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Underwater Archaeology in India – Ocean of Alternatives


Anuradha – Namaste! At this time we have now Dr. A S Gaur who’s a marine archaeologist. I first found underwater archaeology once I visited Dwarka. I learn a e-book by Dr. S R Rao who has achieved archaeology in Dwarka. Then I discovered that this was achieved by the Nationwide Institute of Oceanography which is true subsequent to my dwelling in Goa and I requested Dr. Anirudh Singh Gaur Ji to inform us a little bit bit about underwater archaeology. Anirudh ji welcome to the detours.

Underwater Archaeology in India

A S Gaur – Thanks a lot Anuradha ji. I’m glad that you are interested in maritime archeology. Let me clarify what underwater archaeology is! On the Nationwide Institute of Oceanography, our mandate is to grasp every side of oceanography that features physics, chemistry, and biology. A small group is engaged on underwater archaeology.

What’s Underwater Archaeology?

Sea stage is rarely static, each time it goes up and down. It’s mentioned round 1,000 years in the past the ocean stage was 100 meters decrease. At the moment a serious inhabitants of the coastal space was staying in that specific space. Subsequently when sea ranges began rising these closely inhabited websites acquired submerged. Now that creates scope for underwater archaeology. In later durations the vary of 1-2 meter sea stage has modified. Within the coastal areas like Gujarat or Tamil Nadu, the land formation is light and sloppy. So an increase of 1 meter additionally impacts a big space. Finally some coastal habitation shall be affected. In Gujarat, within the historic interval, 1 meter has gone down, which implies no matter website was near the coast is not accessible inside the coastal space. That’s how that website shall be considerable. These stays are one of many main scopes of underwater archaeology.

The second side we research within the shipwrecks,  proper from Indus civilization, even previous to that one delivery has been the most important side of human society. That led to commerce and commerce with the modern tradition civilization and there’s a well-known reference that folks of Indus Valley civilization traded with the folks of Mesopotamia and Egyptian civilization by means of the ocean route. Due to antiquity in Oman and the United Arab Emirates, this can’t undergo a land route as it will likely be the longest one and the ocean route would be the shortest one. The Indus Valley civilization had the longest shoreline of its territory if you evaluate it with Mesopotamia and  Egypt. Due to this fact maritime actions of Indus valley civilization have been way more superior than we evaluate it to different modern civilizations. Within the means of touring many occasions human error, climate circumstances all led to the drowning of the ship. We discovered a number of shipwrecks alongside the Indian coastal space.

Underwater Archaeology Map of India
Underwater Archaeology Websites of India

The third main side we attempt to perceive is commerce and commerce as a result of there are references. We get to say one international discover, like a peripheral of the company which mentions that gadgets from central India used to come back to Varyakaja or Bharukachh. This just about included the expansion of any human society to this point we all know that this maritime exercise has performed a really essential position as a result of with out that any development change of concepts was one of many main elements of development. This maritime exercise or commerce route has performed a significant position to grasp. In any other case, if society lives in isolation it will likely be very tough to develop as large as industrialization.

We see no matter basis of civilization was laid throughout Indus civilization continued till Newtonian science began on the planet and it was good. There was no want to change these explicit issues by way of city planning, metallurgy, or agricultural system.

Underwater Archaeology in Gujarat

We now have began from Gujarat the place we have now websites from all of the durations together with Indus civilization, historic interval, and medieval interval. Gujarat had over 2000 kilometers of shoreline. We counted the variety of ports and amongst them, we began the first-ever investigation at Dwarka and Wager Dwarka. That’s one place that’s indifferent from the remainder of the Saurashtra by a Rann that is named Okha Rann, and a selected space is named Okhamandal or earlier it was known as Usha Mandal. Usha was related to Aniruddha, one character in Mahabharata.

