area, and develop a policy on the way that they would fulfil that role. This is particularly relevant for those States Parties likely to be confronted with reports on discoveries in the area. In that sense, it is interesting that considerable numbers of survey and operational vessels in the offshore industry worldwide fly the flag of States such as Panama or St Vincent and the Grenadines, States that have ratified the Convention.


The present article owes much to discussions with many involved in the preparation, negotiation and implementation of the 2001 Convention, but likewise to a great number of people that contributed to the Aanloop Molengat fieldwork and subsequent research. It is to the memory of Peter Stassen (1958), however, that I dedicate this article. He was the first assistant to join me in what became the department of underwater archaeology (AAO); he was with me when I was first shown the Aanloop Molengat site by its discoverers on 13 July 1985 and through many years of operational and policy-related work after that. He passed away in the Netherlands on 13 Sept. 2013, whilst I was in Denmark working on this text which holds so many joint memories and verifiable links.

(1) Sarah Dromgoole, Underwater Cultural Heritage and International Law. (2013, Cambridge).

(2) Thijs J. Maarleveld, ch. 8, 'The Netherlands' in: Sarah Dromgoole (ed.), The Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage. National Perspectives in Light of the UNESCO Convention 2001, (2006, Martinus Nijhoff, Leiden / Boston), pp. 161188. Th.J. Maarleveld, U. Guerin & B. Egger (eds), Manual for Activities directed at Underwater Cultural Heritage. A guide on the Rules annexed to the UNESCO 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage. (2013, Paris, UNESCO), available at: <>.

(3) Thijs J. Maarleveld and A.B.M. Overmeer, 'Aanloop Molengat--Maritime archaeology and intermediate trade during the Thirty Years' War' (2012) 4 Journal of Archaeology in the Low Countries, pp. 95-149. (<http://dpc.uba.uva.n1/cgi/t/text/ get-pdf?c=jalc;idno=0401a04> accessed 5-9-2013).

(4) Once in Art. 6, Art.7, Art. 9 and Art. 11, and twice in Art. 18 of the Convention.

(5) B. Jeffery, ch. 1 in Dromgoole above, note 2, pp. 1-15. Maarleveld, above, note 2.

(6) O. Varmer, J. Gray and D. Alberg, 'United States: Responses to the 2001 UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage', (2010) 5 Journal of Maritime Archaeology, 129-141 (DOI 10.1007/s11457-010-9070-1)

(7) R. Garabello, and T. Scovazzi (eds), The Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage. Before and After the 2001 UNESCO Convention, (2003, Martinus Nijhoff, Leiden/Boston).

8) Garabello and Scovazzi, above, note 7. Thijs J. Maarleveld, 'Early Modern Merchant Ships, Nicolaes Witsen and a Dutch-Flush Index' 2013, International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 42.2, 348-357 (doi: 10.1111/1095-9270.12022). Dromgoole, above, note 1.

(9) Dromgoole, above, note 1.

(10) Maarleveld, above, note 8.

(11) Maarleveld and Overmeer, above, note 3.

(12) J.G. Van Dillen, Bronnen tot de geschiedenis van het bedrijfsleven en gildewezen van Amsterdam (1929-1974, RGP, Den Haag).

(13) N.W. Posthumus, De geschiedenis van de Leidsche Lakenindustrie (1939, Nijhoff, Den Haag). E. Coomaert, La draperie-sayetterie d'Hondschoote (XlVe-XVIIIe siecles). Un centre industriel d'autrefois (1930, Paris).

(14) T. Terhorst, Stageverslag Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed Afdeling Scheepsarcheologie 2011, Lelystad/Amsterdam (internal report RCE, UVA).

(15) D. Molenda, 'Polski Olow na Rynkach Europy Srodkowej w XIII-XVII Wieku', Studia i Materiafy z Historii Kultury Materialnej LXIX, (2001, Warszawa).

(16) C. Joosten, and J. Nienhuis, Slakinsluitsels in een smeedijzeren baaruit het 17e eeuwse scheepswrak Aanloop Molengat, 2011, Amsterdam/Amersfoort (internal report RCE).

(17) N. Witsen, Aeloude en Hedendaegsche Scheeps-bouw en Bestier, (1671, Amsterdam).

