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Documentation of the underwater cultural heritage of Sri Lanka

This project, initiated by the Maritime Archaeology Unit and the Central Cultural Fund, and running from December 2013 to December 2014, is being performed with the support of the Maritime Programme.  One aspect of the project is the documentation of Dutch shipwrecks in northeast Sri Lanka. The civil war between the Tamil minority and Sinhalese majority made this region inaccessible to researchers for thirty years.

The first investigation was performed off the east coast in 2012. Fishers and local divers had reported shipwrecks in the area. Over 18 wrecks have already been documented. The project will also involve archive research in the Netherlands and Sri Lanka, to provide evidence for an exploration of the Jaffna area to identify any shipwrecks there, some of which may be related to the Netherlands’ East India Company (VOC) period. Another important phase of the project will involve the setting up of a national GIS database, with the help of the Maritime Programme, which has experience of setting up a similar database in the Netherlands.

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Asia

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