AMLA of the University Kiel (Germany)

AMLA of the University Kiel (Germany)


AMLA, which stands short for „Working Group of maritime and limnic Archaeology“, was founded in 1997. The members of AMLA are European Scientific Divers, and are mostly archaeologists on different levels of education, but there also members from related sciences like biology, geology or oceanography.

Photos by Florian Huber

The primary task of the AMLA is to conduct research on the Underwater Cultural Heritage and bring it more into focus of the terrestrial archaeology. On the other hand the AMLA wants to create a public awareness of the Underwater Cultural Heritage, which is endangered due to the building of pipelines, offshore windparks and the deepening of rivers for economic purposes. Another important aim is the education of the next generation of archaeologists in the special conservation situation underwater and the training of methods for excavation, investigation and interpretation in Maritime and Underwater Archaeology.

The maritime and freshwater environment of Schleswig-Holstein has 1190 kilometres of coastline at both seas, about 360 lakes and 21,700 kilometres of river stretches. Human populations and communities who lives here over the last 20.000 years used these water bodies to provide themselves with food, transportation routes and for borders. Besides conducting research projects in German waters, members of the AMLA also carried out projects in the caves of Yucatan in Mexiko, the Golf of Mexico, in a lake in Norway, some wells in Southern Germany and made an Excursion to the sunken Roman City of Baiae near Naples.

  • Pic by Uli Kunz
  • Pic by Florian Huber
  • Pic by Jana Ulrich
  • Pic by Uli kunz

The majority of AMLA members were trained as Scientific Divers by the Centre for Scientific Diving at the Institute of Geology at the Christian-Albrechts-University. Another cooperation exists with IFM GEOMAR Institute, which allows the AMLA to conduct regular fild trips with the research vessels FB Polarfuchs and FK Littorina into the Kiel Fjord, to survey, monitor and document wrecks. Together with the Lighthouse Foundation the AMLA has built an archaeological park underwater, where students and recreational divers can be trained in proper diving methods at archaeological sites. The AMLA maintains a close cooperation with the State Department of Archaeology and the State Museum in Schleswig. Over the past decade members of the AMLA took part in projects from the Lower Saxony Institute for Historical Coastal Research and the Maritime Archaeology Program of the University of Southern Denmark in Esbjerg.

As mentioned above the AMLA often pioneers research on wrecks in the area of Schleswig-Holstein, which leads to bachelor, master and PhD theses. The results of ongoing research, excavations and surveys of wrecks in the Kiel Fjord are shared during international conferences which are organised by the AMLA. Invitations of speakers and excursions to archaeological sites in other countries in Europe allow an international communication and understanding between various research groups.

Creating public awareness for the immense heritage under water is another focus of our research group. We are connected with local and national TV and radio stations and publish our work and a variety of magazines, book and newspapers. Public lectures and presentations at exhibitions and trade fairs result in a wide distribution of our research and sustainable working methods among scientists and the general public. In addition, recreational divers can attend workshops and seminars to be trained in adequate diving styles and investigation methods and to learn about their obligation once they spot an archaeological site during one of their dives.

Since 2004, the working group‘s internet site is available at The visitor will fid general information as well as news about on-going research projects and articles of completed excavations.

Photos by Jana Ulrich

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