Maritime Archaeology

New Maritime Archaeological discoveries in Eastern Province in Sri Lanka: With special emphasis on Trincomale to Potuvil

AMA Dayananda and Mahinda Karunarathna, Maritime Archaeology Unit, Central Cultural Fund

Maritime Archaeology Unit (MAU) of Central Cultural Fund (CCF) is carried out an underwater Archaeological non disturbance exploration in the Eastern coastal area (From Trincomalee to Potuvill), 13th of July to 26th of August 2013. Drawing the measured and non measured drawings, photographical and video documentation, applying GPS and remote sensing are the used methods for the exploration.Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Pothuwil are the main selected areas for the survey.

MAU team discovered 16 shipwrecks and other 4 maritime archaeological sites after the survey. Irakkandi wreck at Nialwei, HMS   Diamade wreck at Uppuveli, Trincomalee, Lady Maculum wreck, British Sargent wreck, Pasikuda Iron wreck, Pasikuda Boilaer wreck I & II , Baticaloa Boiler wreck, SS Brunus wreck (Sakkara kappal/ Gragery Wreck),  Kalmune Boiler wreck at baticaloa and Akkaraipattu Boiler wreck, Tirkkovil Boiler wreck, Tirkkovil Iron wreck, Komari Boiler wreck, Omari Boiler wreck at Potuvare uncovered by the survey. The underwater archaeological site at Swami rock at Trincomalee, ancient stone bridge at Mayankerni, old Dutch jetty at, Pasikuda and Buddhist underwater archaeology site at Potuvil are explored and unearthed new information on underwater Archaeology.

History of the wrecks are going back to the Dutch  and British period of Sri Lanka and unearthed all wrecks are sunk in colonized era of Sri Lanka. Most of the wrecks are boiler wreck that built by the iron. An metal anchor and man made stone blocks are found from swami rock and Bow sections, stern , propeller and shaft, boilers, anchors are found from the wreck sites. Most of the wrecks are distorted by the treasure hunters .

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Preliminary assessment of an early historic (2000 year old) shipwreck at Godawaya, Sri Lanka

This article was first published in the “Bulletin of the Australasian Institute for Maritime Archaeology (2011), 35: 9–17″.  Published in archaeology.lk with the permission from  R. Muthucumarana

A.S. Gaur1, R. Muthucumarana2, W.M. Chandraratne2, B.C. Orillandeda3, M. Manders4, S. Karunarathna2, P. Weerasinghe2,
A.M.A. Dayananda2, T. Zainab5, A. Sudaryadi6, K.A.B.A. Ghani7, J. Wahjudin6, N. Samaraweera2.
1. National Institute of Oceanography (CSIR), Dona Paula Goa, India. Email:
2. Maritime Archaeology Unit, Central Cultural Fund, Fort, Gale, Sri Lanka.
3. Underwater Archaeology National Museum of the Philippines, P. Burgos Street. Manila 1000, Philippines.
4. Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed Smallepad 5, 3811 MG Amersfoort, The Netherlands.
5. Directorate of Coastal and Marine Affairs, Mina Bahari II Building, 7th Floor Jl. Medan Merdeka Timur No. 16, Jakarta-
Indonesia 10110.
6. Archaeology and History, JI. Letnan Jidun (Komplks Perkantoran, Serang, Banten 42115, Box Office 204, Indonesia.
7. Conservation and Archaeology Division, Level 1, Chulan Tower, Jalan Colony, 50450 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

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Figure 1. Map showing the location of the Godawaya shipwreck site

Figure 1. Map showing the location of the Godawaya shipwreck site

Introduction

An international team comprised of experts in diving and underwater archaeology from Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines participated in the assessment of a shipwreck at Godawaya, Sri Lanka. The main objective of the exploration was to make assessment of the wreck site based on the data generated during the fieldwork. The shipwreck is lying or trapped in an isolated reef (which virtually surrounded the wreck and only the northeastern part is exposed) in 31 m water depth. The observation of surface distribution suggests that the site is spread over an area of 40 m by 22 m. The important findings include various sizes of jars, carinated cooking vessels, quern stones and unidentified cargo and possible ship structure. The analysis of pottery retrieved earlier and observed during the present investigation suggests that the pottery is not similar to those found from the shipwrecks of the 10th century AD onwards. Comparative study of pottery and stone artefacts indicate a possible time bracket for this wreck to be between the 4th century BC and the 2nd century AD.

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Figure 2. Underwater Plan of the shipwreck site

Figure 2. Underwater Plan of the shipwreck site

Background information

In ancient times Godawaya was known as Godapavatapatanahathat is mentioned in a Brahmi inscription found in Godawaya (Falk 2001: 328) dated to the 2nd century AD (Roth et al. 2001: 296), and in Mahavamsa the etymological identifiable term ‘Gotapabbata’ is used (Geiger 1912: 255). There are two other Brahmi inscriptions reported from Godawaya area. The earliest archaeological evidence from Godawaya trace the history of this region from the Mesolithic period onward. The Mesolithic site is situated on the eastern bank of the river Walawe Ganga, on a raised hillock and a few projected boulders might have served as shelter for prehistoric people. The river merges with the sea immediately after the site. Godawaya is a small fishing village (Fig. 1), situated between Ambalantota and Hambantota near the mouth of the river Walawe Ganga that is the fourth biggest river of the country on the southern coast of Sri Lanka. However, the mouth of the river near Godawaya is blocked by sand deposit and now the river is debouching in the sea at Ambalantota 3 km west of Godawaya. Along the course of Walawe River a number of ancient settlements and monasteries such as Ridiyagama, Mahanavulupura and Ramba monastic complex have been either excavated or thoroughly explored. There are also reports on the discovery of Indo-Roman coins from this area (Burnett 1998).