Stone Anchors from Bet Dwarka
Stone Anchors from Wager Dwarka

There are a variety of websites in Okhamandal like Dwaraka, Wager Dwarka, Nageshwar and there are almost a dozen websites which can be for historic and medieval durations. All these websites are related to some or one other non secular system. Amongst them, the oldest is Nageshwar which is an Indus civilization website. Dwarka, or Wager Dwarka, and different websites that are of the early medieval interval. That’s what we have now seen and investigated underwater. In Dwarka, we have now discovered a variety of buildings in water depths of three to 10 meters water depth. These stone buildings, there have been partitions, sub coral and semicircular stones amongst them. Curiously we have now discovered a lot of stone anchors. Anchors are required in boats, this means the harbor a part of it. If that harbor is likely one of the oldest harbors then we will discover these stays and land excavations carried out by Dr. Rao and Deccan School. They clearly indicated that no matter proof they’d discovered signifies that 5 to 6 occasions Dwarka was submerged within the sea seashores.

In current occasions like 2004, the tsunami has destroyed a serious a part of the japanese coast and in comparable sorts of cyclones which actually have an effect on coastal websites.  This sort of phenomenon might need come to Dwarka additionally however that’s recorded in numerous varieties. In reference to Mahabharata, Dwarka was submerged within the sea although that area is given in a different way however that is true that the most important a part of this metropolis was destroyed by the ocean.

At Wager Dwarka, we investigated close to to Jetty the place we discovered stays of a shipwreck. If our interpretation is right then it’s the oldest shipwreck relationship again to the Indo-Roman interval. Could also be round 1800-2000 years previous. This one is the oldest shipwreck in that specific space we have now discovered to this point. In Wager Dwarka, we have now discovered lovely fish from the land a part of it and that dates to late Indus Valley civilization say round 4000 years previous and know-how that was launched in that fish is just about much like what we’re getting in the present day.  There was no change within the size of the fish. Once we inquired native folks, they instructed that one can catch fish of 10-15 kilo and to catch that large fish one has to go a little bit deeper aspect, so to go that deeper one has to drift on some form of raft to go inside.

Investigation in Wager Dwarka has been instructed that quite a lot of fishes are discovered right here recurrently. We acquired many corals equivalent to sacred shells which symbolize Lord Vishnu. Once we moved from the Okhamandal area to the south then we got here to the place known as Mul Dwarka. In Porbandar, we have now discovered numerous proof of the medieval interval in addition to the British interval. Additional to the east, we’re having Navibandar the place the fort is simply on the coast. Fort was defending these mariners from pirates. We now have loads of proof in that space that recommend that these have been persevering with their abroad commerce and commerce in Gujarat. Prabhasa is itself a Harappan website and there’s even pre – Harappan proof.  An excavation achieved by Deccan faculty says there was one warehouse simply on the riverside. We now have investigated that space and that website might need served as a port previously. We now have clear proof from Harappan time until steady abroad commerce and commerce. For maritime exercise hardcore proof, one can get is the stone anchor.

Stone Anchors

Anuradha – How have you learnt the age of those stone anchors?

A S Gaur – These are primarily based on the manufacturing typology. The earliest one is a distinct one, the newest one is a distinct one. These days iron is used; earlier they used native stone and basalt. Based mostly upon materials in addition to the know-how we will come to know the age of stone anchors.

Anuradha – That are the oldest stone anchors that we have now discovered within the Gujarat space?

A S Gaur – From Somnath, we have now to go to Kodinar, there’s once more a Mul Dwarka website. Related form of Harappan website simply on the coast. There are half a dozen early historic websites in that space. There’s one round construction in Mul Dwarka simply standing as much as 4 -5 meters lengthy. Native folks known as it Diwa Dandi, which implies lighthouse. It was used till the Eighties when one cyclone hit and the highest portion was broken. If our interpretation and native folks’s perception is right then that is the oldest surviving lighthouse in India relationship again to the medieval interval, perhaps the 12-Thirteenth century. This is likely one of the most attention-grabbing elements of that space.

