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Sunken City being prepped for World Heritage Site nomination

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

THE Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT) has conducted a survey and assessment of the Sunken City of Port Royal, as part of preparations for its nomination as a World Heritage Site.

While the focus of the nomination is the underwater heritage component, the assessment — conducted from May 23 to 29 — included both the marine and terrestrial areas.

Port Royal was the trade hub of the Caribbean and the most economically important English port in the Americas. It was consumed by an earthquake in 1692 during which two-thirds of the town sank into the sea.

The Sunken City has remained as it was on the day of the earthquake. In contrast, the terrestrial area has been affected by catastrophic events, including fire and a series of hurricanes.

The survey and assessment, conducted with the assistance of UNESCO, has confirmed the boundaries of the site and proposed boundaries for the terrestrial area. JNHT executive director Laleta Davis-Mattis said the boundaries will be “key in the development of conservation and management strategies for Port Royal”.

“The establishment of boundaries is not aimed at preventing development and other activities in Port Royal. The boundaries are tools that will help the JNHT, working with stakeholders in the community, to regulate the type of activities that take place so that we can preserve the heritage for generations to come,” she said.

The survey and assessment was conducted by a team of local and international experts, including: Professor Donny Hamilton of the Nautical Archaeology Programme and the Anthropology Department at Texas A&M University; Dr Robert Grenier, chief of the Underwater Archaeology Service for Parks, Canada; and Dr Margaret Leshiker-Denton, chair of the Society for Historical Archaeology UNESCO Committee.

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