Preserving the Underwater Cultural Heritage of Dwarka




Internationally renowned marine archaeologist Dr S R Rao today called for preservation of underwater cultural heritage, particularly the Dwarka city, believed to have been built by Lord Krishna in Gujarat.

Speaking at the 7th national conference on marine archaeology of Indian ocean countries at the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Dr Rao regretted that many of the archaeological remains excavated were not preserved for posterity by the agency conducting the excavation.

He pointed to the neglect of the excavated Harappan site of Kalibangan. The Lothal site was, however, preserved and a museum built for it, he added.

Most of the important underwater sites of Dwarka excavated by the NIO’s Marine Archaeology Centre (MAC) with funds from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Department of Science and Technology and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) should have been preserved by a competent agency, he said.

With neither the CSIR nor the ASI having expertise to undertake conservation of a submerged city, the octogenarian archaeologist said he had prepared a project report in consultation with a number of organisations and individuals including the Indian Navy, research foundations and underwater construction engineers.

On the controversy regarding date of submerged site of Dwarka near the Gomti river mouth in Arabian Sea, Dr Rao said the archaeologists could not arrive at the date in isolation, but relied on relative chronology such as pottery and the sea-level rise.

”We are of the view that Dwarka was submerged by tsunami-like high energy waves, pulling down heavy blocks of stone used in the construction of the structures. This must have also resulted in changing the course of the paleo channel of Gomti, as recorded by NIO maritime archaeologist K H Vora during recent studies,” he said.

The reference to such a catastrophe was made in the Mahabharata and other epics which said Dwarka, built on mainland by Lord Krishna, was contemporary to Bet Dwarka (Kusasthali) that could be dated to 17th century BC, and this was later confirmed by scientists, he said.

Lord Dwarkadisa

Dr Rao said the three-holed triangular stone anchors found in large numbers in Dwarka waters suggested a continuity in evolution of the anchors in Lothal and Mohenjo-Daro, which had a single hole.

The Dwarka anchors of late Harappan phase are a couple of centuries older than the identical anchors of late Bronze Age used in Cyprus and Syria, he added.

The two-day conference is being held under the aegis of the Society of Marine Archaeology at NIO.


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