REUTERS [ WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 16, 2002 6:25:32 PM ]
City older than Mohenjodaro unearthed
REUTERS [ WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 16, 2002 6:25:32 PM ]
NEW DELHI: Indian scientists have made an archaeological find dating
back to 7500 BC suggesting the world's oldest cities came up about
4,000 years earlier than is currently believed, a top government
official said on Wednesday.
The scientists found pieces of wood, remains of pots, fossil bones
and what appeared like construction material just off the coast of
Surat, Science and Technology Minister Murli Manohar Joshi told a
"Some of these artefacts recovered by the NIOT (National Institute of
Ocean Technology) from the site such as the log of wood date back to
7500 BC, which is indicative of a very ancient culture in the present
Gulf of Cambay, that got submerged subsequently," Joshi said.
Current belief is that the first cities appeared around 3500 BC in
the valley of Sumer, where Iraq now stands, a statement issued by the
"We can safely say from the antiquities and the acoustic images of
the geometric structures that there was human activity in the region
more than 9,500 years ago (7500 BC)," S.N. Rajguru, an independent
The findings, if confirmed, will dislodge the Harappan Civilisation
dating back to 2500 BC as India's oldest civilization.
BBC News Online
from Tom Housden
The remains of what has been described as a huge lost city may force
historians and archaeologists to radically reconsider their view of
ancient human history. Marine scientists say archaeological remains
discovered 36 meters (120 feet) underwater in the Gulf of Cambay off
the western coast of India could be over 9,000 years old. The vast city
- which is five miles long and two miles wide - is believed to predate
the oldest known remains in the subcontinent by more than 5,000 years.
The site was discovered by chance last year by oceanographers from
India's National Institute of Ocean Technology conducting a survey of
pollution. Using side-scan sonar - which sends a beam of sound waves
down to the bottom of the ocean they identified huge geometrical
structures at a depth of 120ft. Debris recovered from the site -
including construction material, pottery, sections of walls, beads,
sculpture and human bones and teeth has been carbon dated and found to
be nearly 9,500 years old.
The city is believed to be even older than the ancient Harappan
civilization, which dates back around 4,000 years. Marine
archaeologists have used a technique known as sub-bottom profiling to
show that the buildings remains stand on enormous foundations.
The whole model of the origins of civilization will have to be remade
Author and film-maker Graham Hancock - who has written extensively on
the uncovering of ancient civilizations - told BBC News Online that the
evidence was compelling: "The [oceanographers] found that they were
dealing with two large blocks of apparently man made structures.
"Cities on this scale are not known in the archaeological record until
roughly 4,500 years ago when the first big cities begin to appear in
"Nothing else on the scale of the underwater cities of Cambay is known.
The first cities of the historical period are as far away from these
cities as we are today from the pyramids of Egypt," he said.
This, Mr Hancock told BBC News Online, could have massive repercussions
for our view of the ancient world.
Harappan remains have been found in India and Pakistan
"There's a huge chronological problem in this discovery. It means that
the whole model of the origins of civilization with which
archaeologists have been working will have to be remade from scratch,"
However, archaeologist Justin Morris from the British Museum said more
work would need to be undertaken before the site could be categorically
said to belong to a 9,000 year old civilization.
"Culturally speaking, in that part of the world there were no
civilizations prior to about 2,500 BC. What's happening before then
mainly consisted of small, village settlements," he told BBC News
Dr Morris added that artefacts from the site would need to be very
carefully analyzed, and pointed out that the C14 carbon dating process
is not without its error margins.
It is believed that the area was submerged as ice caps melted at the
end of the last ice age 9-10,000 years ago. Although the first signs of
a significant find came eight months ago, exploring the area has been
extremely difficult because the remains lie in highly treacherous
waters, with strong currents and rip tides. The Indian Minister for
Human Resources and ocean development said a group had been formed to
oversee further studies in the area.
"We have to find out what happened then... where and how this
civilization vanished," he said.
DROWNED INDIAN CITY COULD BE WORLD'S OLDEST
Copyright 2002 by United Press International.
Evidence of an ancient "lost river civilization" has been uncovered
off the western coast of India, according to the country's minister for
science and technology. Local archaeologists claim the find could push
back currently accepted dates of the emergence of the world's first
cities, New Scientist reports.
Underwater archaeologists at the National Institute of Ocean
Technology first detected signs of an ancient submerged settlement in
the Gulf of Chambray, off Gujarat, in May 2001. They have now conducted
further acoustic imaging surveys and have carbon dated one of the
finds. The acoustic imaging has identified a nine-kilometer-long
stretch of what was once a river but is now 40 meters beneath the sea.
The site is surrounded by evidence of extensive human settlement
including carved wood, pottery, beads, broken pieces of sculpture and
human teeth. Carbon dating of one of the wooden samples has dated the
site to around 7500 BC.
