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Archaeological Relics Delivered to GoN 2015-2-9 16:27

HKND Group and Environmental Resources Management (ERM), a renowned global consulting firm on cultural and environmental management, handed over to the Nicaraguan Institute of Culture (INC) more than 14,000 precious archaeological artifacts, including primarily pre-Columbian ceramic sherds along with carved or polished stone tools, during a ceremony held at the National Palace of Culture in Managua on February 4, 2015.

This archaeological wealth, which dates back to 500 B.C. to A.D. 1519, was collected during the study to locate and assess the most sensitive cultural sites, as part of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) process of the Nicaragua Grand Canal Project. A pre-field  literature search and expert consultation identified 217 previously documented archaeological sites in the general vicinity of the Project area.  The field survey discovered 330 new cultural heritage sites, including 213 archaeological sites, 105 built heritage sites and 12 living heritage sites.

At the ceremony, speeches were given respectively by Ms. Vilma de la Rocha, Director of INC; Mr. Bernard Li, Deputy General Manager of Public Relations Department of HKND Group and Dr. Manuel Román, principal investigator of archeology and cultural heritage of ERM. The event was also attended by Mr. Laureano Ortega, coordinator of the Nicaraguan Canal and Development Project Commission; Mr. Luis Morales Alonso, Co-Director of INC; Mr. Xu Changbao, General Manager of Nicaragua Office, HKND Group, and numerous prominent experts, academics and researchers. Nicaraguan and international media gave extensive coverage of this significant ceremony.

The archaeological findings and data from these sites has contributed substantial knowledge to our understanding of Nicaraguan cultural heritage, especially the pre-Columbian past, as research outside the Pacific Coast area of Nicaragua has been very limited to date. To rescue, protect and preserve cultural heritage is a commitment made by HKND Group, and the company has paid significant attention to it. The important results of this archaeological study address the concerns of the Nicaraguan people on the protection of cultural heritage and demonstrate the responsible attitude of HKND.

ESIA and mitigation measures are based on internationally recognized practice, relying on ERM’s recent experience with other large, internationally-sponsored infrastructure projects throughout the region. The whole process is strictly in accordance with the laws of Nicaragua and international best practices.

The baseline findings will be reported in the Canal ESIA. The ESIA includes an individual assessment of each site with archaeological sensitivity in accordance with its scientific, historic, cultural, artistic, and/or religious importance to local, national, and international stakeholders. All sites identified by the baseline survey were mapped and their coordinates are now included in a cultural heritage database to support future protection and proper management efforts by the Nicaragua Canal Project.

The survey team consisted of 29 investigators, including internationally-recognized experts on Nicaraguan and Central American archaeology. The team was led by Dr. Manuel Román who holds a PhD in anthropology from the University of Pittsburgh and used to work as Director of the National Museum of Nicaragua in Managua. The fieldwork was conducted by three teams for six consecutive weeks: one in Rivas, one to the east of Lake Nicaragua, and one in the Caribbean area. In addition, a built heritage team spent nearly three weeks in the field.  The specialists worked in a laboratory in Nicaragua, with the support of students from the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (UNAN-Managua).

The ESIA’s Terms of Reference were approved by the Government of Nicaragua, and the fieldwork was coordinated with the INC and the Rama Kriol Territorial Government (GTRK). Local communities and national stakeholders have been engaged in the process pursuant to international and national standards. 

HKND is now making plans to conserve and share information about these and other finds that the project will uncover, the latter through programs such as museum exhibitions and other public information sharing venues.

All these efforts demonstrate that HKND Group has attached great importance to protecting the history and cultural heritage of Nicaragua. It is another example of the responsibility that HKND has taken to develop the Canal Project with international best practices. Facts have proved that HKND is not only a constructor, but also a protector.

Thanks to the development of the Canal Project, indigenous artifacts buried for hundreds or even two thousand years have been brought to light. It is a gift dedicated to the Nicaraguan people by the Project, making a great contribution for the public’s better understanding of the history and culture of Nicaragua, and even Central America. HKND will commit itself to the society and history, and build a green canal, beneficial to all mankind.

131 fragments of this vessel (A.D. 400-800) were recovered during our survey (80-100% of the whole).

During the Handing-over Ceremony

Mr. Laureano Ortega , coordinator of the Nicaraguan Canal and Development Project Commission; Mr. Bernard Li , Deputy General Manager of Public Relations Department and Mr. Xu Changbao, General Manager of Nicaragua Office, HKND Group 

One piece of stone artifact found in the field survey