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Figure 3. Large-sized jar seen on the wreck site

Figure 3. Large-sized jar seen on the wreck site

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Figure 4. Large-sized jar seen on the wreck site

Figure 4. Large-sized jar seen on the wreck site

A land excavation was conducted by the Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka and the German K.A.W.A. project in the last decade of the previous century.  After a series of explorations and excavations from 1994 at Godawaya some of the very significant structural remains such as a temple, harbour and an important inscription were unearthed (Ruth 1998). An inscription carved on a natural rock north of the Stupa states about a seaport situated at Godawaya (Falk 2001). The present paper deals with the underwater explorations at the wreck site off Godawaya that is lying in 32–33 m of water. The programme was jointly organized by the Central Cultural Fund of Sri Lanka, UNESCO and the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands. The preliminary investigation indicates that wreck may be a wooden-hulled vessel dated to the early historical period. On the basis of archaeological findings the date of the wreck will be discussed in detail.

Methodology

Three fibre boats were hired for the underwater inspection of the wreck site. These boats are 19 ft (5.79 m) long and 6 ft (1.82 m) wide. In the absence of any jetty or harbour in Godawaya, the boats were pushed manually into the sea and taken out every day. The exploration team is comprised of 10 full-time divers and 2 part-time (6 from abroad, 4 from the Maritime Archaeology Unit [/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][MAU] and 2 from Godawaya). Two members had underwater digital cameras for photography. Further, three sub teams were formed and each team consisted of 3 divers. Two divers worked on assigned tasks, while the job of third diver was to monitor the activity and dive times. Due to the absence of a decompression chamber at the site, dive bottom time was limited to 18 minutes, the maximum time allowed for a no-decompression dive. Two buoys were initially placed over the site; these also served as shot lines for diver entry and exit. Using a rope with a metre tape attached, a 50-m baseline was established on a bearing of 300°. The length was then divided into three divisions that served as the teams’ respective area of assignment. All observed archaeological features and cultural material were plotted using the offset method, and each artefact was described and measured (length, width and height). One team was tasked to do site photo-documentation using two digital cameras and one underwater video camera; recording on-site activities and take photographs of individual artefacts. The mound of timbers or planks on the northern side of the baseline was recorded in detail. Based on collected data, a preliminary site map was created.

Results

The site of the Godawaya shipwreck is situated about 4 km south-east of the Godawaya monastery and water depth varies between 29 m and 32 m. The seabed near the site is comprised of coralline rocky formation, whereas towards the north-eastern part of the site a wide area is covered with thick-grained coralline sand. The maximum height of the reef on the north-western part is approximately 1.5 m. No vegetation growth was observed at the site; however, in a few places gorgonian growth was noticed besides some marine pinkish layer on the rocks.

The measurements of the artefacts visible on the surface indicate that the site is spread in a 40 m east–west and 22 m north–south direction (Fig. 2). However, extension of the site may increase when surface sand is removed. Interestingly, at one place the removal of sand by hand fanning yielded a number of potsherds just below 10 cm in the sediment. Thus the actual extent of the site may be determined only after thorough examination of the site by the removal of surface sediments.

Numerous artefacts were observed on the seabed, including varieties of pottery, stone benches/querns, and a large area in the north-western part was covered with the remains of a shipwreck with unidentified cargo.
There are several potsherds lying on the wreck site area which comprise two huge storage jars (Figs 3 & 4), medium sized jars, carinated cooking vessel besides a number of rims of jars (Fig. 5) and body parts of other pots. The surviving height of two storage jars was 100 and 85 cm respectively and the diameter of the rims 45 and 40 cm respectively.

Figure 5. Rim of broken jar found on the wreck site

Figure 5. Rim of broken jar found on the wreck site

Figure 8. Glass ingot retrieved earlier from the wreck site.

Figure 8. Glass ingot retrieved earlier from the wreck site.

Figure 6. Stone bench/quern lying on the wreck site

Figure 6. Stone bench/quern lying on the wreck site

Figure 9. Main part of the wreck

Figure 9. Main part of the wreck

Figure 7. Stone bench/quern retrieved earlier from the wreck site

Figure 7. Stone bench/quern retrieved earlier from the wreck site

Figure 10. Stone bench/quern with Brahmi inscription displayed in Yatala site museum

Figure 10. Stone bench/quern with Brahmi inscription displayed in Yatala site museum

Another interesting find from the wreck site includes stone benches or querns (Fig. 6). There are four such artefacts and they are of various sizes (Table 1). A few stone benches were also found attached either to wreck parts or some other encrustation. Therefore, the actual size may be slightly different when measurements are obtained after retrieving the artefacts from the wreck. The benches are rectangular in shape with four legs which serve as a base.

