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Underwater Archaeology Wing – History

History | Fieldwork  | Training  | Seminars/Conferences  | Publication
Importance of underwater archaeology was realized as early as VI five year plan. History of underwater archaeology in Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has passed through three phases.
1987 – 1990 | 1991 – 2000 | Since 2001|2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005
1987 to 1990

  • Provided Funds for Conference
  • Funded Training Programme
  • Training of Technical Staff

From 1987 contributed towards the development of the subject by providing financial assistance to on going project, holding seminars, etc.
In 1987 it was decided to start underwater archaeology in the ASI and in 19988 first archaeologist was sent for training in this multidisciplinary branch of archaeology.
ASI has maintained high standards in the fields of the protection and preservation of the cultural heritage of the nation. Since the subject was still in infancy and it was necessary to expose its archaeologists to the recent developments in the world.
ASI sent its trained underwater archaeologist to participate with experts of various countries.
1991 – 2000

  • Funded Training Programme till 1993
  • Organised Training Programmes
    • with GSI (1995)
    • with Andhra University (1997)
  • Underwater exploration (1991)
  • Advance training for staff
  • Participation in underwater excavations abroad

In 1991 it undertook first independent investigation in Indian waters to a depth of 40 m. Till its excavation in 2002 it remained the deepest underwater archaeological site in the country investigated by the archaeologists.
Since 2001

Establishment of Underwater Archaeology Wing (UAW) on 8th February 2001 marked a major step in the field of underwater archaeology. It started functioning from 26th February 2001 at the office of Director-General, ASI at Janpath, New Delhi .
Since it inception the UAW is engaged in exploration of underwater archaeological sites and shipwrecks and to preserve sunken cultural heritage in Indian waters. Some of the achievements are listed below.

  • Establishment of Underwater Archaeology Wing
  • A training programme organized in the Institute of Archaeology , New Delhi was attended by the archaeologists of the ASI, State departments of Archaeology and University.
  • Conducted first exploration in Bay of Bengal off Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu.


  • Conducted exploration off Mahabalipuram, Tamil nadu
  • Conducted exploration off Arikamedu , UT of Pondicherry
  • Conducted underwater exploration off Bangaram Island in May followed by first systematic underwater excavation of ancient shipwreck “Princes Royal” in collaboration with IN


  • International Seminar on Marine Archaeology (ISMA-2003) at New Delhi with IN
  • Published interim report on Excavation of Princes Royal
  • Conducted exploration at Elephanta Island , Maharashtra
  • Participated in International Seminar on Boat and Ship Archaeology-10 at Roskilde , Denmark
  • Participated in UNESCO Asia-Pacific workshop on Convention on Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage at Hong Kong , SAR China


  • Conducted offshore explorations at
    • Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu
    • Kaveripatmnam, Tamil Nadu
    • Arikamedu , UT of Pondicherry
  • Conducted exploration at Elephanta Island , Maharashtra
  • Published proceedings of International Seminar on Marine Archaeology 2003


  • Conducted excavation at Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu
  • Organized International Seminar on Marine Archaeology (ISMA-2005)
  • Participated in Magan Boat Reconstruction Project with Ministry of Heritage and Culture, Sultanate of man
  • Conducted exploration at Elephanta Island , Maharashtra
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