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Re: [Ind-Arch] India's underwater heritage

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  • jpisc98357@aol.com
    Dear Friends, I received the following from the Indian Archaeology Yahoo Group this morning and thought you would find it interesting. The author mentions a
    Message 1 of 2 , May 1, 2003
      Dear Friends,

      I received the following from the Indian Archaeology Yahoo Group this
      morning and thought you would find it interesting. The author mentions a
      British pseudo-archaeology producer by the name of Graham Hancock who
      specializes in hunts for ancient astronauts, pyramid power, Secrets of the
      Pharaohs and other gee whiz productions. Archaeology magazine has a long
      story on this type of popular television products aired on Discovery, History
      and TLC if you are interested.

      Best regards, John Piscopo

      In a message dated 5/1/2003 9:00:53 AM Central America Standard Time,
      tiptronicus@... writes:

      > http://www.sulekha.com/redirectnh.asp?cid=308475
      > By Uttara Gangopadhyay
      > NEW DELHI - Scientists from Chennai's National Institute of
      > Oceanography (NIO) were routinely going through some underwater sonar
      > pictures taken while monitoring marine pollution in the Gulf of
      > Cambay, off the coast of Gujarat, a couple of years ago. Much to their
      > surprise, they came across the ruins of a city. Initially, the news
      > received mixed responses. While some believed that it was the lost
      > city of the mythical Dwarka mentioned in ancient scriptures, others
      > dismissed it as a probable shipwreck. The scientists launched a more
      > intensive search last year and came up with plenty of interesting
      > finds.
      > The ancient city is located at a depth of 40 meters and spread over a
      > nine-kilometer stretch with relics from a typical Indus Valley
      > civilization - pools with sunken steps, a granary, house foundations,
      > drainage systems, mud roads as well as broken pots, figurines,
      > semiprecious stones, ornaments, fossilized remains of wood and human
      > body parts. Carbon dating of wooden pieces has revealed even more
      > interesting facts. One piece tested by the Birbal Shahni Institute of
      > Paleobotany in Lucknow shows it belonged to 5500 BC, while one tested
      > by National Geophysical Research Institute, Hyderabad, belonged to
      > 7500 BC. Although yet to be conclusively proved whether the pieces
      > were washed to the place or belonged to the city, the findings are
      > intriguing.
      > Despite its gloomy association, a shipwreck is interesting as a piece
      > of history. It is a documentation of life on board, boat building,
      > trade routes, cargo, etc. The wrecks turn into homes for a number of
      > marine fauna. Divers love shipwrecks because of the challenge they
      > offer. The luxurious ocean liner Andrea Doria that sank near Nantucket
      > off Long Island in the Atlantic Ocean in July 1956 is now considered
      > the "Mount Everest of shipwreck diving". Experienced divers have died
      > in their quest to explore the ship. The UNESCO (United Nations
      > Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Convention on
      > Underwater Cultural Heritage adopted in 2001 has now laid out a set of
      > rules for the preservation of underwater sites and wrecks.
      > International Heritage Day observed on April 18 had "Underwater
      > Cultural Heritage" as its theme, aimed at raising people's awareness
      > and to foster conservation of underwater heritage.
      > Throughout history, seafaring explorers have rewritten the boundaries
      > of land many times. On the other hand, maritime trade routes have been
      > a bone of contention between nations. The strategic location of India
      > encouraged maritime trade and commerce as well as expeditions to
      > foreign lands in the past. Foreigners from across the seas influenced
      > India's history in the post-Mughal period. Hence, many people believe
      > that the Indian seacoast can provide important shipwrecks and lost
      > cities.
      > The recent findings near Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu seem to vindicate
      > that belief. A joint expedition by the Scientific Exploration Society
      > of the United Kingdom and NIO revealed an extensive series of
      > structures at a depth of five to seven meters. The ruins, consisting
      > of masonry walls, rock-cut structures, stone platforms with steps etc,
      > are probably the remains of six of the seven pagodas built by the
      > Pallava rulers. There is a popular legend among local fishermen that
      > the beautiful city was devastated by floods unleashed by some jealous
      > gods which caused the six pagodas to be submerged. An account by
      > British traveler J Goldingham in 1798 referred to the place as the
      > land of the Seven Pagodas. It was he who also recorded the myth. Some
      > time ago, British author and television presenter Graham Hancock was
      > inspired by the legend and it was at his initiative that the
      > expedition took off last year.
      > "Despite these interesting findings, underwater exploration for
      > archeological sites and shipwrecks is still lagging in India," feels
      > Dr Prateep Sen of Kolkata. A certified diver, Sen often goes diving in
      > the Southeast Asian seas. "Whether it's the flora and the fauna or
      > heritage findings, like ancient cities and shipwrecks, the underwater
      > world is no less interesting than the world above. The heritage
      > findings are time capsules that lie far away from curious eyes,
      > preserved for posterity," he says. Although the screening of the film
      > Titanic created deeper interest in wrecks, India is yet to join the
      > bandwagon. Mitali Kakar of Reef Watch Marine Conservation, a
      > non-governmental organization involved in promoting diving and reef
      > conservation, agrees, "There're several wrecks and submerged cities
      > around the Indian subcontinent which could be landmarked as heritage
      > sites if managed in a proper manner."
      > Even though underwater exploration is costly and thus difficult for
      > individuals to finance, Sen says it is high time exploring the deep
      > was taken seriously. "Amateur divers go down searching for hidden
      > treasures and often come up with lovely booties." Local fishermen and
      > boat people are well aware of such sites. Often amateur divers work on
      > these bits of information and strike gold. "The fishermen's tales of
      > the submerged pagodas ultimately came true in the sense that ruins
      > were discovered here."
      > Sen also highlights the recent findings of a 300-year-old shipwreck
      > now being explored by the Indian Navy off the Lakshadweep islands. "I
      > heard about the wrecked Princess Royal lying on the seabed quite some
      > time ago," he recalls. "It's also mentioned in the book Diving in the
      > Indian Ocean, published in 1999 by Rizzoli of New York. According to
      > local people, amateur divers have been down to the wreck site. The
      > navy divers have come up with interesting findings like canons, an
      > anchor, iron objects, porcelain as well as a bell with the ship's name
      > inscribed on it."
      > Countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand have
      > converted shipwrecks found off their coasts into diving attractions,
      > in the process reaping the benefits of niche tourism. The warm waters
      > of the tropical seas are the favorite haunts of divers from all over
      > the world and the shipwrecks have increased the attraction.
      > Local people reap the benefit of direct and indirect employment
      > opportunities. According to Kakar, if the sea conditions permit
      > visibility and people have the opportunity for scuba diving in the
      > area, the lost city off the Gujarat coast could serve as a premier
      > archeological site for exploration. "The income earned from this kind
      > of eco-tourism could flow into preservation and conservation of the
      > site and benefit the communities living along the coast."
      > Who would have though that the land of the famed Taj Mahal and palaces
      > could also throw up attractions like underwater lost cities?