Sr. no. Length(cm) Width(cm) Height(cm)
1. Displayed at Maritime Museum, Galle 37.5 15.5 16.5
2. Underwater (in situ) SB 1

30

viagra canadian pharmacy dosage

20

10

3. Underwater (in situ) SB 2

45

30

26

4. Underwater (in situ)SB 3

45

30

20

5. Underwater (in situ) SB 4

37

16

10

Table 1.    The details of measurements of Quern Stone

Registration no. Height(cm)

Diameter

(cm)

Weight

(g)

2 0 0 8 / S L / S /  GODA/M/2/01

9

19

3987.6
2 0 0 8 / S L / S /  GODA/M/2/09

9

18

2722.4

Table 2.   Details of glass ingots retrieved from the wreck site

The raw material used for these benches appears to be basalt. Due to thick encrustation growth over these artefacts no symbol or designs could be noticed. However, a bench retrieved earlier by local divers has some symbols (Fig. 7) on the extended front portion.

Other important finds from the wreck are glass ingots. Two ingots were retrieved earlier and are presently displayed in the Galle Fort Maritime Museum (Table 2). They are blue in color and semi spherical or bun-shaped. As per the report from the earlier investigation, there are about 3 or 4 ingots visible on the surface (Fig. 8).
In the north-west part of the site a large area with wreckage was noticed (Fig. 9). This area is divided into two separate blocks and appears to be parts of the cargo. From the surface observation they appear to be wooden logs covered with marine growth. One block measures 4.6 m in length and 1.2 m in width. This block is further divided into 2 bunches. The height is about 1 m with at least 4 layers visible. However, the entire wreckage part has been integrated due to being overgrown with marine encrustation, thus making it difficult to identify. Another big block is squarish, 3.9 m long and 3.7 m wide, and further subdivided into four blocks. The height of this block is c. 1.2 m. The measurement of a log is c. 10 x 15 x 200 cm. The blocks appear to be the major part of the cargo of the ship. From their shape and size they at first appear to be wooden planks, but from close observation underwater the material does not appear to be wood. It is possibly metal. This needs to be further investigated.

Discussion

Many ships have been wrecked around Sri Lanka (Manders et al. 2004) but Gudawaya is a very unique shipwreck and no parallel has been reported in publications. It is therefore of the utmost importance to continue the investigation of this site in order to fill in the gaps of our knowledge about early historic trade. The material found from this wreck such as pottery, stone quern, glass ingots, wreckage parts and the possible date of this wreck will be discussed in the following paragraphs.

Pottery

Pottery discovered at shipwreck sites has served daily household purposes in the past, but nowadays a good way to date the archaeological sites. At the same time it is also an indication of the movement and extension of a
particular culture. Thus it is pertinent to have a detailed discussion of the pottery discovered at the Godawaya shipwreck site.

Large cheap canadian viagra numbers of potsherds were noticed during the present investigation and a few recovered earlier have been identified as Black and Red Ware. At least two large-sized jars were at least 1.3 m in height. The earliest findings of large-sized jars come from the Mediterranean Sea dating back to the 1400 BC at Uluburun (Pulak 1998: 203) and continued till the 17th century AD. Besides large jars, a few medium and smaller sized jars were also noticed. These have been very common for a long time. However, the other important sherds are of black and red ware and special mention may be made of a carinated cooking vessel. Examples were found at several Megalithic sites
in India (Wheeler 1948: 274) and Sri Lanka (De’Silva & Dissanayake 2008: 197).

Black and red ware have a special place in the archaeology of the Indian subcontinent and the earliest date of the ware goes back to the 3rd millennium BC and continued with some variation till the early centuries of the Christian era (Gurumurthy 1981: 242). However, it has been prominently associated with the Megalithic culture of South India (Wheeler 1959: 62–63) dating back to the beginning of the first millennium BC to 3rd century AD
(Gurumurthy 1981: 245). There has been debate over the firing technique of this ware. Initially, it was suggested that it was the result of inverted firing with the rim covered with ashes (Petrie 1910: 530); however, Majumdar (1969: 90–93) proposes a different view: ‘the ordinary kiln without special arrangement can only produce either a wholly red or wholly black pot irrespective of its position in the kiln’. According to him there are ways in which, under special arrangement, the double colour effect can be achieved. These are:

  1. Single firing;
  2. Double firing, when the pot is first fired red and firing it, so that the region intended to be black purposely, protected against oxidation, turns black; and
  3. Double firing, but this time, firing the pot black first and re-firing it when a portion becomes red.

Pottery reported from the site is very commonly used and might have been used for storing water and other liquid substances like oil. The comparative study of the pottery from the Godawaya wreck with other terrestrial sites of Sri Lanka suggests a time bracket of the 4th century BC to 1st century BC (Table 3).

Pottery from Godawaya

LKB

Lower Kirinda Basin Typology

Gg Anuradhapura Gedige Typology

Tss Akkurugoda Tissamaharama Typology

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Comparative Dating
2008/SL/S/GODA/M/2/02godawaya-pottery-01
2008/SL/S/GODA/M/2/03godawaya-pottery-02 Form 13A 1 / Phase III350-250 BCE /page148–9 Form 3b? no ReferenceForm 4a or 5f ? no Reference Form A1-1 / Rim type 4 / Phase a, b & ci/400–200 BCE Page61/75/114/139/140-142/152/157 400–100 BCE
2008/SL/S/GODA/M/2/04
   2008/SL/S/GODA/M/2/05BRW plate/Pathragodawaya-pottery-03 Form 1A3 / Phase I /900–500 BCEForm 1A3 (Sub type1c1) TB/1/54,  exterior 7.5YR, 6/6Orange, interior— black, paste fine, luster—medium, ware—BRW, diameter 21cm, thickness– 5.33mm(Phase I) RS page 212/ (900–500 BCE)

