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Significant finds at Dwaraka

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THE QUEST: An underwater archaeologist of the ASI examines an ancient structure off the shore of Dwaraka; a circular structure on the shore at Dwaraka; fragment of an ancient structure found underwater; remains of an ancient structure in the forecourt of the Dwarakadhish temple.
THE QUEST: An underwater archaeologist of the ASI examines an ancient structure off the shore of Dwaraka; a circular structure on the shore at Dwaraka; fragment of an ancient structure found underwater; remains of an ancient structure in the forecourt of the Dwarakadhish temple.

T.S. Subramanian

Ancient structures, under water and on land, discovered

CHENNAI: Ancient structural remains of some significance have been discovered at Dwaraka, under water and on land, by the Underwater Archaeology Wing (UAW) of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). Alok Tripathi, Superintending Archaeologist, UAW, said the ancient underwater structures found in the Arabian Sea were yet to be identified. "We have to find out what they are. They are fragments. I would not like to call them a wall or a temple. They are part of some structure," said Dr. Tripathi, himself a trained diver.

Thirty copper coins were also found in the excavation area. The structures found on land belonged to the medieval period. "We have also found 30 copper coins. We are cleaning them. After we finish cleaning them, we can give their date," he said.

Dwaraka is a coastal town in Jamnagar district of Gujarat. Traditionally, modern Dwaraka is identified with Dvaraka or Dvaravati, mentioned in the Mahabharata as Krishna's city. Dwaraka was a port, and some scholars have identified it with the island of Barka mentioned in the Periplus of Erythrean Sea. Ancient Dwaraka sank in sea and hence is an important archaeological site.

The first archaeological excavations at Dwaraka were done by the Deccan College, Pune and the Department of Archaeology, Government of Gujarat, in 1963 under the direction of H.D. Sankalia. It revealed artefacts many centuries old.

The ASI conducted a second round of excavations in 1979 under S.R. Rao's direction. He found a distinct pottery known as lustrous red ware, which could be more than 3,000 years old. Based on the results of these excavations, the search for the sunken city in the Arabian Sea began in 1981. Scientists and archaeologists have continually worked on the site for 20 years.

The UAW began excavations at Dwaraka again from January 2007. Dr. Tripathi said: "To study the antiquity of the site in a holistic manner, excavations are being conducted simultaneously both on land [close to the Dwarakadhish temple] and undersea so that finds from both the places can be co-related and analysed scientifically."

The objective of the excavation is to know the antiquity of the site, based on material evidence. In the offshore excavation, the ASI's trained underwater archaeologists and the divers of the Navy searched the sunken structural remains. The finds were studied and documented.

On land, the excavation is being done in the forecourt of the Dwarakadhish temple. Students from Gwalior, Lucknow, Pune, Vadodara,Varanasi and Bikaner are helping ASI archaeologists. In the forecourt, old structures including a circular one have been found. A small cache of 30 copper coins was discovered.

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