The Centre for Underwater Archaeology (CUA) is a National Cultural Institute, an independent legal entity on a subsidiary budget by the Minister of Culture of the Republic of Bulgaria. The main tasks of the Institute include the study, protection and management of underwater cultural heritage in the Bulgarian territorial waters and exclusive economic zone in the Black Sea as well as in the internal water basins of the Republic of Bulgaria.
Since its establishment in 1978 the CUA has been based in the town of Sozopol on the Southern Bulgarian Black Sea Coast. The Centre is the oldest of its kind on this side of the Iron Curtain and is also the first one to operate actively in the Black Sea Region.
During the 40-year long history of the CUA its scientists and specialists have been actively engaged in the study and protection of Bulgaria’s underwater heritage. The CUA was the host of the first scientific forum on Maritime History and Underwater Archaeology in the World – the international symposium “THRACIA PONTICA” and developed intensive fieldwork campaigns. The Centre played a decisive role in Bulgaria being one of the first countries worldwide to ratify the UNESCO Convention for the Protection of Underwater Heritage (2001) (link to convention website) and maintains strong contacts with an array of Bulgarian and international partner institutions.
Currently the CUA is engaged in research and cultural resource management. The Centre owns two survey vessels equipped with modern geophysical equipment and relies on an interdisciplinary team of experienced affiliated and honorary specialists, guaranteeing the realisation of a broad spectrum of scientific and technical maritime services. The CUA is the principal Bulgarian partner in the Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project (Black Sea MAP) – the largest and most ambitious endeavor of its kind ever undertaken Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project.