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Jamaica's World Heritage Sites (tentative list) The Underwater City of Port Royal
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Jamaica currently has no sites on the World Heritage List. The Underwater City of Port Royal was added to Jamaica’s tentative list under the Cultural category in 2009 and has been nominated to be considered by UNESCO for inscription on the Wold Heritage List in 2012 – a decision has not been made.
Port Royal is one of the premier English archaeological sites of the Americas. Port Royal has been called many names throughout history - “the wickedest city on earth", “the most wicked and sinful city in the world” , “the city that sank” and the “the Sodom of the New World”. Located on the southeast coast of Jamaica, Port Royal was home to British buccaneers and explorers in the 17th century. Because of its strategic location, Port Royal became the base for the British Royal Navy in the Caribbean and also the commercial hub of the Caribbean and the most economically important English port in the Americas. Port Royal by 1692 had an estimated population between 7,000 to 8,000 persons in approximately 2,500 dwellings. It quickly became the largest and most affluent English town in the Americas. Overtime, Port Royal developed a reputation for loose morals and gaudy displays of wealth. It was a buccaneers' paradise, with one in every four building said to be a bar or a brothel. During its heydays, Port Royal covered 51 acres and was laid out with broad unpaved streets, named after popular streets in London, each lined with buildings one to four stories high with brick sidewalks along the front of many of the buildings.
The glory days of Port Royal ended on June 7, 1692 when a devastating earthquake struck the island. Within minutes two thirds of the entire town disappeared underwater, killing an estimated 2,000 people. Of the original 51 acres, 20 sank to a depth of 10 feet and 13 slid to a depth of 35 feet. Streets filled with warehouses, ships in the harbour, the cemetery and one by one the forts, disappeared under the rising waves. Now, beneath the ground and the adjacent water of Kingston Harbour lies the only sunken city in the New World, a city that played a pivotal role in Caribbean politics and economics. Many viewed this horrific event as God’s punishment for unlawful actions by a group of sinful people.
Today the area is a shadow of its former self with a population of less than 2,000 and has little to no commercial or political importance. The sunken, algae-covered remnants of the city are in murky waters in an archaeological preserve closed to divers without a permit. Underwater excavations have turned up artefacts including cannonballs, wine glasses, ornate pipes, pewter plates and ceramic plates dredged from the muck just offshore. The partial skeleton of a child was found in 1998. As the only sunken city in the Western Hemisphere, the assemblage of buildings both on land and underwater illustrate a vivid picture of life during the era of colonial expansion in the new world.
The Underwater City of Port Royal is currently being managed the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT). Some of the challenges in managing and developing the site are as follows:
Black, A. (2013). Sunken Pirate City at Port Royal. [online] Available at: http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/s...-at-port-royal [Accessed: 8 Nov 2013].
 Lanthier, N. (2007). Talk tells story of Jamaican 'underwater city'. [online] Available at: http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/n...8-8a961027b167 [Accessed: 9 Nov 2013].
Henderson, B. (2012). Jamaica seeks heritage status for sunken Port Royal. [online] Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...ort-Royal.html [Accessed: 8 Nov 2013].
 Hamilton, D. (2006). Port Royal, Jamaica: archaeological past and development potential. R. Grenier, D. Nutley and I. Cochran (dir. publ.), Underwater cultural heritage at risk: managing natural and human impacts. ICOMOS [online], p. 49. Available at http://www.icomos.org/risk/2006/17hamilton2006an.pdf [Accessed: 8 Nov 2013].
 Davis, N. 2012. Jamaica's 'wickedest city' banks on heritage. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-lati...erica-18601357 [Accessed: 8 Nov 2013]
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