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May 2016: Resource availability study port of Cotonou (Benin)

In the scope of a masterplan study, conducted by Witteveen+Bos and Maritime & Transport Business Solutions B.V., for the potential development of the port of Cotonou, Delta Heritage & Archaeology carried out a study on the existence and accessibility of sources on the presence of maritime cultural heritage. 

Development of the port could have a serious impact on maritime cultural heritage, if present. A Desk Based Assessment (DBA) is a first step in determining whether or not maritime cultural heritage is known to exist in the research area and describes its archaeological potential. For a DBA, a wide range of sources (archival, historical, nautical, etc.) need to be consulted. Therefore, Delta Heritage & Archaeology carried our a thorough investigation on the availability and accessibility of such resources for the Cotonou area. Besides, we contacted Beninese and international key figures in the field of Beninese archaeology and (maritime) heritage.

The results show that there are ample historical and other resources available to conduct a succesful DBA. Moreover, considering historical seafaring routes, factories, and the presence of a fortification within or close to the research area, the port of Cononou should be regarded as an area with high (maritime) heritage potential. 

Benin 1889 www.gallica.bnf.fr

Bron: Carte des Établissements français du Golfe de Bénin / par Victor Ballot, administrateur principal des colonies,
résident de France au Bénin. 1889; lith. F. Appel, 12 rue du Delta, Paris (


February 2016: Masterplan study for the impact of development works in Cotonou harbour in Benin, West-Africa, on maritime cultural heritage

Commissioned by the Dutch Embassy in Benin,West-Africa, a Masterplan study is conducted for the potential development of the main port of Benin, Cotonou. If this expansion of the harbour will take place, it will imply a great impact on the seabed, since there will be extensive dredging and construction works in the Cotonou harbour, its shores and at sea.

One of the aspects which should be considered for the Masterplan, is the potential impact on any present maritime cultural heritage, including - but not limited to - shipwrecks, drowned settlements and historical anchorages. This is obviously of great importance to Benin, after all, it involves its own (maritime) history, culture and identity. In 2011 Benin signed the UNESCO 2001 Convention for the protection of maritime cultural heritage.

Delta Heritage & Archaeology, the joint venture between MR&C and ADC ArcheoProjecten, has been asked to do a first research of the existence and availability of (written) sources on the presence of maritime cultural heritage. Also we will investigate where opportunities lie for social investment/social return in the area of cultural heritage and archaeology.


DH&A project Benin 

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