Form 16c (iii) 800–100 BCE

Gg page 76/77/111/115

Form G / Rim type 5a / Phase a & b /400–200 BCE Page 61/93/120/140/148/151

900–100 BCE

2008/SL/S/GODA/M/2/06Small RBW bowl/cupgodawaya-pottery-04 Form 5I-1 / Phase III/350–250 BCE Form 16a (iii/iv) 800–100 BCEGg page 76/77/111 Form G / Rim type 5a & 4 Phase a /400–300 BCE Page 61/93/120/141/154 800 BCE–350 CE
2008/SL/S/GODA/M/2/07godawaya-pottery-05 Form 8n (ii /iii) 50–200 CEGg page 72/74/114/115 Form F1 / Rim type 5 & 4b/ Phase b /300–200 BCEPage 61/91/119/140/141/150/50 300 BCE–200 BCE
2008/SL/S/GODA/M/2/08godawaya-pottery-06 Form 8d (ii) ??-??CEGg page 72/73/118 Form F / Rim type 1,2,4b / Phase a & b /400–200 BCE Page 61/91/119/140–142/ 146/147/155/159/192 400–200 BCE

Table 3.    Comparison of pottery of Godawaya wreck with other terrestrial sites in Sri Lanka

Stone Quern/ Bench

The important finds from the shipwreck of Godawaya is the presence of stone querns in significant numbers. In archaeological literature this stone artefact has been referred to as querns for grinding the soft substance for foodstuff like curry paste. Stone querns have been reported as early as the Mesolithic period in the Indian subcontinent. However, during the Neolithic and protohistoric periods the querns were nicely shaped. A large number of querns have been reported at archaeological sites in the Indian subcontinent (Ghosh 1989: 184). However, our concern is with a four-legged quern and this shape appeared some time during the 4th century BC in Hastinapur (Lal 1955) and continued till the 3rd century AD at several sites in India and Sri Lanka . Some of the important sites with 4-legged querns include Nevasa (IAR 1955–56: 10) dated to the 1st century BC, Bahal (IAR, 1956-57: 18) dated the 3rd century BC, Nagarjunakonda (IAR 1957–58: 8) the 1st century BC, Atter (IAR 1957–58: 23) and Nagal (IAR 1961–62: 12) dated to the 3rd century BC, Kundanpur (IAR1961–62: 29) and Noh (IAR 1963–64: 29) they are dated to the 1st century BC/AD. Similarly querns at Paithan (IAR 1965–66: 28) are dated between the 3rd century BC and the 1st century AD, at Udapur and Adam (IAR 1975–76: 35–36) they are associated with black and red ware. At Satanikota (IAR 1977–78: 9) the 1st century BC/AD and Boregaon (IAR 1980–81) quern are associated with the Megalithic period, similarly at Khairwada (1981–82: 52) querns are dated to the Megalithic period. At Nadner (IAR 1986–87: 57) querns are dated to the 4th–3rd century BC, at Adam (1988–89: 56) legged querns have been dated to 500–150 BC and they have incised designs like Swastika, Nandipad and Mina, at Bet Dwarka (Gaur et al. 2005) stone querns have been found in association with the early historic period. The most interesting site four-legged quern is Pauni (IAR 1989–90: 58) in Maharashtra where a few hundreds of such querns have been discovered and most of them are broken into two. Most of the querns are rectangular in shape but a few are square and apsidal shape. They are made of different stones like sandstone, quartzite and Deccan trap. Another interesting site at Nasik (Sankalia & Deo 1955: 117) in Maharashtra yielded 16 legged querns and majority of them have one end projected with a view to let any pounded material fall into
a dish kept below the projection. These ends are either rectangular or rounded and 4 of them are decorated with a crescent-shaped incised dotted portion over which is an embossed figure of the Buddhist Triratna. Nagda
(Banerjee 1986: 258) and Kaundinyapura (Dikshit 1968) are other important sites where legged querns have been found in association with Satavahana period (2nd century BC to 1st century AD).

In Sri Lanka, the Yatala monastery (Somadeva 2006: 193) close to Godawaya yielded several stone querns with four legs and one the querns has a Brahmi inscription dated to the 250–100 BC (Fig. 10). Ramba, a large Buddhist
site on the southern Sri Lankan coast also has evidence of a quern which is displayed in the site museum.

There has been substantial discussion on the uses of this stone object and questions have been raised about why there are so many of such artefacts found at the wreck site. Let us examine the possibility of the use of this object. As stated earlier in archaeological literatureof India and Sri Lanka the object has been mentioned as a quern, and nowhere has any doubt been raised about the uses of it as a quern stone. If this was used as a quern stone for personal use, then one or two are enough, and the decoration on the surface of the front part of the stone would not be necessary. But, what about a different use? What about it being a seat for monks to meditate? The discovery of a number of such stone artefacts from Buddhist monasteries at Yatala and Ramba does support the above notion. However, if one carefully examines the stones then a few stones at Yatala and Ramba have a significant depression in the middle of the stone suggesting their uses as a quern stone. The height and the size (very small for use as seat for meditation) of the artefact does not act as a comfortable seat for meditation. Thus the use of this artefact as seat for meditation may be a weak argument. The alternate use of this artefact is as quern stone. However, a stone such as one at Yatala which bears the Brahmi inscription might never have been used as a grinding stone and rather just for some symbolic purposes. As stated earlier, a few hundred querns have been found from Pauni in India, which must have been a production centre for supplying other contemporary areas. Similarly, the findings of a large number of these artefacts on the Godawaya wreck site suggest that they were one of the export items of the ship for the destined country.

