Monday, March 16, 2009

Lost treasures to be brought home

Plans to reacquire Sri Lankan archaeological and religious artifacts housed in foreign museums are underway after the government approved a proposal by Urban Development and Sacred Area Development Minister Dinesh Gunawardene.

The minister told The Sunday Times this was in accordance with the report of a Presidential Commission which had recommended steps to reacquire religious relics taken out of the country during the colonial period. This is to be done through bodies such as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

“During the colonial period, archaeological treasures belonging to various religious institutions were taken away. There is a UNESCO understanding that that these items should be returned to their countries of origin,” Mr. Gunawardene said.

Details of such items taken from Sri Lanka were disclosed at hearings of the presidential commission appointed to look into matters relating to the Buddha Sasana. Former Archaeology Commissioners who served in the colonial days had recorded in their journals details of artifacts taken out of the country, the minister said.

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