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Experts survey seabed off Gujarat for Dwarka evidence

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« on: August 22, 2007, 02:12:01 am »

Experts survey seabed off Gujarat for Dwarka evidence

New Delhi, Aug 17 : A group of archaeological experts and Indian Navy divers have conducted the first scientific survey off the Gujarat coast to establish whether or not the ruins on the seabed are of the mythological city of Dwarka, the capital of Hindu god Krishna.

"The area off the Samudranaraya temple at (present day) Dwarka is known to contain structures which have been widely reported and interpreted by renowned scholars. However, no scientific study of the area had been conducted so far," Alok Tripathi of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) told reporters here Friday.

"We found building blocks and collected samples. These have been sent for dating to establish the antiquity of the site," Tripathi, who is the ASI's only marine archaeologist, added.

A 21-member team conducted the survey in January-February. It comprised 10 specialists from the ASI and 11 divers of the Indian Navy. A report on the survey will be presented at a seminar on the Maritime Heritage of the Indian Ocean here Aug 23-24.

"While the ASI has the requisite data and archaeological expertise, the Indian Navy has the necessary wherewithal and expertise for subsurface search, exploration and recovery of artefacts," Rear Admiral, S.P.S. Cheema, assistant chief of naval staff (Information Warfare and Operations), explained of the collaboration.

"Before the excavation, naval divers were indoctrinated by ASI experts on the procedures and method to be followed during the investigation. These included aspects like documentation, controlled digging, and the retrieval, packaging and transportation of samples," Cheema said.

"The idea was to achieve maximum extraction without damaging the environment," he added.

Before commencing diving operations, a specialised naval hydrographic team systematically surveyed the area off Dwarka with the help of multi-beam sonar and side-scan sonar. The navy had deployed its survey ship INS Nirdeshak for this in November 2006.

"This enabled us generate a 3D model of the seabed so we could narrow down the area of search. We initially marked out a 200 metre by 200 metre area and eventually narrowed this down to 50x50 metre area," Tripathi explained.

This is the third time such a joint operation has been undertaken. The first was in 2002 off Bagram in the Lakshwadeep Islands in the Arabian Sea to unearth the remains of the Princess Royal, a British passenger ship that sank in the 19th century.

In 2005, submerged remains off Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu were unearthed.

--- IANS

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