A project taken on by the Goa-based National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), in a major find through, scientists have exhumed the ancient submerged place of the Harappan port-town of Dholavira which reveals India’s maritime history to the world.
Located in Gujrat, Dholavira was the biggest part-town of the Harappan civilization that flourished for about 1500 years. Scientists have been perplexed about the reason of the civilization to come to a sudden end. Archaeological excavations specify that the township included of the castle, the middle and the lower town.
Dholavira, which might have been hit by the tsunami, is the oldest well-known site in the world. As per NIO’s latest findings, there is sign of marine sediments probably carried to the site by an extreme oceanic event, which they attribute to the tsunami.
A group of marine archaeologists, palaeo-climatologists and geophysicists from NIO examined a un-dig area of the lower town using GPR, Ground Penetrating Radar.
What lay under the surface were remains of construction from the civilization that were hidden under a 2.5 to 3.5 meter thick layer of homogenous soil.
The scientists found fossils and foraminifera, microscopic organisms that build calcareous shells and live only in seawater, after systematically collecting and examining the soil samples. The attendance of these shells in the soil, powerfully suggests an episodic evidence of marine sediments in the part.
One of the most fascinating features of Dholavira is the presence of a 14-18 meters thick wall at the spot. Dr Rajiv Nigam, chief scientist, who led the research, sharing his thoughts said, “Most Harappan walls have fortification but nowhere have any walls been constructed with such thickness. This indicates that ancient Indians were aware of protection measures against the tsunami or storms surges. Harappans were thus pioneers in coastal disaster management. Most importantly, results of this study, opens the possibility that Dholavira, at least in part, could have been destroyed by such a tsunami,”
There comes the question as to why the citizens of Dholavira would prefer to build a civilization around such a defenseless area. “Dholavira was an economically strategic location. So they built the city despite being prone to storms and protected it with a thick wall,” added Nigam.
5000 years ago, Dholavira was fairly-connected to the ocean but it’s not anymore due to shifts owing to tectonic movement.
Additional research will enable NIO to date the calcareous shells and determine when the tsunami may have taken place. “We would like to pursue this project and are currently awaiting funds from the central government,” said Nigam.
For further research, close grid survey of the site is required and so NIO has applied to the Union ministry of art and culture. The budget for this is Rs 35 lakhs. NIO doesn’t have a authorization for excavation as the authority is only under the ASI, Archaeological Survey of India. They are hopeful that the ASI will go ahead with the excavation.
The Lost Civilization……Exploring Harappan Remains at Dholavira;Gujarat;India