|India has 7,516 km long coastline, 1197 islands and 155,889 sq. km of territorial waters and 2,013,410 sq. km exclusive economic zone. The vast water area of the country is rich in underwater cultural heritage. The importance of underwater archaeology was realized as early as in the VI five-year plan.
Beginning of underwater archaeology in India can be traced back to 1981. Off shore explorations in the country have generated a lot of popularity to this discipline. Establishment of the Underwater Archaeology Wing (UAW) in the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in 2001 marked a major step towards the development of the subject.
Since its inception the UAW is actively engaged in conducting underwater archaeological studies in the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal.
The UAW is engaged in –
- Documentation of underwater sites and ancient shipwrecks
- Training of professional archaeologists, young researchers and students
- Conduct of seminars to discuss various aspects and to bring awareness
- Protection of underwater cultural heritage
UAW collaborates with other government organizations for the study and protection of underwater cultural heritage. Collaboration with India Navy (IN) has been a success.
Protection of underwater cultural heritage and regulation of underwater activities aimed towards the cultural heritage is one of the main concerns of the UAW. Adoption of “Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage” by UNESCO in 2001 displays the global concern about the protection and management of underwater cultural heritage. UAW has initiated steps for the protection and
preservation of the underwater cultural heritage.
V. N. Prabhakar
Underwater Archaeology Wing
Archaeological Survey of India
Red Fort, Delhi – 110006