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Tuesday, 22 May, 2001, 18:14 GMT 19:14 UK
Indian seabed hides ancient remains

By Rajyasri Rao in Delhi

Marine experts have discovered a clump of archaeological structures deep beneath the sea off India's western coast.

Although the discovery has not yet been accurately dated, the structures are said to resemble archeological sites belonging to the Harappan civilisation, dating back more than 4,000 years.

This is the first time man-made structures have been found in this part of the Arabian Sea which is known as the Gulf of Cambay.

The team leader, M Ravindran, told the BBC that they first noticed the huge structures while examining acoustic images collected from under the sea bed.

Ancient settlement?

The group was routinely investigating the Gulf of Cambay to monitor pollution levels, using devices able to penetrate at least 10 metres deep beneath the sea bed.

Harappan site in Pakistan
Harappan remains have been found in India and Pakistan
The images gathered over the past six months led to a surprising discovery - a series of well-defined geometric formations were clearly seen, spread irregularly across a nine-kilometre (five-mile) stretch, a little beneath the sea bed.

Some of them closely resemble an acropolis - or great bath - known to be characteristic of the Harappan civilisation.

The Gulf of Cambay is one of the largest tidal areas in the world - with a current of very high velocity - and so it is conceivable that the area may well have submerged an entire ancient settlement, Mr Ravindran said.

But archaeologists are far more sceptical.

Closer study

A leading marine archaologist says that far more detailed investigations need to be done to confirm the exact date of the structures.

Indus Vally pottery
Experts say submerged pottery may offer a clue
S R Rao, who has spent years researching the nearby Gulf of Kutch, said the only conclusive way of establishing the antiquity of the site was by studying pieces of submerged pottery from the same area.

Mr Rao's own research led to the discovery of the first tidal dock in the world - built at around 2300 BC in the port town of Lothal - at the head of the Gulf of Cambay.

But he says much more research and evidence is required to categorise the latest discovery in the same manner.

Numerous Harappan archeological sites have been found in northern and western India, as well as neighbouring Pakistan.

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