Friday, September 02, 2005


Oman-India sea route to be retraced


August 31, 2005

The boat will be made of reeds
and have no engine.

An eight-member crew will sail across the Arabian Sea from Oman to India next week in a replica of a reed boat used by ancient mariners relying on only the sun, moon and stars to guide them.

The aim of the voyage, the Indian Express daily reported on Wednesday, is to establish that trade ties existed between India and Oman from the early Bronze Age, some 5000 years ago.

The crew will set sail from Sur in Oman on 7 September and hope to reach Bet Dwarka in India's western state of Gujarat in 15 days, the report said.

The multinational crew will take no modern equipment on board the 12-metre vessel and will instead rely on ancient sailing techniques for the 500 nautical mile journey.

The timing of the $200,000 venture coincides with celebrations to mark 50 years of diplomatic ties between India and Oman.

The boat, named Magan, will have no engine and no modern amenities like cabins and berths. The crew will study how life was lived on board such a craft.

Basic diet
Indian marine archaeologist Alok Tripathi, one of the eight crew members, said they would survive on a diet of dates, dried fish,

Crew to live on dates, dried fish,
pulses, honey, bread and water.

"One has to be mentally tough to undertake such a journey and I am prepared," Tripathi told the Indian Express.

Australian nautical archaeologist Tom Vosmer, part of the crew and the brain behind the expedition, told the paper that the vessel had been constructed using the same materials available in the Bronze Age.

The reeds are bound with rope made by hand from date palm fibre while bitumen from Iraq was used for waterproofing.

Wooden parts were made from teak, sails were hand-woven from sheep's wool and the ropes made from goat hair, he said.

Once the boat reaches Indian shores, its symbolic cargo, which the report did not identify, will be handed over to Indian representatives at a ceremony in Gujarat's Mandvi region.


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