Figure 1. The coat of arms of the VOC over the inside entrance of Galle Fort.
The following papers were presented at a seminar held at Nooit Gedacht, Galle on 15 November 1997.
The seminar was the initiative of Robert Parthesius, who suggested that a seminar would present an ideal opportunity to discuss the objectives and progress of the Galle Harbour Project. Various members of the team worked together to develop the programme and to arrange for representatives from various institutions to attend the seminar. The Galle Harbour project has a complex history and the programme was intended to familiarise the participants with these developments. The opportunity was taken to show the latest discoveries of the project and to demonstrate some of the techniques and methods used during the project.
The organisers would like to thank Dr Siran Deraniyagala and the Archaeology Department for hosting the lunch and to the owner and staff of Nooit Gedacht for providing the venue.
10:00 Welcome - S.U. DERANIYAGALA
10:15 Underwater archaeology in Sri Lanka 1960–1997 - GIHAN JAYATILAKA
10:30 Galle Harbour Project 1992–1997 - JEREMY GREEN
10.45 Wrecks and Archives: historical-archaeological research - ROBERT PARTHESIUS
11:30 Training programme - RUKSHAN AMAL JAYEWARDENE
11:45 Conservation - JON CARPENTER
12:00 Excursion to:
Galle Maritime conservation laboratory - NERINA DE SILVA
Stone anchors - SOMASIRI DEVENDRA
15:00 A preliminary pilot project: Black Fort: a plan to give a future to the past - LODEWIJK WAGENAAR
15:15 Galle Fort: centre of craftsmanship, knowledge and public awareness - YPIE ATTEMA
15:30 A heritage field school and public accessible excavation in Galle - ROBERT PARTHESIUS
15:45 The future of maritime archaeology in the Bay of Galle - JEREMY GREEN
MARITIME ARCHAEOLOGY IN SRI LANKA 1960–1997
By virtue of its strategic geographical position at the centre of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka has long attracted seafarers from East and West for trade, plunder, and conquest. The extensive reef system which protects the island’s shores caused grief to a considerable number of ships from ancient times up to this century.
WWW Virtual Library Sri LankaA conservative estimate of the number of wrecks around the island is two hundred, which makes it an undisputed paradise for the pursuit of maritime archaeology. The earliest recorded attempt of a scientific maritime archaeological survey was by Peter Throckmorton (Expedition: Bulletin of the University Museum of Pennsylvania, 1964), who together with Professor George Bass laid the foundations for maritime archaeology as a science. Throckmorton’s visit to Sri Lanka preceded the discovery of a historic shipwreck at the Great Basses Reef near Kirinda in the southeast extremity of the island by Mike Wilson (Clarke, 1963). Accurate site plans and a general description of the site were made and verified by the Sri Lanka–Australia Maritime Archaeology Project.
A long period of inactivity came to an end in 1986, when a Sri Lankan archaeologist, Prasanna Weerasinghe, brought together local archaeologists and divers in an attempt to create a formal maritime archaeology programme. The Sri Lankan Sub-Aqua Club (SLSAC), formed about this time, contributed expertise for initial surveys and random sampling in Galle Harbour (Jayatilaka, 1993). A very rare Chinese Southern Sung Dynasty celadon bowl was discovered by the SLSAC off site A in Galle Harbour.
A resolution calling for the formation of a maritime archaeological unit, made at the Centenary Celebrations of the Archaeology Department in 1990, resulted in a dialogue between Dr. Roland Silva, Prof. Senake Bandaranayake and Prof. Ken McPherson, which brought about the first formal Sri Lankan–Australian maritime archaeological research and training project in 1992 and included the Department of Archaeology, Central Cultural Fund, Post-Graduate Institute of Archaeology, Department of National Museums, SLSAC and MHT.
The 1997 Project was initiated by the Honourable Lakshman Jayakody, Minister of Cultural Affairs, as a concerted effort to rescue the multitude of historically significant underwater finds made by the Project in Galle Harbour since 1992. The Cabinet approved the budget for this year’s project, as the proposed Galle Harbour Development and Expansion Plan would destroy part of the underwater cultural heritage of Galle Harbour, consisting of over 21 historical shipwreck sites and associated artefacts.
A strong emphasis is placed on the Maritime Conservation Laboratory which is coming up in Galle for the treatment and preservation of artefacts and it is envisaged that the National Maritime Museum in Galle will be developed into a fully fledged Maritime Archaeology Centre—probably the first in the region. A significant development this year is the official involvement of the Government of the Netherlands in the project.
Figure 3. A bronze gun from the Great Basses site.NEXT PAGE