(18) J.J Poelhekke, 1953: Politieke ontwikkeling der Republiek onder Frederik Hendrik tot 1643 Algemene Geschiedenis der Nederlanden (AGN) VI, pp. 231-260. J.I. Israel, The Dutch Republic. Its Rise, Greatness and Fall. (1995, OUP, Oxford).

(19) G. Pages, La guerre de trente ans, 1618-1648, (1972, Payot, Paris).

(20) H. Houtman-Desmedt, 'De Eindfase van de oorlog in het Zuiden 1633-1648' Algemene Geschiedenis der Nederlanden (1979, NAGN) 6, pp. 385-395. P. Deyon, 'La France Baroque, 1589-1661', in Duby, Histoire de la France (2011, Larousse, Paris) pp. 513-558.

(21) Jacobs in Maarleveld and Overmeer, see note 3.

(22) J.R. Bruijn, 'Scheepvaart in de Noordelijke Nederlanden 1580-1650' Algemene Geschiedenis der Nederlanden (NAGN) 1980, 7, pp. 137-155.

(23) G. Casale, The Ottoman Age of Exploration, (2010, Oxford University Press, Oxford,).

(24) M. Ebben, Apocalyps en Siglo de Oro, 1598-1700. Hfdst. 5 in: R. Fagel & E. Storm (red.) Het land van Don Quichot. De Spanjaarden en hun geschiedenis, pp. 127-166. (2011, Athenaeum--Polak & Van Gennep, Amsterdam)

(25) K. Glamann, 'European Trade 1500-1700', in: C.M. Cipolla (ed.), The Fontana Economic History of Europe. Vol.2, The Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, (1974, Collins/Fontana, Glasgow) pp. 427-526.

(26) S. Chirikure, A. Sinamai, E. Goagoses, M. Mubusisi and W. Ndoro, 'Maritime Archaeology and Trans-Oceanic Trade: A Case Study of the Oranjemund Shipwreck Cargo', (2010, Namibia), Journal of Maritime Archaeology 5: 37-55 (DOI 10.1007/ s11457-010-9059-9).

(27) E. Fernandez de Pinedo Fernandez, 'Antecedentes de la Mineria Espanola Contemporanea: La Mineria en la Corona de Castilla (1515-1715)', in : M.A. Perez de Perceval Verde, M.A. Lopez-Morell & A. Sanchez Rodriguez (eds) 2007, Mineria y Desarrollo Economico en Espana, (2007, Sintesis, Madrid), 47-68.

(28) P. Deyon, 'La France Baroque', 1589-1661, in Duby, Histoire de la France (2011, Larousse, Paris), pp. 513-558.

(29) Pages, see note 19.

(30) P. Geyl, Geschiedenis van de Nederlandse Stam. Deel I (Tot 1648) Herziene Uitgaaf. (Wereldbibliotheek, Amsterdam/Antwerpen, 1948), available at <>.

(31) Ibid..

(32) J. Presser, De tachtigjarige oorlog, (1975, Elsevier, Amsterdam/Brussel), p. 217 et seq.

(33) P.J. O'Keefe, Shipwrecked Heritage: A Commentary on the UNESCO Convention on the Underwater Cultural Heritage, (2nd edn, 2014, Institute of Art and Law) p. 66.

(34) Terhorst, see above, note 14.

Thijs J. Maarleveld, Professor of Maritime Achaeology at the University of Southern Denmark, where he leads the Maritime Archaeology Programme.

Table 1. The total weight of the Aanloop Molengat cargo is around
550 to 600 tons. This translates into 280-303 last, to use the
measure of the day, if we accept the proposition that a last is
1.975 tons. It is the best approximation of the size class of the
ship as built and outfitted for the purpose of this shipment.

Measured weight Aanloop Molengat cargo

Pins                                       --
Cloth                                       ?
Wrought iron products               >1 500 kg
Cast iron products                 >16 000 kg
Leather                              2 000 kg
Ivory                                  100 kg
Tin                                  1 600 kg
Lead                       30 000 - 50 000 kg
Iron/steel               510 000 - 570 000 kg
Mercury                                375 kg
Total                   >550 000 - 600 000 kg
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Author:Maarleveld, Thijs J.
Publication:Art Antiquity & Law
Date:Jul 1, 2014
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