Three Gorges Probe

Deadline diggers: Archeologists race against the clock

China Daily
December 17, 2005

The 100 teams toiling to save relics in the Three Gorges area ‘are fighting a losing battle, racing against a deadline they simply can’t hope to meet,’ China Daily reports.

A team of workers is toiling round the clock at the world’s largest construction site. Its interest, however, is not in securing completion of the Three Gorges dam. Rather it is trying to unearth potential treasure troves before they are lost forever. But the archaeologists are fighting a losing battle, racing against a deadline they simply can’t hope to meet. Around 100 teams from around the world have formed the largest ever archaeological research group in a desperate bid to search and save valuable relics along a 600-kilometre-long area which will soon be inundated by water. They started work last year and have since toiled day and night. The reason for their haste is the size of the area they are attempting to cover and the deadline they face. They hope to finish the unearthing work of thousands of square kilometres in 18 months. Some have estimated that to do the job properly would take the same number of archaeologists 50 years. So far, they have managed to probe 1.2 million square metres. They have only five months left to the end of this year, when the dam will begin to store water. The area they can hope to cover accounts for only 8 per cent of the total. That is why many people worry that the giant multi-billion dollar (unofficial estimates put the figure as high as US$75 billion) Three Gorges Dam scheme will wash away much of the country’s history, while bringing the best long-term interest to the world’s most populous nation. For Chinese archaeologists, the main concern is for the 1,200-plus sites of ancient civilization which will be inundated when the waters of the dam submerge a very important area in Central China.

Categories: Three Gorges Probe

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