- the lost civilization
Rewriting History. Not as the politicians
would like to in our history texts, but in order to set the
record of the growth of villages and cities in the world straight.
until now, the first major urban settlements in the world
were believed to have appeared in the ancient river valleys
of Mesopotamia around 4000-3500 B.C. Then came the Nile Valley
civilization in Egypt. This was followed by the Indus Valley
civilization, which flourished around 2500 B.C. Now suddenly
the lost city of Cambay throws up the possibility of a civilization
that predates the oldest known ones by 2000 years! As Dilip
Chakrabarti, Cambridge University historian puts it, "it
could completely alter all our notions of history".
As all discoveries, this one too was uncovered by chance.
A team of oceanographers from the National Institute of
Ocean Technology (NIOT), Chennai, were trawling the murky
sea 30 km off the coast of Gujarat in the Gulf of Cambay,
measuring the levels of marine pollution. As part of the routine,
they took sonar photographs of the ocean floor. Months later
while analyzing the images, they realized they had unknowingly
photographed the ruins of a vast city submerged 40m under
the sea. So back they went to dredge the site and collected
over 2000 artefacts.
When the team first made their revelations
public in May last year, many experienced archaeologists brushed
their theories aside as poppycock. Besides, they were oceanographers,
not archaeologists. Stung by criticism, the team sailed back
to the site in November, but this time armed with a robotic
vehicle fitted with a video camera, a dredge and a scoop.
They also took along marine geologist, S Badrinarayan. Although
the camera was not of much use because of the strong underwater
currents that churned the waters and made it murky, they were
able to haul up tonnes of sludge, from which they retrieved
Cambay findings could mean that early Indians were not copycats
Delhi University historian, Nayanjot Lahiri says that if the
Cambian civilization is proved to be the oldest in the world,
that could refute the theory that urbanization spread from
West Asia to the Indus and thence downwards to India.
However, there are many interesting questions
yet to be answered: Historians have little evidence to show
how a predominantly farming community in India took that giant
leap forward and built some of the most well-designed cities
in the world during the Indus period. Where, for instance
did the people of Cambay come from? Were they natives or did
they come by sea from West Asia? When did they transit from
hunter gatherers to agriculture and a mature urban settlement?
Harvard University historian, Richard Meadow
thinks the discovery is important enough to launch an international
collaborative study as was done to uncover the sunken ruins
of the Titanic.
At a press conference in Delhi, last month, the Union Minister
for Human Resources, Murli Manohar Joshi made the team's findings
public. The Government will now launch a national multi-disciplinary
project to uncover the mysteries that the lost city of Cambay
has thrown up.
A host of specialist institutes will assist
the NIOT including the ASI, the NIO,Goa, the Physical Research
Laboratory, Ahmedabad, apart from the NGRI, BSIP and a host
The impact of the discovery will be far reaching.
While doubts persist, the findings could revolutionize history.
The sunken city of Cambay might well be the oldest in the
world, thereby pushing back the age of civilizations by 2000
The most important task at hand now is to
conclusively establish the age of the sunken city of Cambay.
Once this is done, history might probably have to be rewritten.
Civilizations down the
MESOPOTAMIAN: Pottery relics from this cradle of civilization
date back to 7000 B.C., but urban traces emerge in 5500 B.C.
When the Mesopotamians came in 3800 B.C., the tools of civilization
were already in existence.
THE AGEAN: The Cretans in 6000 B.C.
were farmers and their culture primitive. The 1,500 year long
civilization reached its peak in 1800 B.C. under the rule
of the legendary King Minos.
CHINESE: China cultivation began in 5000 B.C., but the
farmers employed primitive techniques and shifted their villages
as the soils became exhausted. Permanent settlements emerged
only after 1500 B.C.
THE EGYPTIAN: Prior to the Bronze
Age, there were a large number of small farming communities
in Egypt. It was in 3000 B.C. that a conquering family unified
the disparate settlements and set up capital at Memphis.
THE HARAPPAN: The twin cities of the
Indus Valley civilization, Harappa and Mohenjodaro, reached
their peak in 2500 B.C.
THE CAMBIAN: Dated at 7500 B.C., it
could be the oldest civilization yet.
Source: India Today