An interesting domestic scene is depicted in a sculptural panel on the south side of the eastern gate of the main Stupa at Sanchi (Central India). Amongst the women depicted in the panel who are engaged in doing several domestic works like winnowing, grinding, churning etc., one is using a quern with four legs. Here it has been clearly demonstrated that the projected part of the grinding surface of the quern is at the farther end from the woman and only this particular scene gives us an idea of the exact position in which a quern is placed while in use (Ghosh 1986: 154). This depiction is dated to the 2nd century BC and leaves little doubt on the uses of these stones as quern. As discussed above the most probable use of this stone artefact is as a quern and in an archaeological context it may be dated between the 2nd century BC and the 2nd century AD.
Glass ingots
This artefact has been referred to in a earlier publication as a glaze ingot (Muthukumaran 2009: 21–26. It is in fact silica glass in a bun-shape. Glass ingots have been recorded from the Uluburun wreck (Pulak 1998) dating back to the late Bronze Age. However, glass ingots are not reported so often; thus, this discovery becomes an important one from this region. The first regular production of glass was in Mesopotamia and Egypt around 1500 BC or slightly earlier (Shortland & Eremin 2006: 581–603). The evidence of glass objects from this region dates back to the early historic time. Bangles and beads are often common finds from these sites. The mechanism of the use of these ingots as raw material for manufacturing bangles and beads needs further investigation. Similarly, these ingots may not independently provide a possible time bracket and origin for the production. However, elemental analysis may provide the origin of these ingots.

Wreckage remains
Though this is the most important part the wreck, no conclusive work, unfortunately, could be done due to limited working time at 31 m depth. The wooden structure at the site has not been identified, the bulk of which is scattered c. 10 m in length and c. 3.5 m in width. Observations underwater, however, initially indicated that this appeared to be bunches of wooden logs. Closer examination, by scraping of some of the material, revealed that it did not look like wood but rather some kind of metal. This part needs a detailed investigation not only on site but also by taking a few samples for analysis.

Possible date of the wreck

In published material, the earliest shipwreck in this region that has been investigated is in Belitung Island, Indonesia, and has been dated to the 9th century AD (Flecker 2001: 335–354). The material found from this wreck includes Chinese ceramics and has no parallel with the Godawaya wreck in respect of ceramic or other finds. Thus the date of the Godawaya wreck is the pre 9th century AD. Another reason in favour of an earlier date is the absence of any pottery like Martaban, Khamer or Islamic glazed which has been used exclusively for the overseas trade irrespective of the origin of the ship during this period. The age of the wreck is an important point and needs to be discussed in light of the archaeological material found from this wreck as no parallel dated shipwreck has ever been found from this region to date.

Pottery found from the wreck may be crucial in pinpointing the approximate age of the wreck. As stated earlier, large-sized jars have been used in ships for cargo transportation since the Bronze Age (Bass 1973: 29–38) and continued until the late medieval period. However, the shape of jars significantly changed in the later period. As for the jars from the Godawaya wreck, they have a globular base and must have been placed in a place where some kind of additional base was provided to them otherwise they would roll-down. As of now it is difficult to say if there are other types of jars present in the wreck because of the fact that major parts of the wreck are still buried. Other ceramics, like carinated dishes, may be important to determine the approximate time bracket. Though this variation is available throughout the prehistoric and historical time, the fabric of these pots indicate their association with the later Megalithic period.

At present, the most valuable and prominent finding that has provided substantial information on the possible date of the shipwreck is the stone quern. The stone quern has been reported from various archaeological sites in definite context from India as well as Sri Lanka. Stone querns appear from the Mesolithic period onwards, but the appearance of four-legged querns may be dated to the 4th century BC in many archaeological sites in India. And, more prolific appearances may be traced during the Satavahana period (2nd century BC to 1st century BC) (Dikshit 1968). Thus a date between the 2nd century BC and the 2nd century AD may be the possible age bracket
of this wreck.

Conclusions

There have been reports and publications on the several shipwrecks in and around the Indian Ocean countries during the last two decades or so. However, those wrecks are dated between the 9th century AD and up to the early 20th century AD. Thus the information on the early shipwrecks was virtually zero and the Godawaya wreck site has provided much needed impetus to the maritime archaeology of this region. The seabed observation indicates that a large part of the wreck is buried in the sediment and the extent of the site can only be determined after a complete investigation. The cargo material such as quern and pottery appears to be originally of the Indian subcontinent region; hence, it is very possible that the origin of the ship may be traced to this region. A large number of quern and pottery indicate that these items may also be part of a trading commodity. The major
part of the wreckage needs to be identified and that will reveal the kind of cargo ships used to carry at that time. On the basis of current findings from this wreck it is suggested that the origin of the vessel may be traced regionally (more broadly the Indian subcontinent). The comparative study of archaeological findings such as pottery and stone quern indicate a possible date of the wreck between the 2nd century BC and the 2nd century AD. Hence, a wreck of this period is a lone example from this part of the world. As this is a preliminary report, the dating and cargo identification may change as more evidence is gathered during the future investigation of the wreck site.

Acknowledgements

We thank Prof. Nimal de Silva, the Director General of the Central Cultural Fund and Dr Senarath Disanayeke, the Director General of the Department of Archaeology for supporting this programme. Authors are thankful to the funding agencies including UNESCO and the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands. We also acknowledge the assistance rendered by Mr Sunil and Preminde during the survey work.