Underwater Archaeology excavations at Dwarka
Diver at marine website of Dwarka

There’s proof that Gujarati merchants visited Socotra island that’s south of Yemen. There’s one cave known as Haque cave the place investigation has revealed round 200 inscriptions. Out of 200 inscriptions, almost 180 inscriptions are in Brahmi, relationship again to the primary to the third century. We now have discovered seals in Haque cave much like those in Bharuch. The names of the folks have been much like what we’re getting in Bajracharya, within the Saputara cave. Another vital side is that there are a selection of coastal temples in Gujarat named Shikotra Mata. The Shikorta Mata time period might need originated from Shikotra as a result of folks have been going there repeatedly from Gujarat. When they’re coming again after a protected journey, they worship Mata. We now have seen in India that something that protects, folks merely worship.

Anuradha- It’s like Shakti which tries to guard, it’s guaranteeing the security of vacationers.

A S  Gaur –  Related issues come within the story of Satyanarayana. All these tales are associated to the dealer neighborhood. Lothal, a well-known Harappan website that was presupposed to be portside. Now the federal government of India is making this maritime heritage middle, one of many greatest tasks. Gujarat has witnessed one of the vital and essential elements of maritime commerce and commerce. Buying and selling is the inheritance of Gujarati folks from the start of civilization. In direction of south in Maharashtra, Sopara is a crucial place, like Elephanta buying and selling middle and plenty of extra.

Marine Archaeology in Maharashtra

Anuradha – Elephanta is a uncommon cave system that’s devoted solely to the Hindu deity Shiva. It actually has Shiva Purana written on its wall. What was it like an island which was utilized by merchants to remain or a port?

A S Gaur – This was really generally known as Dharapuri. It has served as a port throughout Indo-Roman commerce when throughout early historic occasions sea stage was decrease; maybe different ports like Kalyan or Sopara won’t be serving as a port. This was serving as a port. Proof like Roman cash and so many different issues are there.

Coming to the south right down to this Dabhol, there’s one attention-grabbing temple known as Loyaleshwar temple on the jetty. Loyali in Marathi means anchor, they usually have been worshiping one anchor in that temple as a Devi or Goddess. Dabhol is about 200 km south of Mumbai. Additional south there’s a Vijaydurga fort and one dockyard from the Maratha interval. There’s a place additional within the south known as Sindhudurg. It is a fort inside one small island and we have now discovered stone anchors from there.

Anchors from Goa Excavations
Anchors from Goa Excavations

In Goa, we have now found 4-5 shipwrecks. There’s a port website known as GopakaPattanam close to the Pilar space. We now have discovered proof of port and commerce relations with distant locations. In Kerala, we have now dived at Kollam. A number of Chinese language cash are discovered. It seems that there was one shipwreck in that space so once they have been dredging the port they discovered an enormous variety of cash and pottery.

Anuradha – It nonetheless continues to make use of Chinese language nets in that area and within the fishing business.

AS Gaur – It seems that the Chinese language have been buying and selling as much as Kollam. From Kollam, they transported issues to the opposite rafts. There’s one Chinese language colony in Kollam named Cheena Kottaram. One anchor was present in Gujarat close to Hatha, which is one thing like Chinese language.

In Lakshadweep, we have now explored three to 4 shipwrecks on the southernmost island Minicoy.

Marine Sies on East Coast of India

On the east coast, there’s a well-known place known as Poompuhar the place we have now explored. It was instructed that like Dwarka on the west coast, an identical form of metropolis existed at Poompuhar through the Sangam interval. We get some proof of pottery or some buildings in from intertidal zones to five-six meters depth. Locals imagine that the king forgot to have a good time Indra’s pageant so the town was submerged. Now we all know that this occasion occurred.

Stone Anchors from Dwarka
Stone Anchors from Dwarka

Little north, in Mahabalipuram there are attention-grabbing traditions there have been 7 temples out of which 6 acquired submerged. There isn’t a report within the Indian books, these have been recorded by the British traveler after which primarily based on their info we have now explored. We are able to’t undoubtedly say these have been temples however they’re man-made buildings and we have now discovered 3 – 5 meter water depth there are some stays even at 9-meter water depth. No matter custom exists there’s some actual fact in these tales.

Anuradha – How true is it that folks say that the tsunami got here in 2004 and when the water retreated, these buildings have been seen?

