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NAS courses

NAS courses are suitable for recreational and sport divers interested in the past as well as archaeologists and historians - particularly students, who aim to specialise in underwater archaeology. These courses, which are mostly held on the weekends, are progressive and encompass practical training lessons and theoretical basic knowledge.

The following information relates to the old training regulations. For beginners from June 2019 a new training regulation applies, which can currently only be read on the German version of this page.


NAS intro: These courses introduce the participants to the policies of the protection of our underwater heritage and its archaeology. The participants shall be sensitised for the importance and susceptibility of the underwater cultural heritage. They learn the most important groups of maritime heritage sites.


NAS I: These courses build on the introductory course. It encompasses the following themes and exercises: The history of underwater archaeology, legislation and the protection of heritage, positioning of sites, search methods, surveying techniques, documentation, dating methods and methods of conservation.


NAS II: After the basics, the participants of this practical orientated module carry out a survey and write a report of the results. Moreover it is expected to develop awareness of broader activity in maritime archaeology by attending of two relevant conferences.


NAS III: The course is constructed on a modular basis:

  1. Research and Information Technology - Computer Aided Design, GIS Programmes, Social History of Ships, Numismatics (Coins!), Documentary Research, Video Post-Production and DVD Authoring
  2. Archaeological Science - Dendrochronology, Environmental Archaeology, Osteoarchaeology (Bones!)
  3. Survey - Archaeological Search Methods, Geophysics, Position Fixing, Advanced Diving
  4. Excavation - Underwater Excavation Methods
  5. Recording - Archaeological Illustration, Photography, Timber Recording, Metal Wreck Recording
  6. Conservation - Finds Handling, Finds Display and Curation, Conservation for Marine Finds
  7. Ancient Technology - Ancient Tool Making, Flint Knapping, Curragh Building, Rope and Cordage
  8. Managing Archaeology - Managing Archaeological Projects, Achieving Publication, Environmental Impact Assesment, Popular Publications for Archaeology

The training is completed, when 100 credit points in total are collected in at least 6 different modules. There is no set time limit. The DEGUWA offers NAS III trainings pointing out the certain modules. You may also obtain credits by attending courses organised by others. Please consult yout senior tutor in advance. 


NAS IV: This is an additional training-module. The primary objective is to provide a certification level for a field-worker capable of supervising a work programme on an archaeological site or running their own project. This level of the Training Programme does not involve further formal teaching, however advice and guidance will be provided at any stage. Requirements are:

  • to have worked on at least three different archaeological sites for a minimum of twelve weeks (60 days) in total since completing the Introdction Course
  • to have completed a project report to publication standard

    For further information on the training scheme have look at Nautical Archaeological Society (NAS).

    Please note: The NAS training scheme does not replace a degree in underwater archaeology or maritime archaeology. It encompasses, however, exacting content on underwater archaeology in theory and practise and can form a valuable contribution parallel to archaeological studies.


    The DEGUWA is licensee of the NAS training scheme in Germany. Sabrina Wittka coordinates the NAS-training scheme in Germany,  Email:


    The training scheme of the Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS)


    The establishment of the NAS-training scheme was the consequence of one of the most resounding projects in the young history of underwater archaeology:

    Portsmouth 1986 - since fourteen years a fistfull of archaeologists and hundreds of volunteer divers have been excavating the wreck of MARY ROSE - a warship of the English crown. More precisely, it was even the favourite ship of the English monarch Henry VIII, which capsized in 1545 during a battle with a French fleet off Southsea and went down with almost all hands. The wreck was salvaged and is being conserved today in Portsmouth. The enormeous number of finds from the wreck have been studied up to the present day.



    At a time, when only a small part of the excavation results were evaluated, one thing was aleady clear: Extensive underwater archaeological projects require a great number of volunteers. During the project many sport and recreational divers were introduced into the working techniques by archaeologists. What happened at first within an improvised setting, was to assume more concrete shape, which proceedures and requirements became gradually standardised: The four-step NAS training scheme has emerged!

    Today NAS training is offered, apart from Great Britain, also in Argentinia (PROAS), Australia and Southeast Asia (AIMA), Germany (DEGUWA), France (DRASSM), Canada (UASBC), Portugal (CNANS), South Africa (SAHRA) and the USA (US National Parcs) and is on the way to become established as a common standard. The ICOMOS International Scientific Committee for the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (ICUCH) has commissioned the Nautical Archaeology Society to devise a training programme, which could be adopted on an international scale.


    update: 8.9.2015

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