CHENNAI: Could the history of Sangam Era be reconstructed through Marine Archaeology? Yes, say historians, who are urging the state government to take up initiative to trace the missing link of Tamil history — by launching research to find the lost underground ancient Tamil era cities like Poompuhar, and the presumed lost continent in the Indian Ocean, Kumari Kandam.
Addressing a press conference, regional director of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), D Dayalan, who was part of the team to excavate the ancient city of Dwarka, and director of Indian Science Monitor TKV Rajan, said that it was time the state government supported research efforts.
In the 80s, when India made a modest effort to establish Marine Archaeology Centre at National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), the infrastructure was provided by NIO, and initial grants came from Indian National Science Academy and Department of Science and Technology, and subsequently from the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research.
Even the then State government under the leadership of MGR had backed the effort to trace the history of ancient city of Poompuhar, which was under water. “The effort that began in 1986 was shelved in 1996. We don’t have any clue as to why we did not receive any backing after that,” said Rajan.
Rajan and Dayalan are keen to revive marine archaeology to trace the missing link of Tamil history underwater, expressing hope that excavations could be carried out in Kaveri Poompuhar near Sirkazhi. “Private agencies are ready to fund the project. All we require is the backing of state government, and the Ministry of External Affairs’ clearance to take up the project,” he said. The historians are planning to use NIOT ship, which Rajan claims had traced the antiquities in Poompuhar four times.
But how are they going to trace the sites that they believe are under water? “This could be done through satellite imaging as well as site scan cameras, which can trace the antiquities available under the ocean. We would also get help from National Geophysical Research Institute in Hyderabad provided we get clearance from the Union government,” said Rajan. “We can also take the help of France, which has the expertise in marine archaeology.”
The ASI is also planning to identify ship wrecks in Indian and international waters. The plan is to identify the ship wrecks that happened 1,300 to 1,400 years ago. “We are trying to locate the ship wrecks during the Chola era as Malaya was conquered by Rajendra,” said Dayalan. “Without the help of Indian Navy we can’t do it. It is very expensive.”