A S Gaur – No pictures or satellite tv for pc imagery is on the market of that. It occurred all of the sudden, and through that point not all people had cameras or different issues so no pictures are there, so this was a difficulty. Many individuals have knowledgeable us they’ve seen temples when it was uncovered. In archeology, we classify these as habitation websites. If we didn’t get any pottery websites or these issues we advise it is probably not a habitational space, this can be one thing else. Until nineteenth CE there have been stays like pillars, and pictures of the identical have been printed. 

Shifting northwards, in Vishakeshwara temple some work was carried out by Andhra college the place the medieval interval temple was submerged within the sea, some comparable sorts of issues of pure occasions might have destroyed it.

Anuradha – It’s mentioned that Visakhapatnam is called after a Devi temple named Vishakha Devi. It could imply there’s Vishakeswara temple as effectively. Folklore says that the temple was submerged once more due to some causes that the ocean engulfed it. It is going to be very attention-grabbing to see if we really discover the stays of that temple.

A S Gaur – We now have not but taken up that website. Then additional on we have now Chilka lake that was a really energetic space of maritime exercise. Folks used to go to southeastern Asian nations and plenty of websites have been excavated in these areas which have been having some form of abroad connection. From additional north Tamralipti Port which was well-known through the early historic time which was simply within the estuaries and Ganges. Commerce used to occur from right here to plains of Ganga like Varanasi and Kanpur. 

Anuradha- I’ve learn some 15 -Sixteenth CE Bengali poems by which they point out this. Do you do Underwater Archaeology solely in oceans or in rivers or lakes additionally?

A S Gaur – Once we say Underwater Archaeology it’s going to embrace all the pieces. To date we have now not gone within the freshwater as such, we have now been concentrating within the coastal areas. There’s a quote from Arthashastra that claims water transport is less complicated, cheaper than land transport. He acknowledged it as early as his time. He ensured the transportation from Magadha by means of the Ganges was simple for buying and selling. Riverbeds might not give an excessive amount of proof as rivers go on altering the course. Ghats on rivers additionally get renovated occasionally. 

Underwater Archaeology as occupation

Anuradha – So for our listeners, I need to inform you that Anirudh ji is likely one of the three solely marine archeologists we have now in India in the present day. Sir, inform us if any person needs to take it up Underwater Archaeology as a occupation what are the choices they’ve, and what’s the route they must take?

A S Gaur – Certified archeologists should have a grasp’s in archeology and historical historical past. He has to be taught diving. There’s a number of new scope rising in India. It is a virgin frontier and websites might be developed as underwater tourism websites like in Dwarka, Mahabalipuram or Wager Dwarka the place water is clear. We are able to promote underwater heritage websites. Widespread folks cannot perceive it. It’s skilled archeologists who can open this department and take it ahead. Similar to the Taj Mahal, Qutub Minar, and different such monuments, we will additionally search for underwater websites. Even Indian home tourism might be developed to a larger extent and folks will find it irresistible. 

Anuradha – What are the avenues? Who can make use of me? What do you see is the scope of Marine or Underwater Archaeology?

A S Gaur – Truly there’s one small factor in ASI  however it’s just about non-functional and we’re engaged on it. We now have simply marketed one or two posts. We’re going to get a few individuals who will proceed right here. India has a giant scope, every a part of our coastal state has a giant scope each in analysis and in commercialization. Direct income to the state is coming by means of tourism. Persons are coming to be taught diving.

For scientific functions, we’re utilizing Underwater Archaeology instruments for understanding the paleo shoreline. Like oceanographers we’ll do some samples they may accumulate and they’ll attempt to analyze. If there’s undisputed proof {that a} website is present right here that nobody will construct underwater, nobody will make two away from the shoreline. That is the proof that clearly signifies the motion of the shoreline with altering sea ranges. We need to develop the coastal space by means of business and this knowledge can be utilized.

Anuradha – There are alternatives in analysis, tourism, cultural heritage, and underwater heritage in Underwater Archaeology. There are ample alternatives if folks take it. Nice sir!  Thanks for giving us an introduction to Underwater Archaeology.

Transcription by Pallavi Thakur as a part of IndiTales Internship Program



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