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Historic preservation in the U.S. often features battles to save century-old architectural classics from urban renewal. But it can look a lot different in the non-New World. Just over a century ago, a British colonialist happened upon massive ruins unknown to anyone except a few locals in the Sri Lankan jungle. Subsequent excavations unearthed the ancient capital city of Pollunaruwaurban renewal of an entirely different sort. By the time author William J. Murtagh
visited the country, preservation in the developing world involved restoring ancient wonders and protecting them from sack, not by rival kingdoms, but by the hordes of tourists whose money keeps the preservationists in business. Hear Murtagh’s observations on “Preservation in a Non-Western World,” specifically Southeast Asia and Oceania, as he signs copies of his newly revised Yankee standby, Keeping Time: The History and Theory of Preservation in America. At 6 p.m. at the National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW. $12. For reservations call (202) 272-2448. (Michael Schaffer)