International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property
Sebastiano Tusa, 1952 – 2019

Sebastiano Tusa, 1952 – 2019

Sebastiano Tusa, 1952 – 2019
© Renato Alongi, CC BY-SA 4.0

Sebastiano Tusa, head of the Coordination Service for Underwater Archaeological Research (Servizio per il Coordinamento delle Ricerche Archeologiche Sottomarine, SCRAS), has died.  He was on board Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 that crashed outside Addis Ababa on 10 March.  Dr Tusa was en route to a UNESCO-organized conference on underwater archaeological heritage held in Malindi, Kenya on 11 March.

In addition to his work for SCRAS, Dr Tusa was Councillor for cultural heritage in the Sicilian Region, and a well-known archaeologist at the international level. Before holding the office of Councillor, Tusa headed the Superintendence of the Sea (Soprintendenza del Mare) of the Sicilian Region, an institution he established in 2004.  He was also professor of paleontology at the Suor Orsola Benincasa University of Naples, and held political office in the Sicilian regional administration.

Educated at La Sapienza University of Rome, Dr Tusa was deeply involved in the archaeology of Sicily, heading excavations in the province of Trapani, particularly at the site of Mozia, and on the island of Pantelleria. He also participated in foreign archaeological missions in Iran, Iraq and Pakistan.

Over past decades, Tusa’s contacts with ICCROM centred on development issues related to cultural heritage, and particularly on underwater cultural heritage.  In 2003, Tusa participated with ICCROM representatives in the International Conference on Cooperation in the Mediterranean for the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage, held in Syracuse, Italy.  An outcome of this conference was the establishment of a regional agreement safeguarding underwater cultural heritage in the Mediterranean region.

Many victims of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash were affiliated with the United Nations, and were travelling to conferences located in Kenya, including a session of the Environment Assembly in Nairobi. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in expressing his condolences, commented: "Our colleagues were women and men, junior professionals and seasoned officials, hailing from all corners of the globe and with a wide array of expertise." Yet, he said, "they all had one thing in common: a spirit to serve the people of the world and to make it a better place for us all."

ICCROM sends deepest condolences to Dr Tusa’s family, friends and professional colleagues worldwide.