Sri Lanka Maritime Archaeological Unit – Report on the Avondster Project 2001 – 2002



Avondster Project Report 2011

Sri Lanka is strategically located between Arabia and East Asia, at a natural crossroads of navigational routes, and has been a centre of trade and cultural exchange since ancient times. Sri Lankaʼs seafaring history, and the archaeological riches of her land sites, suggests that her underwater sites

may prove comparably fascinating. In 2001 a Maritime Archaeology Unit (MAU) has been formed under the Mutual Heritage Centre, managed by the Central Cultural Fund in cooperation with the Amsterdam Historical Museum, the University of Amsterdam and the Western Australian Maritime Museum, and sponsored by the Netherlands Cultural Fund. The first major project is the excavation of the Avondster, one of several Dutch East Indiamen wrecked in and outside the harbour at Galle.

Galle harbour has an impressive number of heritage sites, some dating back many centuries before the Dutch (1640-1796). Underwater surveys of the Bay of Galle (since 1992) have revealed 21 archaeological sites dated from the 13th century up to modern viagra for women online times. Several stone anchors of Indo-Arabian pattern have been discovered. One of these weights almost a ton and is

made of stone thought to originate from Oman. Its wooden stock has been dated around 500 years old. Such anchors imply they were designed for ships of considerable size. The wooden stocks would have been regularly replaced, so the anchor itself may be older. An anchor of Mediterranean pattern has been found, similar to those used in Roman times (fig. 10). A celadon bowl of the Southern Song dynasty (13th century) is one of our few relics of the early trade with China; the later blue-and-white Chinese trade ware is abundant.1 While Sri Lankan archaeology is rich in treasures from much earlier periods, it is the combination of several Dutch East India Company (VOC) wrecks, with the VOCʼs extensive historical archives that makes Galle Harbour so interesting. The Dutch administrative records and maps are helping us to identify the shipwrecks and to understand their historical context. This report will present the excavation of the VOC-ship Avondster in the context of a broader field of research related to the role of Galle as an important port city in the Indian Ocean region.

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Report courtesy :   Maritime Archaeology Unit, Galle.


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