Monday, June 19, 2006

 

Just 4 divers for India’s Titanics

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Hindustan Times
By Satyen Mohapatra
June 18, 2006


The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has a major plan for collecting data about shipwrecks that have taken place around India. However its plan will have to overcome a human resource problem — there are just four archaeologist-divers in the organisation.

Alok Tripathi, Superintending Archaeologist of ASI’s Underwater Archaeology Wing, is one of the four. He explains the paucity, saying, “Age is an important factor. If we get archaeologists, they are old and not keen on going into the sea.”

The archaeologist-diver, as the name suggests, must be both an archaeologist and a diver. “The person must not only be an archaeologist but also must be adventure loving, must be ready to be trained in diving and must be young,” says Tripathi.

Generally cultural remnants and shipwrecks are found in shallow waters around 40 metres under the sea. According to Tripathi, if the ship is covered and is at a good site, it is much better preserved than cultural heritage found on land.

The first stage in the work is collecting information. Tripathi says, “We plan to collect information regarding shipwrecks from the archival records and from field surveys all over the country to find out from the local people in coastal areas about shipwrecks”.

The five year old Underwater Archeology Wing of ASI had carried out an exploration and excavated Princess Royal, a 1792 European ship, in 2002 off the Bangaram island in Lakshadweep. It is now exploring other islands in the Lakshadweep chain.

The ASI estimates there are hundreds of ancient ports and shipwrecks dotting India’s coastline.

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