Marine archaeology in the Gulf of Cambay

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Marine archeology in the Gulf of Cambay - now known as the Gulf of Khambhat - centers around controversial findings made in December 2000 by the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT). The structures and artifacts discovered by NIOT are the subject of contention. The major disputes surrounding the Gulf of Khambhat Cultural Complex (GKCC) are claims about the existence of submerged city-like structures, the difficulty associating dated artifacts with the site itself, and disputes about whether stone artifacts recovered at the site are actually geofacts. One major complaint is that artifacts at the site were recovered by dredging, instead of being recovered during a controlled archeological excavation. This leads archeologists to claim that these artifacts cannot be definitively tied to the site. Because of this problem, prominent archeologists reject a piece of wood that was recovered by dredging and dated to 7500 B.C. as having any significance in dating the site. Another major issue is that no marine archeologist has actually inspected the site. All current research has been based on controversial sonar scans, and artifacts dredged from the sea bed.[1]

Contents

Initial Discovery

In May 2001, India's Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Science and Technology division, Murli Manohar Joshi, announced that the ruins of an ancient civilization had been discovered off the coast of Gujarat, in the Gulf of Khambhat. The site was discovered by NIOT while they performed routine pollution studies using sonar, and was described as an area of regularly spaced geometric structures. It is located 20 km from the Gujarat coast, spans 9 km, and can be found at a depth of 30–40 meters. In his announcement, Joshi represented the site as an urban settlement that predates Indus Valley Civilization.[2] Further descriptions of the site by Joshi describe it as containing regularly spaced dwellings, a granary, a bath, a citadel, and a drainage system.[3]

Follow-up excavations

A follow-up investigation was conducted by NIOT in November 2001, which included dredging to recover artifacts and sonar scans to detect structures.[4] Among the artifacts recovered were a piece of wood, pottery sherds, weathered stones initially described as hand tools, fossilized bones, and a tooth. Artifacts were sent to the National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI) in Hyderabad, India, the Birbal Sahni Institute of Paleobotany (BSIP) in Lucknow, Germany, and the Physical Research Laboratory in Ahmedabad, India.[5] The piece of wood was carbon dated to an age of 9,500 years old.[6]

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