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Reading of the contemporary social consciousness through the shipwreck Earl of Shaftsbury*

By A.M.A.Dayananda

* This article was first published in proceedings of ASIA-PACIFIC REGIONAL CONFERENCE ON UNDERWATER CULTURAL HERITAGE, 2011, Manila

Abstract

The shipwreck Earl of Shaftsbury is buried on the southern coast of Sri Lanka very close to a frequented tourist destination. It was run aground hitting on a rock at Akurala about three miles away from the shore. In 1893 when sailing from Bombay to Diamond Island the ship sailed past Rangoon through Colombo harbour after unloading charcoal. It is an iron build four mast sailing vessel. It collided with a reef due to rough waves. Six of the crew drowned and 22 survived. The shipwreck settled at a 50 foot depth. The incident was first reported in the The Ceylon Examiner Newspaper on 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th of May 1893. The value of the vessel was estimated at Indian Rupees (Rs.) 300,000 at the time. In one article there is another steamer ship reported wrecked some years previously. This paper includes details of the wreckage as are available from the newspaper reports. What happened after her wreckage was an interesting story. The time was the British colonial period in “Ceylon” (now Sri Lanka) during which time there was a growing general unrest against the colonial masters. Some information reveals that this mindset may have influenced the rescuers during their rescue efforts of the drowning crew. This paper it is going to elaborate on the story behind the shipwreck of the Earl of Shaftsbury and investigate the social influences towards the wreck site then and now.

Introduction

Even though Sri Lanka is a small island it is located at a geographically important juncture which joins the sea routes of East and West in the Indian Ocean. It was used as a trade centre within which goods were exchanged and as a resting place for navigators after a long sea voyage. “This ship was built in 1883 and belonged to the English firm The Browns and Sons”(Bruzelius,1996). A metallic vessel with four masts and a contemporaneously superior ship on the company's registration (The Ceylon Examiner Newspaper 08,05,1893). The ship had often arrived to the Colombo harbour but was wrecked in 1893 in the southern ocean of Sri Lanka marking its end of long sea voyages. The wreckage of the coal-transport ship is located between Hikkaduwa and Akurala and 14 meters deep in the seabed.

Two of the newspapers, The Otago Daily Times and The Ceylon Examiner (Figure 2) reported over several days of the ship's tragedy and the problematic situation that the crew had to face after the wrecking. A minute detail of the reported facts and the way that they have been reported exposes the social background and the mentality of the social context.

Discovery and Recognition of the Ship ‘Earl of Shaftsbury’

The Earl of Shaftsbury attracted both local and foreign divers visiting Hikkaduwa It was reported by Arthur C. Clerk in the 1960s.(Clerk 1956-57:p,38) A very brief introduction of it is also mentioned in his book The Reef of Taprobane.” We later discovered, marked the resting place of the Earl of Shaftesbury, which ran on to the Akurala Reef in 1893” (Clerk 1956-57:p,38). A formal survey on this place has not been done since the diving activities conducted in the 1960s. This shipwreck not only entails historic and archaeological value but bears great significance to bio diversity as well. The ship which provides a place of living for different marine species of various colours represents an important environmental system. The Maritime Archaeology Unit (MAU) in Galle, which is under the Central Cultural Fund, planned for an archaeological exploration on the shipwreck. Archaeological investigations on the ship first started in January 2008. The second step involved basic surveying activities in March and April 2008 by the participants of the Asian Pacific Regional Maritime Archaeology Training School established in association with the MAU (Figure 1).

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Figure 1. The group that assisted the exploration (Photo – R. Muthucumarana)

Scriptorium Research Work

Research was carried out on documents in search of the facts that had not yet been revealed. The divers who lived close to the site were aware that the Earl of Shaftsbury wrecked in 1893. The fact had been further proved by Clerk's book The Reef of Taprobane. So steps were taken to carry out an archive search based on the year 1893. Nishantha Kumara, an undergraduate who came to the MAU as a volunteer was sent to search the old newspapers. The attempt was fruitful because the Examiner reported the details of the shipwreck. This ship had been built in the Leigh region in England by the firm Reimage and Ferguson. It was registered under Lloyds, the authority on certificates of quality for ships. The Earl of Shaftsbury was of the highest condition among the ships then registered under the firm(The Ceylon Examiner news paper 08,05,1893).

The length of the ship was 289.6 feet (ft.) and the width of it was 42.01 ft, her tonnage was 2079, and the dimension was 2869 ft. The owner of the ship was the Brown and Sons in England. The estimated value of the ship was three hundred thousand rupees in 1893. Out of the 28 members of staff onboard, six lost their lives in the wreckage (The Ceylon Examiner News paper 08, 05,1893). The ship had sailed to Bombay from New York harbour in America loaded with paraffin oil and coal. The empty vessel, which had been reloaded with ballast stones for balance, wrecked while sailing around Sri Lanka towards Diamond Island in Rangoon. At the time of the wreck the captain may have possessed a large sum of money; the money that the ship had earned from the goods unloaded at Bombay(Rasika,2010:p,06).

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Figure 2. Otago Daily Time 1893/06/23(Left) and The Ceylon Examiner News Paper 1893-05-08(Right)

The Present Situation of the nautical ship, the Earl of Shaftsbury

According to the initial research carried out in 2008, it was observed that the central part of the naval ship had been severely damaged. Further investigations of the ruins revealed that this was not only natural causes but also due to the activities of treasure hunters and metal collectors, who had caused the destruction using explosives. The bow and the stern sections are still in good condition and the massive iron masts of the ship can be well recognized. The ballast stones that had been used to balance the empty vessel are still lying around the ship. The ship which lies inclining on its left maintains unity from the front to the back.

