Monday, August 22, 2011

Krishna History or Myth?

Advances in Marine Archaeology 

(Proceedings of Second Indian Conference of Marine Archaelogy of Indian Ocean countries.Jan1990)
Published for the Society for Marine Archaeology National Inst. of Oceanography India. 1991

Since 1983 the Marine Archaeology Unit of the National Institute of Oceanography is engaged in the offshore exploration and excavation of the legendary city of Dvaraka in the coastal waters of Dwaraka in Gujarat. Brief accounts of the findings of the underwater search for the lost city have appeared in Progress and Prospects of Marine Archaeology in India, 1987, Marine Archaeology of Indian Ocean Countries, 1988, 40 years of Research - A CSIR Overview, 1988 and Journal of Marine Archaeology, 1990. The present paper deals with the more significant results of further excavations in 1988 and 1989 and discusses archaeological and literary evidence for the identification of the port city of Dvaraka of the protohistoric period. It also draws attention to the scientific data available from the underwater excavations in the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Kutch.
A brief account of the discovery of the submerged city of Dwaraka of Mahabarata fame and the salient features of the structures exposed as a result of underwater excavation con-ducted at Dwaraka and Bet Dwaraka by the Marine Archaeology Unit of the National Institute of Oceanography under the direction of the author from 1983 to 1987 appeared in 1988 (Rao, S.R. 1988, 47-53). Offshore exploration of the legen-dary city at Dwaraka was resumed in 1988 and continued through 1990, further seaward of the Temple of Samudranardyana (Sea God) at Dwaraka with a view to trace the plan and extent of the port-city and the purpose of the massive stone walls built on the banks of ancient Gomati. It was also necessary to ascertain whether its architectural features were in conformation with the description of the city of Dwaraka given in the epic Mahabharata. A second object was to obtain more corroborative evidence for reclamation referred to in the epic. Thirdly, the nick point where the ancient Gomati river joined the sea had to be determined. Lastly, the cause of submergence of the city was another problem that needed further investigation.

Onshore and offshore excavation in the island of Bet Dwaraka which, according to tradition, was the resort of Sri Krishna was resumed in November, 1987 and continued through 1988. The main objective was to trace the landward extension of the submerged protohistoric township near Balapur Bay where, in the intertidal zone a submerged wall had been traced in the earlier expedition (Rao, S. R. 1988, 49).

Marine Archaeological expedition at Bet Dwaraka 

The trenches dug by the Public Works Department in the 'Talao' area near Balapur village for building an earthen embankment were examined, but no remains of any protohis-toric settlement came to light confirming thereby that there was no landward extension of'the ancient town. Most part of the ancient township was swallowed by the sea and the mud flats of Balapur extending over I km seaward had buried the ancient relics. One Trench (A) to the south of the Old Cus-tom House, and the other itrench (Al) in the intertidal zone at the toot of the Custom House mound were sunk to estab-lish the sequential relationship between the two sectors of habitation. (Fig. 1) The short duration of 3 or 4 hours at low tide when land was exposed near the shore, rendered excavation in ::Iavev deposit very difficult. Even so, a rubble foundation, 35 cm broad, and a few sherds of a large storage jar lying on the floor of the house were exposed in Trench (Al). Several worked columella of conch shell found lying in a line suggested that the house belonged to a shell-worker. Excava-tion had to be abandoned after digging to a depth of 20 cm because of high water table in lowest tide also. Trench Al was however extended on the west and the extension was marked XA1, but no structure came to light. Layer I of trench Al is surface humus, layer 2 consists of fine grained silty sand mixed with shingle and layer 2A, where shells and pottery are found, is darkish clay. No pottery was found in layers 2 and 2A of XA I.

A trench '2 x 2 m was laid above the rain gully in the Custori-. House mound to ascertain the cultural sequence. In all, 10 layers were distinguished. Layers I to 4 upto lm depth yielded Muslim glazed ware and Ted ware of early medieval period. In Layers 5 and 6 in 1-1.3m depth the Red Polished Ware assignable to the first five centuries of the Christian era was found. One sherd inscribed with the letter sya meaning I of in Brahmi characters of the lst-2nd century A.D. was recovered  Layers 8-10 yielded a few sherds of the Lustrous Red Ware and coarse red ware of the post-Harappan phase. Natural soil could not be reached. A large number of shell bangles and a couple of worked columella were found in the medieval and early historic deposits. A bead of li3h bone is the only find from the post-Harappan deposit. It was decided to postpone to a later date the excavation of the intertidal zone and- the mound further north of the earthen embank-ment of the Talao where Late Harappan pottery has been found.

Massive stone protection wall-cum-pier in BDJ VIII 

In the course of exploration of the near shore and intertidal zones south of Balapur Bay on 4th January, 1988 Mr Rajan, diver-archaeologist and Mr Sirsath, photographer discovered a massive rubble wall exposed in lowest low tide and the site has been designated as BDK Vill (Pi. 18-19). The wall remains submerged at high tide under a column of 2 in water above its top. Excavation was conducted on both the sides of the eastern arm of this structure on the 9th and 10th January in order to expose to full extent the height of the structure and determine ' the nature and purpose of constructing such a large enclosure which is 558 m in its peripheral length. (Fig.2)

Trenches measuring 1 x 1.2 m were laid on its southern and northern faces. In all, 9 courses of dressed and undressed stones, of which 4 courses are covered by silty clay deposit were traced The wall was constructed on the bed rock. The stone masonry is heavily incrusted with barnacles and other sea organisms. It is very difficult to remove the incrustation with-out chiselling it. Originally the wall must have been atleast 2.5 to 3 m high. Presently it is only 1.5 m in height. The enclosure wall is an irregular hexagon on plan. An interesting feature of construction is the use of wedge-shaped blocks of stone for the shell, while the core is made up of rubble-filling. That the structure is man-made becomes apparent from the use of dressed stones closely laid and also from the box technique of construction. The thickness of the wall at the base is 2.5m while the extant tapering top is 1.5 to 2m thick. The pottery found in the trench is coarse grey ware but heavily rolled resulting in the disappearance of the slip and decoration if any. Only one sherd of the sturdy red ware of the post-Harap-pan phase was found in the extremely small trench. Provision-ally the structure is datable to 15th century B.C. on the basis of the sturdy red ware. Within the enclosure there must have been very important public buildings - may be warehouses and other structures relating to shipping, for, not far from here are two rock-cut stipways for launching boats. The massive protection wall could have also served as a pier.

(Artwork courtesy of The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc.

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