Symposium on the Results of the Preconstruction Archaeological Investigation in Brito Area of the West Canal Held in Managua
· Archaeological Findings along the Canal Route Generate Wide Interest of Nicaraguan Experts
On 31 March 2016, a symposium on the results of the preconstruction archaeological investigation in Brito area, located in the west part of the Nicaragua Grand Canal, was held in the capital city of Nicaragua, Managua. The Nicaragua Canal and Development Project Commission, National University Council and HKND Group jointly organized the symposium.
More than 200 Nicaraguan experts and scholars of archaeology, anthropology, sociology, history and biology, among other fields attended the event to discuss the results of this archaeological work. The experts showed great interest in the pre-Columbian artifacts and sites discovered in Brito area in the Pacific coast of Nicaragua, and are excited about the numerous potential research subjects and opportunities created by the preconstruction archaeological investigation of the Nicaragua Canal Project.
Also were present at the event Manuel Coronel Kautz, President of the Nicaragua Canal and Development Project Commission; Laureano Ortega, advisor of PRONicaragua and member of the Canal Commission; Dr. Paul Oquist, Private Secretary for National Policies to the Presidency of Nicaragua and Executive Secretary of the Canal Commission; Telémaco Talavera, President of the National University Council of Nicaragua and spokesman of the Canal Commission; Luis Morales Alonso, Co-Director of the Nicaraguan Institute of Culture, as well as Bill Wild, Chief Project Advisor of HKND Group.
The experts who leaded the archaeological work in Brito area also attended. The archaeologist and historian Dr. Patrick Werner and Sagrario Balladares, the coordinator of the Archeological Documentation and Research Center (CADI) at the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (UNAN), presented in detail to the experts and scholars the methodologies, results and academic significance of this investigation.
According to Dr. Werner and Professor Balladares, this is the first systematic and the largest excavation that has been done in the Pacific of Nicaragua. The work carried out totally complies with related Nicaraguan law. The process was scientific and rigorous. The methodology applied preserved the artifacts and the integrity of the relics to the maximum extent.
Over 5,000 pieces of artifacts dating from 500 BC to 1550 AD were recovered from this archeological excavation, including a large number of Luna Polychrome fragments. Luna Polychrome is found exclusively in Central America, considered as luxury items in pre-Columbian era. The pottery is characterized by a distinct cream white paint and beautiful abstract images; the painting and manufacturing process of Luna ceramics remains to be studied in future. Besides, the most significant finding of the team is an intact jar for salt production and 14 fire pits, serving as the first salt production evidence in Pre-Columbian Nicaragua.
Dr. Werner expressed that “the research and information obtained from this work are completely new, and contribute to our understanding of the ancient cultures, societies and economy of Nicaragua before the conquest”.
Professor Balladares thinks that these findings extended people’s knowledge about the ancient human activities on the Pacific coast of Nicaragua. The preconstruction archaeological investigation is based on the results and recommendations of the preliminary archaeological survey as part of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) carried out by Environmental Resources Management (ERM). The investigation lasted 2 months.
On 11 March 2016, HKND Group handed over to the Canal Commission the Report of Preconstruction Archaeological Investigation in Brito and all the artifacts discovered during the course of the excavation. Considering the significance of the archaeological results of this investigation, the Canal Commission decided to invite experts and scholars in related fields in Nicaragua to conduct this symposium.
The Executive Secretary of the Canal Commission, Dr. Paul Oquist stated that the Canal Project will certainly bring Nicaragua significant changes in many aspects, including archeology, and offer an important opportunity for the identification and protection of national cultural heritages of Nicaragua.
Many experts present felt excited about the involvement of local talents in the Canal Project and showed strong interest in the research subjects and opportunities created by the Project. They wish to be further involved in the archeology and other relevant researches for the Canal Project.
“For us the archeology project is a great opportunity, which enables our students to carry out field study and research based on the theoretical knowledge and gradually improve individual professional level,” Professor Sagrario Balladares, who is in charge of archeology work of UNAN, highlighted.
The spokesman of the Canal Commission, Telemaco Talavera commented that the Canal Project serves as a large research laboratory in Nicaragua. The research on archeology and other subjects carried out along the Canal fills the gap in many fields of Nicaragua. Meanwhile, the Canal Project developer HKND Group has invited many local experts to participate in the research process, offering a historic investigation opportunity for the scientific and academic circles.
Talavera highlighted that the Nicaragua Interoceanic Grand Canal Project is much more than an excavation project. It’s a project of significant economic, cultural and social values.
Bill Wild, Chief Project Advisor of HKND Group emphasized that the preconstruction archaeological investigation of the Canal Project is a necessary step before the major work, which fully complies with the international best practice and Nicaraguan Law. During the construction, if any previously unknown cultural heritage is encountered, HKND will strictly execute the “chance find” procedures in accordance to the international standards, including timely reporting, evaluation and appropriate treatment, which will maximize the protection of cultural relics and heritages.