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Remains of wreck1

Figure 3. The Ruins of the Earl of Shaftsbury (Photo – R. Muthucumarana)

Field Strategies

In 2008 the members of the MAU, did a survey on the wreck in a collaboration with the UNESCO Bangkok office. The wreck was measured and recorded by the team using 06 temporary control points fixed around the wreck. The site was divided in to two parts (from bow to mid-ship and from stern to mid-ship) and the two parts were measured separately. Each part was measured by using control points and the help of the Site Recorder program (a software developed by the 3H Consulting/United Kingdom). Also a base line was established covering the entire archaeological field. It was about 60 meters long and measurements were taken in the off-set method. For photographic records we used underwater digital still camera (Olympus C-770 camera with Ikelite housing) and video (Sony HC-90E camera with Ikelite housing). The expected goals were not achieved by this limited surveying activities conducted over four days(2008-03-27-29 and 2008-04-03) but they were enough to identify the naval ship as the Earl of Shaftsbury (Figure 4).

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A Sketch of the wreck Earl of Shaftsbury

Figure 4. A Sketch of the wreck Earl of Shaftsbury (Drawing from the MAU archives)

The Last Few Hours of the Earl of Shaftsbury

The ship sunk

due to natural hazards. The actual event was recorded by Leyers in (The Ceylon Examiner Newspaper 09,05,1893):

After cruising around Sri Lanka the ship sailed to the right of Colombo harbour towards the Diamond Island in the City of Rangoon. At about 3 a.m. the nature of the sea turned extremely wild and brought howling storms along. The ship was expeditiously glided forward and pushed up and down by the ferocious waves. Suddenly something black appeared before the crew who were observing the route in the front of the ship. Through intermittent flashes of lightening the crew identified a reef. At once the crew on board started shouting. As the captain rushed out of his cabin to examine the cry the ship collided on the rock with a big noise. The captain was overwrought by this and rushed into the control cabin in attempt to take the ship into the deep sea. His efforts were futile and the ship was repeatedly raised by the harsh waves and thumped several times against the rock. The ship was ultimately steered into the deep sea with the captain's efforts. The ship had been unfortunately pierced by the knock against the rock and sea water rushed in. Soon it was filled with water and descending in the sea. Before the navigators stationed in the lower part of the ship's decks had time to think the ship started sinking (The Ceylon Examiner News Paper 09, 05,1893).
Some other navigators who were saved from drowning, said the captain watched the navigators fight for their lives against the harsh waves. The waves threw the crew about as they hung on to the masts that had emerged out of water and others clasped the wreckage of the ship. “The captain was spotted convulsing, entering his cabin and locking himself in”(The Ceylon Examiner News Paper 10,05,1893) .Moreover, according to their revelations, at the moment of wrecking the Second Officer of the ship had acted immediately and been successful in launching a life saving boat. Fourteen navigators had boarded the lifeboat and headed towards the coast. The Earl of Shaftsbury then buckled up throwing all on board into the sea at about 150 meters from the coast. This unexpected incident made the tired crew more miserable (The Ceylon Examiner News Paper 09,05,1893).

There were also recorded some inconsistencies with the events around the captain. This may be an indicator that the crew itself were largely unaffected by the death of the captain. Perhaps the first entry to follow is indicative of the locals' mere dismissal of the captain, while the second entry is more emotional and perhaps more about the shocked tone of the crew.

The officers were housed by the special agent of the government until dawn and then taken to the guest house in Ambalangoda. Three days later the body of the captain, which had been badly destroyed, was carried to shore by the water. After recognition of the body by the chief officer of the ship and the rest of the crew, it was carried to Saint James church and buried with religious rituals (The Ceylon Examiner news paper,11,05,1893).

The Otago Daily Times (Allen 26,01,2010). revealed an entirely different story about the captain's death,

according to Mr. Jones, a rescued crew member of the Earl of Shaftsbury, the only reason the captain died was because he fell off the lifeboat. The lifeboat had loosened in its ties from the ship and had fallen on the captain's head while he was swimming for his life which knocked him out.

In the aftermath of the unfortunate event, (Levers,08,05,1893) records the reaction of the locals. This record is in fact a glimpse of the socio-politics at the time and is symptomatic of the Sri Lankan anger towards the European oppression.

The survivors had no other option but to swim for their lives. They swam a small distance and soon realized the European uniform they wore was a swimming hindrance. They pulled them off and swam towards the coast. They were reported to be mentally imbalanced and shocked, with bleeding wounds caused by being knocked against the rocks close-in to shore. The locals provided the naked navigators with native clothing. The surviving navigators later said that even though they requested the locals to save the lives of those who are still hanging on the masts and wreckage of the ship, they were denied with mentions that money was needed if they are to be saved. Later, all the men hanging onto the wreckage were saved by government special agents who were dispatched to the location. European suits were sent from Colombo for those officers who were clad in native clothes. The Examiner reported what a great shame for the Europeans to have been in native clothes for the whole day until the arrival of European uniforms(The Ceylon Examiner News Paper 09,05,1893).

