Galle Harbour, Sri Lanka Maritime Archaeological Impact Assessment

Research Projects | Updated 4 years ago

A diver working on a cannon at shipwreck site
Diver and insitu cannon, Hercules site
Image copyright of WA Museum

Following discussions between the Sri Lankan department of Archaeology (SLDA) and department of Maritime Archaeology, Western Australian Museum (WAM), WAM was engaged as a consultant to undertake a maritime archaeological survey of Galle Harbour as part of an Archaeological Impact Assessment (AIA) process in 2007.

The purpose of the consultancy was to carry out a maritime archaeological survey, and provide a report to the SLDA outlining the impact of the proposed Galle port development on the underwater cultural heritage of Galle Harbour.

WAM has been involved in maritime archaeological investigations in Galle Harbour since 1992. Previous work included remote sensing surveys, site inspections and excavation of shipwrecks. Remote sensing and diving search projects undertaken in 1992, 1993 and 1996 resulted in the location of a range of significant maritime heritage sites in the harbour including Arab-Indian stone anchors, the VOC wrecks of the Avondster (1659) and Hercules (1661) and 19th century iron steamship wrecks.

Due to advances since 1997 in position-fixing and remote sensing techniques, it was necessary to resurvey the proposed port development area to accurately position and identify possible sites to be impacted by the development.

Conservation department staff also assisted with the work, and made the valuable contribution of setting up a conservation laboratory to treat the excavated artefacts and train local personnel in conservation techniques.

See for report: #235