The tsunami uncovers ancient sculptures
Tsunami uncovers ancient sculptures in Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu
The December 2004 tsunami, which battered much of the south Indian coast, has helped unearth priceless relics in the ancient port city of Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu. The killer waves shifted thousands of tonnes of sand to uncover granite sculptures which archaeologists claim, are remnants of a seventh-century civilisation. The sculptures include an elaborately carved lion, a half-completed elephant and a stallion in flight. RELATED
"As the tsunami waves receded, they scoured away sand deposits that had covered these sculptures for centuries," says Alok Tripathi, an underwater archaeologist. Tripathi, who led the Archaeological Survey of India (asi) team that excavated Mahabalipuram, says the discoveries throw new light on this ancient port city, south of Chennai.
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The city has also been the subject of much scholarly curiosity. asi had begun excavations here in 2001. But the tsunami threw a spanner in their works. Only for a brief while, however: the archaeologists got going again after a report from local fisherfolk. Just before the tsunami waves struck on December 26, 2004, the sea withdrew about 500 metres, baring its bed on which lay a temple structure and several rock sculptures, the tsunami-struck fisherfolk announced after they had recovered some of their bearings.
Once the waves subsided, asi researchers enlisted help of divers from the navy to scan the deep seas. "We found some stone structures which appear to be man-made. They are perfect rectangular blocks arranged in a clear pattern," says Tripathi.
|The urn (above) and the lion statue (below) unearthed by the tsunami could be part of a temple or a port city, say scholars
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