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Marine Archaeological Explorations

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Marine archaeological explorations undertake collection of information on the local marine archaeological sites, exploration of such places, reporting and protection measures an such places and archaeological impact assessment surveys prior to commencement of development projects along the local sea coast.

During the explorations attention is paid to sunken ships, ports and settlement buried in the sea and all physical things left by the ancient man.

Antiquities discovered by the archaeological excavations carried out on the high land bear testimony to the foreign relationship Sri Lankan had since pre-Christian era.

Sri Lanka had been an island even before 10,000 years. In maintaining foreign relationships for thousands of years Sri Lanka had used Sea vessels. At the same time Sri Lanka has many natural historical seaports around the country. As a result of the changes that take place in the mean sea level ancient ports and human settlements have been buried in the sea. Such buried objects and sunken ships mainly create archaelogical sites at the bottom of the sea.

Sri Lanka is situated in a central point of an ancient international sea route in the Indian Ocean which bridged the East and the West and there fore it is possible that there can be numerous archaeological sites in the sea coast, around Sri Lanka which provide data to study the activities of the ancient man.

Marine archaeology helps study the activities of the ancient man with the help of antiquities deposited at the bottom of the sea.

The Law Relating to Marine Archaeological Explorations.

Sub section 3 of Section 2 of the Antiquities Ordinance No.09 of 1940 as amended by the Antiquities (Amendment) Act No. 24 of 1998 vests the ownership of antiquities lying along the sea coast of Sri Lanka in the Director General of Archaeology.

How Marine Archaeological Explorations are Carried out

  • Obtaining information from fishermen
  • Exploration of historical ports using the magneto meter and the Side Scan Senar equipment.
  • Diving and exploring bottom of the sea by Archaeological officers who are trained in diving.
  • Detailed recording of sites using plans, photography and video filming with latitudes and longitudes of locations.
  • Maintenance of archaeological documents.

Protection of Archaeological Sites Along the Local Sea Cost

Section 15 of the Antiquities Ordinance No. 09 of 1940 as amended by the Antiquities (Amendment) Act No. 24 of 1998 applied.

Procedure for Preventing the Destruction of Marine Antiquities

Steps have to be taken against the destruction of antiquities found in the local sea coast in the same manner applicable to steps taken against the destruction of antiquities on the highland.

Destruction of ships which were sunk in the local sea more than 100 years ago using dynamite or in other ways and bringing parts of such ships or other antiquities to the land without prior authority from the Director General of Archaeology are the destructions of antiquities that take place in large scale.

Telephone Numbers to Which Such Destructions Should b e Reported:

Director General of Archaeology - Telephone


. +94-112-696250
Assistant Director (Movable and Immovable Property) - Telephone +94-112-696514
Mr. Palitha Weerasinghe (Regional Excavation Officer)
Western Regional Office
- +94-112-692840/41
. - Extension - 504
G.A.D. Samanthilaka (Archaeological Research Assistant) - Telephone +94-112-696514
. +94-112-692840/41
. - Extension - 212
Special unit for Preventing Destruction of Antiquities - Telephone +94-117-222333
. +94-112-692840/41
. - Extension - 213
Special Police Post for the Prevention of Destruction of Antiquities - Telephone +94-112-694727

Sri Lanka Navy performs a special task in preventing destruction of antiquities in the local sea coast.
Commending Officer of the Southern Province
Southern Navy Camp
Sri Lanka Navy

Telephone - +94-91- 2267130
Fax - +94-91- 2239560

Archaeological Impact Assessment Surveys
Clearing of lands for construction or expansion of ports and harbours in the local sea coast and carrying out archaeological impact assessment surveys before causing damage to bottom of the sea should be undertaken by the Project Proposer.
The law relating to this matter and furthers information on the procedure are given under the Archaeological Impact Assessment Surveys.

Organization Information

Department of Archaeology

Sir Marcus Frenando Mawatha,
Colombo 07.

Mrs. W.R. J. Vasana Pramachandraa
Telephones:+94 11 2 692840 / 41
Fax Nos:+94 11 2 696514

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Last Updated On: 2009-10-29 17:13:43
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