Stone anchor found near Gulf of Kutch, could be 2,000 years old

IndianExpress.com
ADAM HALLIDAY : Ahmedabad, Sun Apr 29 2012, 07:32 hrs

Oceanographers have claimed they have found an Indo-Arabian type of stone anchor 53 metres below the water’s surface near the Gulf of Kutch, a tool that finds a mention in the Buddhist text Milindapanha, believed to have been written more than 2,000 years ago.

“This is the deepest (anchor) find in entire India,” said Sila Tripati, principal technical officer at NIO, who, along with colleagues Abhay Mudolkar and Vijay Khedekar, has co-written a paper titled “Petrographic studies on a newly discovered Indo-Arabian stone anchor from the Gulf of Kachchh, Gujarat: implications for the source area”. The paper is expected to be published in the forthcoming edition of the journal Current Science in May.

While anchors of this kind were earlier found off Saurashtra’s coastline, this 164-cm long, 300-kg anchor was found 23 kms off Okha and 54 kms off Mandvi, at an isolated place with no sign of an erstwhile port, harbour, sheltered bay or even a shipwreck site.

The last deepest reported find of a similar anchor in India was at 20 metres.

Gujarat’s trade links with the Arab world have been cemented in archaeology with stone anchor finds at Bet Dwarka, Dwarka, Ghogha, Miyani, Somnath, Visawada and Mitthi Virdi.

The latest anchor was found in in October 2007 when a team from the institute, on board R V Sonne, was trying to retrieve a seismometer from the bottom of the sea.

“We had sunk an ocean bottom seismometer, which is designed to lie on the sea-bed and record data for a week or so after which it is retrieved by dredging,” said K S Krishna, chief scientist at the NIO’s Goa headquarters, who was aboard the vessel.

“The Gulf of Kutch has soft sediments, so we had to make several attempts. That’s when we found this anchor,” he recalls.

The anchor was accidentally dropped while being retrieved, however, and broke into two. When the research team finished their work and returned, they handed it over to NIO’s Marine Archaeology Centre, where it is currently kept.

The anchor is made up mostly of quartz and feldspar, according to the researchers.

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