|23 September 2007
Ancient Chinese sites threatened by water project
An ambitious water diversion project in China risks submerging cultural relics up to 4000 years old, despite efforts by heritage officials to rescue them. With just three years left before the South-North Water Diversion Project - a $25-billion scheme to divert water from China's lush south to its parched north - is finished, only one third of the preservation project has been completed. The relics along the path of the water project are 'far more valuable' than those along the Three Gorges Dam project, both in terms of quality and quantity, according to Li Taoyuan, an archaeologist involved in the preservation project. "Considering the work involved in excavating and protecting relics in the entire region (of the project), the time constraints defy imagination," he was quoted as saying.
Heritage workers have already cleared more than 2 000 tombs, temples and other cultural sites and have relocated about 10 000 pieces of ancient ceramic, copper, jade and bone objects - but these are only a fraction of relics that are worth saving in the area. A lack of funding and manpower are to blame for the slow progress of preservation works and archaeologists are also fighting to save the relics from professional robbers, the article said.
The 1300-kilometre route of the water project, which will pump water from a major tributary of the Yangtze river to Beijing by 2010, cuts across the relics-rich region dubbed 'the cradle of the Chinese civilisation'. The project will submerge numerous cultural relics, including sites from the Xia and Zhou dynasties dating back 3 000 to 4 000 years.
Source: Iol.co.za (18 September 2007)
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