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Thursday, November 24, 2022

Underwater Archaeology In India – Ocean Of Opportunities

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Anuradha: Namaste! right this moment we now have Dr. A S Gaur who’s a marine archaeologist. I first found underwater archaeology after I visited Dwarka. I learn a ebook by Dr. S R Rao who has finished archaeology in Dwarka. Then I realized that this was finished by the Nationwide Institute of Oceanography which is true subsequent to my house in Goa. 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 know every side of oceanography. That features physics, chemistry, and biology. A small group is engaged on underwater archaeology.

What’s Underwater Archaeology?

Sea stage isn’t 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 significant inhabitants of the coastal space was staying in that specific space.


Subsequently when sea ranges began rising these closely inhabited websites obtained submerged. Now that creates scope for underwater archaeology. In later intervals the vary of 1-2 meter sea stage has modified. In 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 might be affected. In Gujarat, within the historic interval, 1 meter has gone down. This implies no matter website was near the coast is now not accessible inside the coastal space. That’s how that website might be ample. These stays are one of many main scopes of underwater archaeology.


The second side we research is the shipwrecks. Proper from the Indus civilization, even previous to that one, delivery has been the key side of human society. That led to commerce and commerce with modern tradition and civilization. There’s a well-known reference that the individuals of the Indus Valley civilization traded with the individuals of Mesopotamia and Egyptian civilization via 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 while you evaluate it with Mesopotamia and  Egypt. Due to this fact maritime actions of the Indus valley civilization have been way more superior than we in contrast it to different modern civilizations. Within the strategy of touring many occasions human error, and climate circumstances all led to the drowning of the ship. We discovered a whole lot of shipwrecks alongside the Indian coastal space.

Underwater Archaeology Websites of India

Commerce and Commerce

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 mentions that gadgets from central India used to return to Varyakaja or Bharukachh. This just about included the expansion of any human society. Thus far we all know that this maritime exercise has performed a really essential function. As a result of the trade of concepts was one of many main features of development.

This maritime exercise or commerce route has performed a significant function to know. In any other case, if society lives in isolation it will likely be very tough to develop as huge as industrialization.

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

Underwater Archaeology in Gujarat

Now we have began from Gujarat the place we now have websites from all of the intervals, together with the Indus civilization, historic interval, and medieval interval. Gujarat had over 2000 kilometers of shoreline. We counted the variety of ports. Amongst them, we began the first-ever investigation at Dwarka and Wager Dwarka. That’s one place that’s indifferent from the remainder of Saurashtra by a Rann that is known as Okha Rann. There a specific space is known as 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 selection of web sites in Okhamandal like Dwaraka, Wager Dwarka, and Nageshwar. There are almost a dozen websites which can be from historic and medieval intervals. All these websites are related to some or different non secular system. Amongst them, the oldest is Nageshwar which is an Indus civilization website. Dwarka, or Wager Dwarka, and different websites are of the early medieval interval. That’s what we now have seen and investigated underwater.


In Dwarka, we now have discovered quite a lot of buildings in water depths of three to 10 meters. In these stone buildings, there have been partitions, sub coral, and semicircular stones amongst them. Curiously we now have discovered a lot of stone anchors. Anchors are required for boats. This means the harbor a part of it. If that harbor is likely one of the oldest harbors then we are able to discover these stays. Additionally from land excavations carried out by Dr. Rao and Deccan School. They clearly indicated that no matter proof that they had discovered signifies that 5 to 6 occasions of the realm Dwarka was submerged within the sea seashores.

In current occasions like in 2004, the tsunami has destroyed a significant a part of the japanese coast and in related sorts of cyclones that actually have an effect on coastal websites. This type of phenomenon might need come to Dwarka additionally however that’s recorded in several types. In reference to Mahabharata, Dwarka was submerged within the sea although that area is given in another way. However that is true that the key a part of this metropolis was destroyed by the ocean.

Wager Dwarka

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 courting again to the Indo-Roman interval. Could also be round 1800-2000 years outdated. This one is the oldest shipwreck in that specific space we now have discovered up to now. In Wager Dwarka, we now have discovered stunning fish from the land a part of it that dates to the late Indus Valley civilization. Say round 4000 years outdated. Expertise that was launched in that fish is just about just like what we’re getting right this moment. 

There was no change within the size of the fish. Once we inquired with native individuals, they urged that one can catch fish of 10-15 kilo. To catch that huge a fish one has to go a little bit deeper aspect. So to go that deeper aspect one has to drift on some form of raft to go inside.

Sacred Shells

Investigation in Wager Dwarka has urged that quite a lot of fishes are discovered there often. We obtained many corals akin 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 now have discovered a number of 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.

Now we have loads of proof in that space that implies that these have been persevering with their abroad commerce and commerce in Gujarat. Prabhasa is itself a Harappan website and there may be even pre-Harappan proof. An excavation finished by Deccan school says there was one warehouse simply on the riverside. Now we have investigated that space. That website might need served as a port previously. Now we 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 are you aware the age of those stone anchors?

A S Gaur: These are based mostly on the manufacturing typology. The earliest one is a special one. The newest one is a special one. These days iron is used. Earlier they used native stone and basalt. Based mostly on materials in addition to expertise we are able to come to know the age of stone anchors.

