Discoveries in Archaeology from the Gulf of Cambay

Discoveries in Archaeology from the Gulf of Cambay



Gulf of Cambay - Kutch MapThe carbon dating of the wooden artifact, which was recently carried out by the Birbal Sahani Institute of Palaeobotony and the National Geophysical Research Institute, indicates that the settlements, accidentally discovered by a team of oceanographers, could be one of the oldest Neolithic sites discovered in India till date.

The discovery follows a series of surveys conducted by the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) during 2000 to 2001. According to Dr B. Sasisekaran, research associate in the National Science Academy, ‘‘The carbon dating of 7,500 B.C. obtained for the wooden piece recovered from the site changes the earlier held view that the first cities appeared on the horizon around 3,500 B.C. (the Sumer valley around circa 3,000 B.C. and at Harappa circa 2,500 B.C.)’’.

The material collected at the site include artefacts, possible construction elements with holes and studs, pot shreds, beads and fossil bones.

At a press conference today, Minister for Science and Technology and Ocean Development, Murli Manohar Joshi, said, ‘‘The impact of these discoveries will be far-reaching. Not only would they link various theories regarding earliest human settlements in the country, it would also open avenues for understanding the geomorphic characteristics of the Gulf of Cambay.’’ The presence of an archaeological site indicative of a very ancient culture in the Gulf of Cambay was first announced by the ministry in May last year.

Subsequently, further underwater explorations were carried out in the area which yielded a cache of artifacts suggesting an ancient culture.

Professor S.N. Rajguru, former joint director and head of department of Archaeology at Deccan College, said, ‘‘These collections representan exciting breakthrough in offshore archaeology. The findings indicate that the entire landscape between Bhavnagar and Hazira were probably connected around 7,000 B.C.’’

The acoustic images of the area present channel-like features, indicating the presence of a river in the region ‘‘Geometrical structures and the antiquities have been discovered in an area only within 200 m adjoining the channel indicating human activity on the banks of the river that was present at that time,’’ Prof Rajguru added.

Having discovered indications of a possible settlement earlier in 2001, NIOT scientists undertook a confirmatory survey in November 2001 in the Gulf of Cambay area, by using advanced marineunderwater survey techniques with side-scan sonar and sub-bottom profiler.

Images taken of the site revealed structures similar to staircases, temples and bathrooms, said Joshi, adding that further investigations were necessary.He said the findings would be submitted to scientific journals within 10-15 days.‘‘Further investigation of this area is important as this has implications and might throw some light on the development of humancivilisation, besides having a bearing on Indian history,’’ Joshi said.

Accordingly, the government has decided to form a specialised group of archaeological experts from NIOT, National Institute of Oceanography, Archaeological Survey of India, Physical Research Laboratory, Lucknow and BSIP and NGRI.