People have always been fascinated and inspired by the story of human becoming. Particularly, of the parts of that story which they have no easy access to, like the traces left behind in underwater. Despite being an arduous task, exploring for what is beneath the sea is a popular pastime, and an academic discipline. By virtue of its strategic geographical position at the centre of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka has long attracted seafarers from East to West, for trade, plunder, and conquest. A tentative estimate of the number of wrecks around the Island is now exceeding one hundred, which makes it an undisputed paradise for the pursuit of marine investigations of archaeology, heritage, and marine biodiversity.
The National Shipwreck Database of Sri Lanka is an inimitable exertion by the Central Cultural Fund, Maritime Archaeology Unit, Institute of Archaeology and Heritage studies, and Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands to furnish thousand-years-old human voyage, through sharing the research accomplished in Sri Lankan waters during three decades by the Central Cultural Fund, National Aquatic Research & Development Agency, and Sri Lanka Navy. Being a collaborative project, the database is set out to offer access to the data for everyone.
Each wreck tells a unique story and studying them meticulously and intensively is of paramount importance. Aiding in this quest, shipwrecks available in the database contain details such as the ship's name, locality, other names, operation period, wreck type, depth, legal status, discovery date, and access restriction. Moreover, 80 shipwreck sites are further enhanced by short videos and photographs, descriptions, and related research. The database is further embellished by interactive maps, maritime timelines, storytelling, shipwreck dashboards, and related publications. Some sensitive data of protected shipwrecks is available upon written request.
Other than being informative, this database is a spotlight of collaborative work of private sector organizations with different capabilities and government institutions to enrich the knowledge dissemination and preservation of Sri Lankan heritage in digital format for the future generation.