Archaeologists taken aback by Indias ancient city dubbed forgotten Atlantis

Atlantis is an island mentioned in the works of the Greek philosopher Plato some 1,600 years ago.

He described it as a naval empire that ruled all the Western parts of the known world.

It was, of course, a fictional entity, but that hasn’t stopped many in history from searching for a real-life lost Atlantis.

This includes the ancient city of Dwarka, in northwest India, one of four sacred Hindu pilgrimage sites called the Chardham.

Here, archaeologists believe that hidden deep beneath waters where the Gomti River and Arabian Sea meet lies a lost city — India’s very own Atlantis.

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Dwarka is mentioned as the place of Krishna’s kingdom in the epic Mahabharata. The book says that after he lived there for more than 100 years, the old settlement was swallowed up by the sea.

In the second half of the last century, archaeologists made attempts to find material evidence of the city in order to prove its existence. The first excavations were carried out in the 1960s by the Deccan College and turned up few pieces of evidence.

Then, in 1979, the Archaeological Survey of India conducted another excavator in which researchers found some fragments of pottery which they believed hailed from the second millennium BC.

Further excavations and inspections have revealed a variety of archaeological remains in Dwarka, including painted polychrome, microns, and a total of more than 500 antiquities recovered.

It firmly establishes the cultural sequence of the area for almost 2,000 years and hints that something was present long before the town’s current set-up.

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Underwater, they found the remains of stone structures and huge blocks, although they didn’t find any associated pottery or objects that hinted at human presence.

Attention was turned towards the sea itself with excavations near the present-day Dwarkadhish Temple. Work here showed that the temples were shifting towards the land as the sea level was rising.

This finding encouraged Indian archaeologist Dr S R Rao to carry out offshore surveys, and later on, in 2007, a detailed excavation was conducted on the shore of Dwarka, finding more remains of considerable size that were extremely well-preserved.

Researchers also found thick deposits of around 10 metres of a settlement destroyed by the sea.

From this, they carried out a hydrographic survey of around two nautical miles by one nautical mile and found a shift in the position of the town’s stream, which enabled them to map out where they needed to dive into the sea to search.

Diving into the water, the team began to find vast structures filled with algae and overgrown vegetation, cleaning each to reveal bold structures.

“We found limestone anchors which establish that [Dwarka] was an ancient port — that is beyond doubt,” Dr Alok Tripathi, an underwater archaeologist at the archaeological survey of India, told BBC Reel’s documentary, ‘Have archaeologists finally found India’s sunken kingdom?’

At the National Institute of Oceanography, teams generated the records of the last 15,000 years to survey how the sea level has fluctuated, finding that the sea level was around 100 metres lower 15,000 years ago.

From this point the sea level rose, and around 7,000 years ago it passed current levels.

Around 3,500 years ago, the city of Dwarka was built — at a time when the sea level was lower. But soon, the sea level once again rose, leading researchers to believe that this is what submerged the ancient city.

Many artefacts of ancient Dwarka have since been found underwater, things like stone blocks, pillars, and irrigation channels.

The age of the finds are still being debated, and archaeologists are planning to dig up entirely what they have found on the sea bed in a bid to find the foundations of the ancient city walls.

“If we located the exact location of the ancient settlement, it is going to be of a very high significance as far as the history of India is concerned,” said Dr Tripathi.

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