"These collections represent an exciting breakthrough in offshore
archaeology," says Sharad Rajaguru, a former head of archaeology at the
Deccan College in Pune, India. "Further investigation of the area is
important as this might throw light on the development of human
CASTLES IN THE SEA
Wednesday February 6, 2002
by Stephen Moss
Graham Hancock doesn't look mad as he sprawls in an armchair in his
small, neat house in Kennington, south London. But his critics would
say appearances deceive: he is either a lunatic, a charlatan, or
both. Hancock has spent the past 10 years writing books and producing
TV programs which argue that everything we are told about ancient
history is wrong: civilization didn't start in Sumeria and Egypt
around 3,500 BC; it began 10,000 years before in great cities which
subsequently suffered a cataclysm.
He first expounded the thesis in 1995 in Fingerprints of the Gods
(the echo of Erich Von Daniken's pro-alien Chariots of the Gods is
unfortunate). It was restated in Heaven's Mirror, a glossy book
produced to coincide with a Channel 4 series in 1998. His arguments
were treated with derision. In 1999 the BBC's Horizon did a
demolition job that was applauded by archaeologists and assorted
Hancock-haters. But, undeterred, he is back with another Channel 4
series and a vast tablet of a book, called Underworld, that attempts
to provide the evidence for his lost civilization.
So, Graham, I hear you are bonkers. "It seems that people talk to me
with a preconception about what I am," he says, "and then whatever I
say or do doesn't make any difference.There are several
preconceptions. One is that I'm a lunatic-fringe train-spotter with
an absurd enthusiasm for something ridiculous in the past. The other
is that I'm a rather sinister fellow who is misleading the public."
The 51-year-old former journalist pleads not guilty on both counts.
"I'm not an academic; I'm not an archaeologist. I'm a writer,
communicating ideas to the public. There is a model of how the past
is and a lot of academic archaeology is about refining the model.
It's not about changing the model radically. I'm not aware of any
current which is about radically changing the model. It's just me,
Hancock's first "mystery" book - a quest for the lost Ark of the
Covenant - was The Sign and the Seal in 1992, and he seems to see
himself as an Indiana Jones figure, kicking against the constraints
of academia, thinking the unthinkable. He doesn't believe in Von
Daniken's intergalactic missionaries, but chides me for making fun of
them. "It's odd that invoking the possibility of alien influences
should itself be a sign of madness," he says. "I don't see the need
for it to explain history on earth, but I can't see any reason why
the universe shouldn't be full of life."
Whereas archaeologists start with objects, Hancock starts with ideas
- in this case, the idea of the flood. "We have 600 flood myths
around the world," he says. "Archaeologists tell us these are
meaningless; all they represent are psychological archetypes -
memories of birth, in the case of the flood - or exaggerations of
local river floods. I thought, OK, we can say that, but suppose they
are true - that they are our memory of what happened at the end of
the Ice Age?
"The other thing that almost always goes with these myths is the
notion of an antediluvian civilization - something which existed
before the flood and was destroyed by it. I couldn't see any good
reason why these universal myths shouldn't be a memory of that event,
yet I found that this idea hadn't been explored."
Hancock has moved his argument on in Underworld by focusing on what
he claims are former coastal settlements in India, south-east Asia
and the Mediterranean, submerged when sea levels rose dramatically at
the end of the Ice Age, between 17,000 and 7,000 years ago. These, he
says, were the sites of his lost civilization. He learned to dive to
research the book and has spent much of the past five years exploring
the submerged "ruins" (Hancock's detractors argue that they are more
likely to be natural features).
"We cannot claim to know the entire human story when an area of 10m
square miles - an area the size of South America and the US - was
flooded at the end of the Ice Age," he says. "It's important to
understand how different the world was during the Ice Age - enormous
ice caps across northern Europe, extremely dry and cold and
inhospitable in the interior. The places where people would naturally
go to live through an episode like that would be the coast. A classic
example is the Persian Gulf, which was completely dry until 12,000
years ago. It was a wonderful refuge from the Ice Age world."
Hancock complains that marine archaeology has been obsessed by
shipwrecks rather than settlements. "Archaeologists argue that there
is nothing to find underwater except more of the same," he says. I
can't help feeling that their scepticism is justified: it surely
isn't feasible that these ancient civilizations existed solely on the
coast. Hancock's reply, as to so much else, is why not? "I understand
the logic which says they should have left traces inland," he says,
"but you can't deduce from that that it isn't worth looking
underwater. I'm somebody who explores extraordinary possibilities,
not ordinary ones."
Last month, Hancock's possibility became a little more feasible when
India's National Institute of Ocean Technology announced that it had
discovered ruins of an ancient city 25 miles off the coast of
Gujarat. "Now that we have a clear probability of large cities at the
bottom of the Gulf of Cambay and other structures in south-east India
that are 9,000 to 10,000 years old, the logic goes away," he says.
"Logic, which has dissuaded academics from pursuing marine
archaeology, could be confounded by fact."
Hancock is not crowing just yet, because it has not so far been
possible for divers to investigate the Cambay site. But even his
adversaries now accept that if this is a 7,000-year-old city (the
area was flooded at least 7,000 years ago), they will have to tear up
their textbooks. "If the case is made, then it means that the
foundations are out of the bottom of archaeology," says Hancock, with
only the hint of a smile. "Goodbye Sumeria, goodbye the Fertile
Crescent, hello Cambay."
