SLPA sponsors ‘Along the Ancient Maritime Trails’ at the National Museum

Monday, 7 February 2011 00:18 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

An exhibition on ‘International Trade with Lanka, from Ancient Times’ presented by the 4th batch of the Diploma in Museology, Post Graduate Institute of Archaeology was unveiled at the Colombo National Museum from 3 February onwards.

The exhibition is organised in collaboration with the Department of Archeology and Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) and is also exclusively sponsored by SLPA.

The exhibition depicts a number of ancient archeological findings, mappings as well as picture and information panels that unveils the story along the ancient maritime trails where Sri Lanka won mega recognition as a hub port in the international maritime transportation in history.

The strategic position of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean, at the middle of the maritime silk route from China to Europe, made it a hub for ancient trade. The famous seafarer Ptolemy in 150 A.C. described Taprobane as an island of nearly continental size, which remains proof of Sri Lanka’s importance in the maritime trade. From historical sources and archeological evidence, international trade links could be inferred from the 8th Century BCE. The south west monsoons carried in the sailing ships across the ocean from the west and the north east monsoons on their return journey from the east.

The natural harbours around Sri Lanka, such as Manthai (3rd century BCE to 11th A.C.) in the North West, Godawaya (1st century BCE to   10th A.C.) in the south and Gokana in the east were busy sea ports, with adjacent navigable rivers facilitated trade with inland cities like Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa.

Magam Ruhunupura Mahinda Rajapaksa port that has been given prominence at the exhibition at the national museum indicates a number of educational and technical details which are of higher importance to the students as well as public to get a first hand information of this mega project that links the past and present for a better and prosperous future of Sri Lanka.

Magam Ruhunupura Mahinda Rajapaksa Port is located about 10 nautical miles from one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, used by up to 200 vessels everyday. The port is an inland harbour built on 2000 acres. Excavated to a depth of 17 metres, it will handle vessels up to 100,000 DWT (Dead weight Tons), with a ship turning circle of 600 metres. A 50 acre island will be created close to the coast using the soil removed from the port construction and connected by a bridge.  

Construction of a full fledged bunkering facility is underway and that tank farm being constructed at the premises which is nearing completion consists of a total storage capacity of 80,000 cubic metres. The tank farm consists of 8 tanks for ship oil, 3 for aircraft oil and 3 for LP Gas. When the phase II of the project is completed, it will provide berthing facilities for over 30 ships making it the biggest port in South Asia.

In the year 2004, Sri Lanka handled 2 million TEU of containers which has grown to 4 million TEU by 2010. It is expected to be 10 million TEU by 2020, when the port will generate 40% of the Government income, and have created 10,000 direct and over 60,000 indirect new job opportunities.

With international facilities such as a port, airport, Cricket ground, conference centre and linked by the super highway to Colombo, it is expected that Magampura would become the administrative capital of Sri Lanka. In 2010 November, when Magam Ruhunupura Mahinda Rajapaksa Port was inaugurated, President Mahinda Rajapaksa promisingly noted that he was committed to building Sri Lanka to be the wonder of Asia. When Asia is progressing rapidly, led by China and India, Sri Lanka also seeks to be a part of this emergence, by making it a five fold hub in naval, aviation, commercial, energy and knowledge.

Dr.Priyath B.Wickrama - Chairman of SLPA, Capt.Nihal Keppetipola - Managing Director of SLPA, G.A.Thalagala - Director Operations of SLPA, Nalin Aponso - Deputy Chief manager (Communication and Public Relations) of SLPA, Dr. Kavan Rathnathunga - – Numismatist, and several staff members and officers of the National Museum and the Department of Archeology were present at the inauguration of the archeological exhibition,  ‘International Trade with Lanka, from Ancient Times’ that depicts the historical paths of maritime trade on which Sri Lanka is treading towards rapid  socio-economic development.