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Second Phase of the Preconstruction Archaeological Fieldwork Investigation in Brito Area of West Canal Completed 2016-5-20 15:10

· Pre-Columbian Salt Production Workshop First Discovered in Nicaragua

On 19 May 2016, a press conference on the results of the second phase of the preconstruction archaeological fieldwork investigation in Brito area of the West Canal was held at HKND Group’s Managua office.

At the press conference, members from the Nicaragua Grand Canal Commission, HKND Group and local archaeologists jointly unveiled the new finds, including a first-discovered pre-Columbian salt production workshop and a large number of artifacts and shreds.

In light of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) report delivered by Environmental Resources Management (ERM), a British consultancy as well as the investigation results and recommendations presented by the archeological team of the first phase archeological investigation, further excavations were carried out at four sites in Brito areas in this second phase, among which, two are located within the future construction area of the Canal while the other two are not. Experts believed that these cultural artifacts and historical relics are not exclusive to the Canal footprint; rather, they can also be found beyond construction areas and will not be affected by the Canal.

Press conference on the archaeological findings
(From left to right: Manuel Coronel Kautz, President of the Nicaragua Canal Commission;
Laureano Ortega, Advisor of PRONicaragua and member of the Nicaragua Canal Commission) 

Photograph: HKND Group

Nicaraguan archaeologists announced findings of the second phase of the archaeological investigation at the press conference
Photograph: HKND Group

One of the units of the first discovered pre-Columbian salt production workshop in Nicaragua, 5 meters long and 5 meters wide, with deepest part at 2 meters
Photograph: CADI at UNAN-Managua

The two expert teams, which undertook the first phase of the pre-construction archaeological investigation in Brito area under the leadership of Nicaraguan archaeologist and historian Dr. Patrick Werner and Professor Sagrario Balladares, Coordinator of the Archaeological Documentation and Research Center (CADI) at National Autonomous University of Nicaragua, Managua (UNAN-Managua), once again worked together with HKND Group to carry out this second phase excavation.

According to the archaeologists, the most noticeable findings of this exercise included several sizable pre-Columbian salt production units near the mangroves in Brito. Experts estimated that these facilities, which were unearthed for the first time in Nicaragua, could date back from 500AD to 1550 AD. After detailed excavation, investigation, analysis and study of the relics, experts from CADI at UNAN identified the salt production procedure and methods adopted by people living along the Pacific coast of Nicaragua in pre-Columbian era, and restored their salt-making process. In order to obtain precise chronological information, with the support by HKND Group, archaeologists collected six samples of the uncovered relics, and delivered them to a laboratory in Miami, the US for Carbon-14 dating test.

Lithic artifacts of pre-Columbian era discovered in the second phase of the archaeological investigation 
Photograph: CADI at UNAN-Managua

Wang Yang, Public Relations Assistant to CEO of HKND Group, stated in the speech that all the artifacts would be delivered to the government once the logging and analysis are concluded. Nicaragua has a great history that should be preserved for present and future generations.

He emphasized that the preconstruction archaeological investigation is a necessary step before commencing Canal major works and also a common practice for large-scale projects throughout the world. The investigation results presented by the archaeologists manifested that the relics in Brito area are not exclusive to areas along the Canal route, as similar artefacts are replicable in adjacent areas that are not affected by construction. Therefore, it is established that, following the international best practices, the construction work should proceed with Chance Find Procedure. Timely reporting, evaluation and appropriate treatment will be carried out for any chance findings, to maximize the protection of cultural relics and heritages.

 “Thanks to the Canal Project, the people of Nicaragua can better understand its own ancient culture,” said Manuel Coronel Kautz, President of the Nicaragua Canal Commission.

“We noticed that in this archaeological excavation, in addition to specialists, students in related subjects also participated. It has provided our young people with a valuable opportunity, enabling them to learn in practice and contribute to the Canal Project and this megaproject is set to promote the country’s economic, social, cultural, academic development,” highlighted Telemaco Talavera, spokesman of the Canal Commission.

Kamilo Lara, environmentalist and member of the Technical Advisory Committee of the Nicaragua Canal Commission indicated, “the findings enriched our understanding of the history and culture of Nicaragua. If there were no such excavation conditions provided by the Canal Project, the relics would have been lost.”

Luis Morales Alonso, co-director of the Nicaraguan Institute of Culture, spoke highly of the rigorous archaeological works accomplished by HKND. “For us, it is a great satisfaction to see how they discovered the salt processing workshop of pre-Columbian era, different types of artefacts and the rigor with which they have been working on these excavations,” said Luis Morales.

Laureano Ortega, advisor of PRONicaragua and member of the Canal Commission, chaired the meeting. Others present at the event included Xu Changbao, General Manager of Nicaragua Office, HKND Group; Nicaraguan archaeologist Dr. Patrick Werner and his team; and representatives from CADI at UNAN-Managua, among others.