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • jpisc98357@aol.com
      In a message dated 5/1/2003 10:03:13 PM Central America Standard Tim, ategnatos@hotmail.com writes: What I was referring to is resistance to new ... Dear
      Message 2 of 2 , May 1, 2003
        In a message dated 5/1/2003 10:03:13 PM Central America Standard Tim,
        ategnatos@... writes: > What I was referring to is resistance to new
        > ideas, or even to revival of old ideas that were not actually disproven,
        > but lost the status of "mainstream consensus." Many academics tend to react
        > to challenges to current consensus as if they were in a cult and being
        > confronted with a "heresy".
        Dear Mark DeFilio,

        The problem is still the lack of publication. I know of no single
        museum that has published a series of books of its own collections that
        includes scholarly study by academics or experts who specialize in that area
        of study. This failure to publish and make available in museum bookstores
        means that education is blocked and disputes as to what the museum thinks it
        has and what others may view may be different. The dialogue can't take place.
        The problem is the failure to do more than publish picture books as to what
        they consider to be treasures.

        Major museums, The Field Museum of Natural History or the Oriental
        Institute of the University of Chicago or the Chicago Art Institute here in
        the Chicago area are cases in point. You can't find out what is in their
        collections, only what is on display at any given time. What is published is
        for the tourists and general public, not for scholars. Minor pieces are

        The Oriental Institute has huge numbers of cuneiform tablets in their
        storage rooms but most have not been translated and published. How does one
        study without them? The OI is working on their collections but the work
        would go much faster if they would simply publish their tablets and allow
        others to take a stab at the work.

        From my point of view, they may have hundreds of ancient weapons in
        their storage rooms that I would love to see but would never be granted
        access to. I know of no work anyware that studies ancient Mesopotamian
        weapons using the actual weapons for study and publishing quality
        photographs. Aren't Assyrian weapons just as important as Luristan ones?
        Surely they have been excavated.

        The Smithsonian in Washington, the Metropolitan in New York, the Mellon
        in Pittsburg, the Peabody in Boston and on and on all have the same problem.
        You can't get real access to their back room collections to do independent
        research and there is no systematic program to get qualified academics to do
        the work.

        Your question is interesting enough that I am publishing it and my reply
        and hope others might want to voice their opinions on my criticism of the
        museums and the academics that run them.

        The European museums will have the same policies, foreigners are not
        wanted here unless we invite them and we don't invite nobody that nobody
        sent. (A variation of Chicago patronage lingo)

        Best Regards, John Piscopo
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