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

A S Gaur: From Somnath, we now have to go to Kodinar, which is 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 may be one round construction in Mul Dwarka simply standing as much as 4 -5 meters lengthy. Native individuals known as it Diwa Dandi, which suggests lighthouse. It was used till the Eighties when one cyclone hit and the highest portion was broken.

If our interpretation and native individuals’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 fascinating features of that space.

Underwater Archaeology excavations at Dwarka
Diver on the marine website of Dwarka

There may be proof that Gujarati merchants visited Socotra island which is south of Yemen. There may be 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 from the primary to the third century. Now we have discovered seals in Haque cave just like those in Bharuch. The names of the individuals have been just like what we’re getting in Bajracharya, within the Saputara cave.

Shikotra Mata Temple

Yet another necessary side is that there are a selection of coastal temples in Gujarat named Shikotra Mata. The Shikotra Mata time period might need originated from Shikotra, as a result of individuals have been going there constantly from Gujarat. Once they have been coming again after a secure journey, they worship Mata. Now we have seen in India that something that protects individuals is just worshipped.

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

A S Gaur: Related issues come within the story of Satyanarayana. All these tales are associated to the dealer group. Lothal, a well-known Harappan website that was speculated to be portside. Now the federal government of India is making this maritime heritage middle, one of many largest initiatives. Gujarat has witnessed probably the most necessary and essential components of maritime commerce and commerce. Buying and selling is the inheritance of Gujarati individuals 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 referred to as Dharapuri. It 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 may be one fascinating temple known as Loyaleshwar temple on the jetty. Loyali in Marathi means anchor. They 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. This can be a fort inside one small island. Now we have discovered stone anchors there.

Anchors from Goa Excavations
Anchors from Goa Excavations

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

A S Gaur: It seems that the Chinese language have been buying and selling as much as Kollam. From Kollam, they transported issues to the opposite on rafts. There may be 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 now have explored three to 4 shipwrecks on the southernmost island Minicoy.

Marine Sies on the East Coast of India

On the east coast, there’s a well-known place known as Poompuhar the place we now have explored. It was urged that like Dwarka on the west coast, an identical form of metropolis existed at Poompuhar throughout the Sangam interval. We get some proof of pottery or some buildings from intertidal zones to five-six meters in depth. Locals consider that the king forgot to have fun Indra’s pageant so 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 fascinating traditions. There have been 7 temples out of which 6 obtained submerged. There isn’t any file within the Indian books. These have been recorded by the British traveler. Based mostly on that info we now have explored. We will’t positively say these have been temples. However they’re man-made buildings we now have discovered 3-5 meter water depth, there are some stays even at 9-meter water depth. No matter custom exists there may be some actual reality in these tales.


Anuradha: How true is it that individuals 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 out there of that. It occurred abruptly. Throughout that point not everyone had cameras or different issues so no pictures are there, so this was a problem. 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 images of the identical have been revealed.

Vishakeshwara temple

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

Anuradha: It’s mentioned that Visakhapatnam is called after a Devi temple named Vishakha Devi. It could imply there may be Vishakeswara temple as properly. Folklore says that the temple was submerged once more due to some causes that the ocean engulfed it. It will likely be very fascinating to see if we really discover the stays of that temple.

A S Gaur: Now we have not but taken up that website. Then additional on we now have Chilka lake which was a really lively space of maritime exercise. Individuals used to go to southeastern Asian international locations. Many websites have been excavated in these areas which have been having some form of abroad connection. Additional north Tamralipti Port was well-known throughout 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. 

Underwater Archaeology – oceans or rivers or lakes?

Anuradha: I’ve learn some 15-Sixteenth CE Bengali poems wherein 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 every thing. Thus far we now have not gone to the freshwater as such. Now we have been concentrating on the coastal areas. There’s a quote from Arthashastra that claims water transport is simpler and cheaper than land transport. He acknowledged it as early as his time. He ensured the transportation from Magadha via the Ganges was simple for buying and selling. Riverbeds could not give an excessive amount of proof as rivers go on altering their course. Ghats on rivers additionally get renovated infrequently. 

Underwater Archaeology as a occupation

Anuradha: So for our listeners, I need to let you know that Anirudh Ji is likely one of the three solely marine archeologists we now have in India right this moment. Sir, inform us if any person desires to take up Underwater Archaeology as a occupation what are the choices they’ve? What’s the route they should take?

A S Gaur: Certified archeologists will need to have a grasp’s in archeology and historical historical past. He/She has to be taught diving. There may be a whole lot of new scope rising in India. This can be a virgin frontier. Websites might be developed as underwater tourism websites like Dwarka, Mahabalipuram, or Wager Dwarka the place water is clear. We will promote underwater heritage websites. Frequent individuals can’t 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 are able to additionally search for underwater websites. Even Indian home tourism might be developed to a larger extent and other people will adore it. 


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 may be one small factor in ASI. However it’s just about non-functional and we’re engaged on it. Now we 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 states has a giant scope each in analysis and in commercialization. Direct income to the states is coming via tourism. Persons are coming to be taught diving.

Paleo Shoreline

For scientific functions, we’re utilizing Underwater Archaeology instruments for understanding the paleo shoreline. Like oceanographers we are going to do some samples they are going to gather and they’ll attempt to analyze. If there may be undisputed proof {that a} website is current right here that nobody will construct underwater, nobody will make it too 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 via business and this information can be utilized.

Anuradha: There are alternatives in analysis, tourism, cultural heritage, and underwater heritage in Underwater Archaeology. There are ample alternatives if individuals 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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