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Underwater Archaeology Wing – Fieldwork


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Underwater Archaeological Exploration Off Mahabalipuram in Bay of Bengal
The UAW carried out its first offshore exploration in Bay of Bengal, off Mahabalipuram in November 2001. The coast areas between Saluvankuppam in the north to Sadrungpattnam in the south was explored. The underwater exploration was carried out in the area east of famous Shore temple and submerged rocks about 500 m. off Mahabalipuram were also examined.


Offshore and Onshore Exploration in Elephanta Island
Offshore and onshore exploration was conducted in the Elephanta Island during the monsoon to study the coastal changes and the deposition on the coast. The coastal area was explored and important features, and ancient remains were documented and their position was fixed with the help of a Global Positioning System. The area around Mora-Bandar is strewn with remains of brick made houses, stonewalls and other remains and a large number of potsherds. Divers of the ASI carried out offshore exploration in near shore the area to a distance of about 100 m from the high-water line. A number of amphorae sherds found here indicate towards the maritime trade from this ancient port.
Underwater Exploration in Bay of Bengal
In continuation of previous work the UAW in collaboration with Indian Navy carried out underwater exploration to search ancient sites and shipwrecks in Bay of Bengal. INS Darshak, a survey ship was used for conducting underwater archaeological explorations on Tamilnadu and Pondicherry coast off Kaveripattinam, Pondicherry, Arikamedu and Mahabalipuram.
Exploration Off Kaveripattnam
The survey boats carried out acoustic survey to locate the ancient shipwreck, which was earlier noticed by the Survey ship of Indian Navy along with a series of anomalies. The area was explored to locate this historic shipwreck and access its archaeological importance. Diving was carried out to a depth of 20 m.
Exploration Off Pondicherry
A number of naval battles took place off Pondicherry resulting in sinking of a number of ships. Preliminary information collected by UAW through local sources during its previous fieldworks suggested a few shipwrecks in the area. Diving was carried out to a depth of 22 m at two probable shipwreck sites. Survey boats also carried out side scan sonar survey in the area to study bottom features.
Exploration Off Arikamedu
Divers also explored in the Ariyankuppam river on the bank of which is situated famous archaeological site Arikamedu. The riverbed was very shallow and covered with fine clay and thick mud. Hard patches on the riverbed are covered with barnacles. Due to shallow depth diving in certain areas can only be carried out during the high tide. Rising water however provide sufficient depth for diving but working on muddy bed is very difficult as the visibility is badly effected as the turbid water does not move out due to rising tide.
Exploration Off Mahabalipuram
Previous underwater explorations have established that there are submerged structures near Shore temple. Divers carried out extensive diving near submerged features to the east and north of shore temple in 6 to 10 m depth. Side scan sonar survey conducted at a depth of 10 m shows a series of anomalies. Straight joins, angular cuts on some of the submerged rocks and stone blocks indicates some kind of human activity. A huge trough like feature at about 3–4 m depth is worth mentioning. Surfaces of all the submerged rocks and stone blocks are covered with barnacles. Due to poor visibility it was difficult to observe the surface of these features clearly. The site would be thoroughly investigated in coming field season. Underwater archaeological investigations here would be very useful for the study of shoreline change in the area. Wing.


Excavation of Princes Royal
UAW in collaboration with the Indian Navy carried out excavation of a shipwreck, Princes Royal, in Lakshadweep waters. The ship lying from 9 to 54 m depth on the outer slop of the coral reef was excavated systematically. The antiquities retrieved include iron cannon, glazed pottery, blue on white porcelain, nails, and objects of copper, etc. it is the deepest archaeological excavation, conducted so far in the country.

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