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 Post subject: Dutch boost for underwater archaeology
 Post Posted: Tue Mar 15, 2005 5:00 am 
Dutch boost for underwater archaeology

[Daily Mirror: 15MAR2005]

The Cultural Emergency Response (CER), of the Prince Claus Fund (PCF) based in the Netherlands has pledged euro 25,000 for the immediate resumption of work on the Maritime Archaeological Unit in Galle.

The Maritime Archaeological Unit is working on a number of underwater archaeological sites, including the Dutch East India Company ship 'Avondster'. Twelve years ago, work began with a view to establishing a Maritime Archaeological Museum, in collaboration with other institutions, including the Amsterdam Historical Museum, with financial support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, a PCF press release said.

The Unit is also a training centre for underwater archaeological divers and curators. The first Sri Lankan team of experts have just completed training when the tsunami struck and needs to start the recovery of the objects that have been lost, without delay.

The CER offers worldwide emergency relief in the event of damage to or destruction of cultural property from man-made or natural disasters. By furnishing speedy cultural assistance, CER also aims to draw attention to the value of cultural heritage and to underline the seriousness of cultural need.

With this pledge from CER, the Sri Lankan underwater archaeological team can resume its work. In Galle, 23,000 houses were destroyed and in the context of the current relief effort, it is not possible to provide short-term accommodation for people from out of town, such as the experts. If the team does not stay together in Galle, the future of the Maritime Archaeological Unit and underwater archaeology in Sri Lanka will be endangered. The discipline is important, not just for Dutch-Sri Lankan heritage, but other shared histories too. CER's donation, not only means that the team can be housed, but moreover, allow the experts, divers and curators to commence the professional retrieval of artifacts, including the canon and anchor of the 'Avondster'. Appropriate containers with lids will be purchased; recovered objects need to be conserved in fresh water in closed containers to prevent health risks. Open, stagnant fresh water is the habitat of the' zebra mosquito' that can transfer break bone fever.

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