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Indian sailing vessels from a 1745 AD.

Archaeologists may have located ancient port dating back 4,500 years in Goa

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Archaeologists have found an old wharf that points to the existence of an ancient port on the Zuari River near Goa, India. They say it may date back 4,500 years and be evidence of early trade on India's central west coast.

"This area was earlier known as Gopakapattinam. The exploration work on the site is done and scientists have found the steps going in the water. It is imminent that existence of such a big wall parallel to river indicates that it is remnant of a port," Rajiv Nigam, a government marine archaeologist, told The Economic Times .

The report says researchers from the National Institute of Oceanography in Goa are examining a 1.2 kilometer (.75 mile) wall along the river that they may date from between 3500 BC to 1000 AD. It is now buried, but archaeologists will excavate it. So far they've found cross walls submerged in water. To refine the age estimates, scientists will do radiocarbon and thermo-luminance dating of the sediment the dock sits on.

"We will now be submitting proposal to the Ministry of Earth Sciences and/or Goa government to conduct further detailed exploration of this site," Nigam said. "Also to unearth other buried structures, we want to do ground penetrating radar (GPR) survey in sandy beach area and seismic surveys in offshore area.”

He said thus far Gujarat, a state in India, is known only for its ancient cities and not ports or other archaeological features, adding there are many submerged ports on the west coast.

News site NDTV reports that researchers hope to discover a port similar to the Lothal city dockyard which is 4,500 years old, and was discovered by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in Gujarat in 1954. Lothal archaeological site was once one of the most prominent cities of the ancient Indus Valley civilization. A vibrant center of trade in the ancient world, gems, beads and valuable artifacts were traded from as far away as Africa and West Asia.

Ancient structures, wells, docks, walls, pottery, tools, and an acropolis have been excavated at the archaeological site of Lothal, in Gujarat, India. Researchers hope to find this level of discovery along the Zuari River near Goa.

Ancient structures, wells, docks, walls, pottery, tools, and an acropolis have been excavated at the archaeological site of Lothal, in Gujarat, India. Researchers hope to find this level of discovery along the Zuari River near Goa. (Emmanuel DYAN/ CC BY 2.0 )

Goa itself, despite being the smallest state, has been influential in India’s long history. Dating back 20,000 to 30,000 years, Goa’s Paleolithic and Mesolithic rock art engravings revealing some of the earliest indications of human life in India.

Rock cut engraving found in the Indian state of Goa dating back 8000 BC.

Rock cut engraving found in the Indian state of Goa dating back 8000 BC. ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )

Archaeologists are keen to continue to unearth what may be the oldest signs of human trade on the central west coast of India.

Nigam said to NDTV, “If we get the proposal sanctioned, we will be able to conduct entire study within two years. This can be a major tourist attraction in Goa.”  

Featured Image: Indian sailing vessels from a 1745 AD. ( Public Domain )

By Mark Miller

Comments

Well said Tom,but if you think US and other developed nation spending on preserving of ancient relics or artifacts etc is less then imagine how much countries like India or other developing nations might spend and that too being an ancient civilizations by themselves, how many millions or relics and artifacts would have got destroyed once and for all without being a part of communication age. It is a real shame.

Fascinating that a large port can lie sunken under the water.  And how many other thousands of such ports exist around the world?  I suspect a lot.

We know so little of our past, due to our “modern” attitude of superiority, but more importantly to the almost complete lack of funds available for archaeology and anthropology.  Instead, most of the world’s wealth goes to a handful of people and to their militaries to insure their wealth.  The US military spends more on air conditioning (over $20 billion a year), than the entire NASA budget of under $19 billion.

So imagine what paltry funds go into researching important finds such as an entire sunken port city?  What happened?  Could it happen again?  And again?  

Thousands of sites on land remain unexplored because of lack of funds, but even more sites must exist underseas.  But it costs mone, especially to work under water, and not many projects get any funding at all.

 

Tom Carberry

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