The Names of the Drowned

Captain T.B Mayyard, aged about 56 years,
Second Mate. W.K Loyle, aged about 20 years.
Steward, E. Morentz, aged about 21 years.
Sail Maker. W perry, aged about 50 year.
Two coloured seamen, natives of St Helena and Fiji Islands.

The Survivors

Chief Mate, JL Jones
Carpenter, W Guest.
Apprentices, G.O Trofaint, O.E pokely, and Thomson 14 coloured able seamen, 2 boatswains and the cook. Altogether 22. (The Ceylon Examiner News Paper 09,05.1893).

Reported Incidents After Sinking; Lack of Humanity?

The Earl of Shaftsbury was smashed and wrecked in a period when Sri Lanka was a British colony (1815-1948). There had been no other shipwreck than the Earl of Shaftsbury to have revealed the detail of the area's social background. The thoughts and ambitions of the locals who were ruled by the Europeans and some of their behaviours can be seen through these reports. “Humankind does not always continue to exist with the same monotonous life style. Their thoughts and ambitions do fluctuate with time. Exterior influences are mostly responsible for these fluctuations”(Somarathne 1960 p,01). When studying social impacts and noting the larger context in which people conduct themselves, projects like this one, can reveal an underlying agency. To address this, newspaper records of the navigators' comments were gathered in hopes to note the voice of a colonized society. Among the reports that appeared on the wreckage the incident of not-saving crew members is the most highlighted fact. The Examiner reported that even though the surviving navigators had pleaded with the fishermen on shore to save the lives of the rest of the crew, the fishermen had demanded a considerable amount of money if they were to do so and would not otherwise. The newspaper report had highlighted that, “natives showed their lack of humanity” (The Ceylon Examiner News Paper 09,05,1893).
In my personal view, The behaviour of the fishermen at a crisis like this could never be appreciated and should not take place in any civilized society. Especially in a great society that has been nurtured by Buddhist philosophies. Yet the reason for such hard hearted people must be found out by a subtle and thorough case study. The people in that society were under true agony from being oppressed with revolutionary attitudes. The influence of three powerful European nationalities that largely focused on economic advantages, from 1505 AD fostered a feeling of loss of freedom and the consequential loss of their culture. Up to the time of the wreckage there had been no other opportunity to record the deep-seeded anti-colonial feelings. The fishermen, with the mentality for freedom, may have refused saving the navigators due to their revolutionary attitudes caused by this anti-colonial sentiment. They might have used this incident to show their frustration and envy towards the colonists. They might have thought they would have been betraying their own nation by rescuing their enemies. Furthermore they would have been reluctant to throw their lives at risk by launching their small boats when the sea had become so violent that even large ships, such as the Earl of Shaftsbury, were not safe.
The chagrin was not only visible in natives but also in Europeans. The report, “The Captain, Europeans and two Coloured men Drowned”, ( The Ceylon Examiner News Paper 08, 05,1893). highlights this, in that the report on the survivors and the dead had grouped the black and Europeans separately. Navigators’ were in local clothes until the European clothes were received and this was reported as an insult to them. All the above mentioned facts reveal that there had been a social conflict between the Europeans and the locals.

Conclusions

The only iron vessel with four masts so far found in Sri Lanka territorial waters is the wrecked Earl of Shaftsbury. This is an important research station for any marine archaeologist studying ship building technology. Although there are so many laws and conventions enacted internationally and locally in order to protect these monuments, there are many practical difficulties in implementing them. One of the main difficulties is to find funding for archaeological projects. We had to depend on funds allocated by the state under the national budget. So it has become a common feature for a developing nation like Sri Lanka to depend on funds from other sources. However, I emphasize that archaeological sites of this nature shall be further studied and shall be protected for the use of future generations. As a place of archaeological importance for more than 100 years this wreck site is protected by archaeological law (Department of Archaeology 1940; Department of Archaeology 1998). Besides, steps are been taken to declare this site as protective monuments under purview of Government of Sri Lanka and thereby will get a blanket coverage for the site.

Acknowledgements

I wish to thank the organizers of the Asia Pacific Regional Conference on Underwater Cultural Heritage for giving me an opportunity to participate. I also extended my gratitude to professor Mark Staniforth and professor Nimal de Silva, The Director General (Central Cultural fund) for encouraging me to publish this report.

Bibliography

Allen, T.,2010 “Wreck of the Earl of Shaftsbury six Lives Lost”, in Otago Daily Times 23 June Viewed 03 October 2011 http://www.wrecksite.eu/wreck.aspx?138941/>.
Bruzelius, L.,1996 Earl of Shaftesbury, Viewed 04 October , 2011.http://www.bruzelius.info/Nautica/Ships/Fourmast_ships/Earl_of_Shaftesbury(1883).html
Clerk, A.C.,1956-1957 The reefs of Taprobane, printed in theunited states of America, Harper and Brother publishers,New York.
Departmentof Archaeology1940 Antiquities ordinance No 9
Departmentof Archaeology1998 Amendment to the Antiquities ordinance No 9 of 1940 (21st May 1998)
Levers, R.W.,1893 “Total Loss of The Ship Earl of Shaftsbury Off Akurella, Near Ambalangodde”, in The Ceylon Examiner News Paper, 08,09,10,11, May.
Rasika, M.,2010 Dalanidu Magazine Vol II. Akurala verele Kedavachakaya Earl of Shaftsbury, Maritime Archaeology Unit Central cultural fund.
Somaratne, W.,1960 A Modern Ceylon and world history,Ceylon publishing cooperation.













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