US funds to preserve South Asia’s oldest shipwreck in SL sea

The US will fund the preservation of the Godawaya, the oldest known shipwreck in the Indian Ocean and Asia-Pacific region.

US Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Julie Chung on Tuesday announceed the awarding of a $82,192 grant to document and conserve the Godawaya shipwreck located near the island nation’s southernmost Hambantota Port.

The grant given to Sri Lanka’s Central Cultural Fund preserve comes from the US Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation.

Discovered by two Sri Lankan divers, the artefacts of the Godawaya include a mound of corroded metal bars and a scattering of other ancient cargo, including glass, ingots and pottery.

“By documenting the important role that Sri Lanka has played as a hub for the Indo-Pacific region’s travelers and traders from its earliest days, the US hopes to help preserve and promote Sri Lanka’s magnificent cultural heritage,” Ambassador Chung said at a ceremony held at the Maritime Archeological Museum in Galle.

A statement issued by the US Embassy in Colombo said: “The documentation and conservation funded through the grant will be undertaken by the Central Cultural Fund’s Maritime Archaeology Unit. Documentation of the site and engagement with US experts on Indo-Pacific trade routes and shipwrecks will increase global understanding trade in the Indo-Pacific and especially Sri Lanka’s role in this rich history.”

The recording of the internationally recognized site and preservation of objects already exposed on the seabed floor will be shared with Sri Lankan scholars as well as secondary and university-aged students by the Maritime Archaeology Unit’s Galle and Colombo lab.

Once the project is completed, the artefacts will also be on display to the public in the Maritime Archeological Museum, the Embassy statement added.

Since 2001, the US Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation has funded 15 projects in Sri Lanka, totaling assistance of $1,387,294.

These include documentation of the Western monasteries at the World Heritage Site of Anuradhapura; conservation of the Rajagala Buddhist forest monastery; preservation of Buddhist, Hindu and other collections in the Anuradhapura Archaeological Museum; restoration of the Batticaloa Dutch Fort; preservation of the ritual music and dance forms of the Adivasi, Tamil, and Buddhist communities; and the conservation of a 17th century Kandyan Kings’ Palace in Kandy.

20221213-151403

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