Kenya: Chinese experts arrive for a ship excavation project

By Maureen Mudi - All Africa

The second phase of the historical underwater ship excavation in a Sh300 million partnership project in the Coastal region is set to commence this November with the arrival of Chinese archeologists in the country.

A 13-member delegation has been in the country since two weeks ago to conduct surveillance over the expected archeological sites in Mombasa and Malindi-Mambrui/Ngomeni area, according to the National Museums of Kenya assistant director, Coastal region, Athman Hussein.

The excavation will, however, this time be unique since for the first time in the history of African archeology, it will be beamed live all over the world, with a team of 25 archeologists in Mombasa and Mambrui, simultaneously conducting the exercise.

"A team of 80 Chinese experts including those from CCTV will be around to ensure the historical event is filmed and transmitted to the whole world as a way to help market Kenya as an underwater cultural heritage hub," Athman said.

The Mambrui wreck, according to Athman, is a local ship believed to be between 150-200 years old, while the Mombasa channel has two wreckages, both assumed to have been ships from the Portuguese which sunk in the 17th century and are near Fort Jesus.

"The ship had begun being excavated in the 1980s but due to shortage of funds, the process was stopped, but now its back, with the assistance of the Chinese," Athman said.

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