India’s maritime history runs deep
- October 23, 2022
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN Topics
India’s maritime history runs deep
Context:Recently, the Prime Minister has reviewed the construction of the National Maritime Heritage Complex (NMHC) site at Gujarat’s Lothal.
- The project began in March 2022, and is being developed at a cost of Rs 3,500 crore.
- It will have several innovative features such as Lothal mini-recreation, which will recreate Harappan architecture and lifestyle through immersive technology.
- It has four theme parks – Memorial theme park, Maritime and Navy theme park, Climate theme park, and Adventure and Amusement theme park.
- It will act as a center for learning and understanding India’s maritime history.
- The NMHC is being developed with the aim of displaying India’s diverse maritime heritage and also help Lothal emerge as a world-class international touristdestination.
About Lothal Site
- Lothal was one of the southernmost sites of the Indus Valley civilization (IVC), located in the Bhāl region of what is now the state of Gujarat.
- The port city is believed to have been built in 2,200 BC.
- Lothal was a thriving trade center in ancient times, with its trade of beads, gems and ornaments reaching West Asia and Africa.
- Lothal had the world’s earliest known dock, which connected the city to an ancient course of the Sabarmati River on the trade route between Harappan cities in Sindh and the peninsula of Saurashtra.
- Archaeologist SR Rao led the team which discovered a number of Harappan sites at the time, including the port city of Lothal.
- Excavation work was carried out in Lothal between February 1955 and May 1960.
Archaeological findings and features
- The 4,600-year-old city was mathematically planned.
- It had a grid pattern with proper streets crossing at right angles and drainage systems.
- The emphasis on cleanliness can be judged from the discovery of toilets and lota-like jars which shows our fixation with washing up goes back all the way to the Harappan Civilisation.
- The city was divided into two parts: the upper town and the lower town.
- The remains of the brick walls there suggest wide streets, drains and bathing platforms.
- The Lothal bead-makers were highly skilled as hundreds of carnelian beads in various stages of production and tools and raw materials were recovered.
Identification of Dockyard:
- The National Institute of Oceanography in Goa discovered marine microfossils and salt, gypsum crystals at the site, indicating that sea water once filled the structure and it was definitely a dockyard.
- In later excavations, ASI unearthed a mound, a township, a marketplace, and the dock.
- Dating back over 4600 years, the dockyard in Lothal is the oldest man-madedockyard,builtof burntbricks, roughly 240 m long, 37 m wide and 4 m deep, with a warehouse located next to it.
- Adjacent to the excavated areas stands the archaeological site museum, where some of the most prominent collections of Indus-era antiquities in India are displayed.
Heritage Value of Lothal
- Lothal was nominated in April 2014 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its application is pending on the tentative list of UNESCO.
- The excavated site of Lothal is the only port-town of the Indus Valley Civilisation.
- It is one of the most remarkable and well-preserved(No encroachment till now) urban settlements in South Asia.
- It was discovered in 1968 by archaeologist Jagat Pati Joshi.
- After Mohen-jo-Daro, Ganweriwala and Harappa in Pakistan and Rakhigarhi in Haryana of India, Dholavira is the fifth largest metropolis of Indus Valley Civilization (IVC).
- IVC flourished around 2,500 BC, in the western part of South Asia, what today is Pakistan and Western India.
- It was basically an urban civilization and the people lived in well-planned and well-built towns, which were also the centers for trade.
- The site contains ruins of an ancient IVC/Harappan city.
- It comprises two parts: a walled city and a cemetery to the west of the city.
- The walled city consists of a fortified Castle with attached fortified Bailey and Ceremonial Ground, and a fortified MiddleTown and a Lower Town.
- A series of reservoirs are found to the east and south of the Citadel.
- The ancient city of Dholavira is an archaeological site at Kachchh District, in the state of Gujarat, which dates from the 3rd to mid-2nd millennium BCE.
- Dholavira’s location is on the Tropic of Cancer.
- It is located on Khadir bet island in the Kachchh Desert Wildlife Sanctuary in the Great Rann of Kachchh.
- Unlike other Harappan antecedent towns normally located near to rivers and perennial sources of water, the location of Dholavira in the island of Khadir bet.
- This was strategic to harness different mineral and raw material sources (copper, shell, agate-carnelian, steatite, lead, banded limestone, among others).
- It also facilitated internal as well as external trade to the Magan (modern Oman peninsula) and Mesopotamian regions.
- Artifacts that were found here include terracotta pottery, beads, gold and copper ornaments, seals, fish hooks, animal figurines, tools, urns, and some imported vessels.
- Remains of a copper smelter indicate Harappans, who lived in Dholavira, knew metallurgy.
- It is believed that traders of Dholavira used to source copper ore from present-day Rajasthan and Oman and UAE and exported finished products.
- It was also a hub of manufacturing jewellery made of shells and semi-precious stones, like agate and used to export timber.
- 10 large stone inscriptions, carved in Indus Valley script, perhaps the world’s earliest sign board.
- Near the ancient city is a fossil park where wood fossils are preserved.
- Unlike graves at other IVC sites, no mortal remains of humans have been discovered at Dholavira.
Distinct Features of the Dholavira Site:
- Cascading series of water reservoirs.
- Outer fortification.
- Two multi-purpose grounds, one of which was used for festivities and other as a marketplace.
- Nine gates with unique designs.
- Funerary architecture featuring tumulus — hemispherical structures like the Buddhist Stupas.
- Multi-layered defensive mechanisms, extensive use of stone in construction and special burial structures.
Heritage Value of Dholavira
- Harappan city of Dholavira in Gujarat is India’s 40th world heritage site.
- It is the first site of Indus Valley Civilisation (IVC) in India to be included on the coveted list.