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US funds preservation of South Asia’s oldest shipwreck

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US Ambassador Julie Chung, Secretary to the Ministry of Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs Somaratne Vidanapathirana, Director General of Central Cultural Fund Professor Gamini Ranasinghe, and Senior Archaeology Officer Rasika Muthucumarana today (13) celebrated the announcement of a US grant of $82,192 to document and conserve the Godawaya shipwreck and its artifacts.

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

“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 United States hopes to help preserve and promote Sri Lanka’s magnificent cultural heritage,” Ambassador Chung stated at the ceremony inside the Maritime Archeological Museum inside the Dutch Fort.

The Godawaya, originally discovered by two Sri Lankan divers, is the oldest known shipwreck in the Asia-Pacific region and one of the oldest sunken vessels to be discovered in the world.  Located near Hambantota port, it includes a mound of corroded metal bars and a scattering of other ancient cargo, including glass ingots and pottery.

The documentation and conservation funded through the grant will be undertaken by the Central Cultural Fund’s Maritime Archeology Unit.  Documentation of the site and engagement with U.S. 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 Archeology Unit’s Galle and Colombo lab.  Once the project has been completed, artifacts will also be on display to the public in the Maritime Archeological Museum in Galle. 

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, the conservation of the Rajagala Buddhist forest monastery, the preservation of Buddhist, Hindu, and other collections in the Anuradhapura Archaeological Museum, the restoration of the Batticaloa Dutch Fort, the 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.

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French ambassador in SL, passes away

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The French Ambassador for Sri Lanka and Maldives Jean-François Pactet has passed away today (May 26).

According to the police, the ambassador has passed away at his official residence.

He was 53 years old.He has served as the Ambassador in Sri Lanka since October 2022.

A career diplomat, Pactet was previously Deputy Director of Culture and Education in the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

From 2016 to 2019, Jean-François Pactet was in charge of the Ministry’s policy regarding global health, gender equality and education, and supervised French contributions to multilateral funds in these areas.

Prior to this, Jean-François Pactet has been posted at the French Embassy to the United States in Washington (2012-2016) and at the French Permanent Representation to NATO in Brussels. 

He was also a Deputy Spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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Veteran singer and musician Ananda Perera passes away

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Renowned singer and musician Ananda Perera has passed away at the age of 67.

Family sources confirmed that he died while receiving treatment at a hospital in Kandy.

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Tea represents harmony, social inclusivity, says China – SL reps. to UN (Video)

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Tea as a popular drink shared by multiple countries around the world stands for harmony, diversity and social inclusivity, said representatives both of China and Sri Lanka to the United Nations at a ceremony held in the United Nations headquarter in New York on Tuesday.

The event themed “Tea for Harmony” was held to celebrate the International Tea Day, which also fell on Tuesday with a nod to China’s centuries-old tea traditions. It is co-sponsored by the Permanent Mission of China to the UN and China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

“For thousands of years, tea has traveled along the Silk Road and the maritime routes to reach people around the world. Tea cultures from various countries, while sharing the same roots, have deeply integrated with their own customs and traditions. Just like this year’s theme ‘Tea for Harmony’ suggests, tea has indeed played an important role in promoting harmony within diversity,” said Dai Bing, China’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN.

In his opening speech, Mohan Peiris, Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to UN, noted that tea functions as a means to bring people together for a casual chat, and thus helps to encourage social interaction and stands for inclusivity.

“Drinking tea promotes social interaction. Sharing tea provides an opportunity for individuals to come together. And that’s something we do here in the delegates lounge. It facilitates conversation. Let’s have a chat over a cup of tea. It encourages inclusivity. Community drinking can bring people together. Well, it also fosters equal footing. The very act of sharing a cup of tea is typically egalitarian. It’s big,” he said.

Products from Xinyang, a well-known tea-producing region in central China’s Henan Province, were highlighted at the event, with tea masters making drink with Xinyang Maojian, a widely welcomed local green tea at the scene.

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