Underworld is a more reasoned book than his earlier investigations.
It still has the Indiana Jones sense of personal quest, but is better
sourced and more cautious. "I said things in the early 90s that I
wouldn't say now," he admits. "They were done with passion, but they
were also done hastily and were wrong, dead wrong. I can see that
Hancock has modified his concept of a global civilization that sank
without trace and now propounds the idea of a number of maritime
cultures, many of them interlinked, which succumbed to inundation as
the ice caps melted. He has introduced a degree of gradualism into
his hypothesis - not that it is likely to do him much good with the
academy. Or with literary editors, for that matter: his books are
routinely bracketed with wacky mind/body/spirit titles - filed not
under history, but hysteria.
Maybe that's the place for them, but Hancock doesn't strike me as a
wacko, or as someone eager to grow rich on the gullibility of the
public. He's an autodidact who hit on a notion a decade ago and has
spent his time since looking for evidence to support it. This
approach is inherently anti-academic - the danger is that you will
bend the evidence to fit the thesis - but those unexplained ruins on
the floor of the Gulf of Cambay just might prove that, for once, the
lunatic was right all along.
Experts call for a new look into ancient history
TIMES NEWS NETWORK [ WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 19, 2001 1:01:34 AM ]
ADODARA: Was Indian civilisation nurtured by the Indus? Or was it the
Vedic Saraswati that was the cradle of our ancestors?
At a time when 're-writing' of history is taking the country by
storm, a group of geologists, archaeologists and scientists feel it's
time to take a new look at the concept of the Indus Valley
civilisation. They feel that both the Indus and the Saraswati,
copiously mentioned in the Vedas, nurtured the civilisation that
flourished 4,000 years ago.
And, a series of international and national symposia, extensive
research work and 'networking among like-minded people' have been
planned to ensure that the 'theory is reviewed'. A Chennai-based
organisation Saraswati Nadi Shodh Prakalp is compiling an
encyclopaedia on the Saraswati river which mentions the concept of
the civilisation being based along the Saraswati river.
While hardliners opine that the civilisation should be renamed the
Saraswati Valley Civilisation, moderates feel that it should be now
recognised as the Indus-Saraswati Valley Civilisation.
"The Indus valley theory certainly needs to be reviewed", says
head of MSU geology department SS Merh.
"Research shows a pre-dominance of Harappan sites in the Saraswati
basin. Maps prepared by Gregory Possehl of Pennsylvania University's
department of archaeology show that during the early Harappan period
(3200 - 2600 BC) sites dotted both the Indus and Saraswati basins,"
"In the mature Harappan stage (2500 - 1900 BC), the number of sites
along the Indus decreased but those in the Saraswati basin remained.
Sites in Gujarat, where the Saraswati drained out in what is today
the Rann of Kutch, also increased. The late Harappan or post urban
phase (1900 - 1500 BC) sites dot the Saraswati valley in north India
and Gujarat while there are hardly any sites left along the Indus.
All this definitely proves that both the rivers played an important
role in the development of the civilisation," adds Merh.
"During the past eight decades, due to constant efforts of
archaeologists, 862 pre-Harappan, Harappan and late Harappan sites
have been discovered in India and most of these sites are in the
Saraswati basin. Some archaeologists have now come out with
nomenclature as the Indus-Saraswati civilisation", says former
director of the Archaeological Survey of India Jagatpati Joshi in a
recent paper on 'Harappan civilisation as seen at the close of the
President of Geological Society of India BP Radhakrishna feels that "
new civilisation_ the Indus Valley Civilisation _ came into existence
on the banks of the Indus and flourished for over thousand years. It
would be more appropriate to call it the Saraswati-Indus civilisation
as it was initiated on the banks of the Saraswati and ended up in the
Indus valley." And, the government move to re-look into history has
provided a new impetus to the propagators of this theory. "There is
enough evidence to prove this theory. Poesshl lists about 2,600 Indus
Age sites, of which as many as 2,000 are found in the Saraswati
basin", president of the Saraswati Nadi Shodh Prakalp Kalyan Raman
told TNN over the telephone from Chennai.
The organisation, whose Gujarat wing _the Saraswati Nadi Shodh
Sansthan _conducted a seminar on the Saraswati at Rajkot recently,
now plans an international seminar at the University of California
that would also focus on the role of the Saraswati in nurturing the
civilisation that we popularly call the Indus Valley Civilisation.
Raman also plans to approach all universities and institutions and
have an inter-disciplinary approach to the issue.
Sites much larger than Mohenjodaro and Harappa have been found in the
Saraswati basin. For example, Rakhi Garhi, 150 km from New Delhi on
the Dhrishadvati (another Vedic river and a part of the Saraswati
system) basin is much larger. Another site at Sirsa is about 250
hectares while Mohenjodaro is just about a 100 hectares.
Merh feels that they were riverine people who navigated on the
Saraswati and reached the southern part. They may also have used the
low sea that probably existed on where today stands the Great and
Little Rann of Kutch to navigate to sites in south Gujarat.
And, as modern man takes a new look at his past, it's probably time
to set right a 'historical record'.