Thursday, November 04, 2004


Myanmar Begins Retrieving Cultural Treasures Buried Under Riverbeds


Dar Al-Hayat

Myanmar plans to next year begin retrieving cultural treasures that have been buried under riverbeds for centuries, a local cultural journal reported Wednesday.

Foreign experts will train people from Myanmar's archaeology and water resources departments in underwater archaeology skills next year, and the hunt should start soon after, Flower News said.

The journal quoted Hla Gyi Maung Maung, director-general of the Archaeology Department, as saying the search would focus on the Ayeyarwaddy River along which the ancient cities of Bagan, Tagaung and Amarapura once flourished.

The official said the Great Bell of Dhammazedi, which has been lying in Yangon River for centuries, will be among the treasures salvaged if the training proves successful.

Ordered cast by a monarch who donated it to the capital's Shwedagon Pagoda in 1476, the giant bronze bell was stolen by a Portuguese adventurer. But the vessel carrying the bell sank. Until the late 1800s, the top of the sunken bell could still be seen at low tide.

Earlier attempts to salvage the Dhammazedi Bell, which is believed to weigh about 270 tons (300 U.S. tons), were unsuccessful.

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