Written by Talent KAS

Related Topic in KAS Prelims Syllabus:

History [Paper-I]: Salient features and major landmarks of Ancient and Medieval India


Central government has decided to establish a National Maritime Heritage Museum at Lothal, a Harappan site on the Saurashtra coast in Gujarat. It will be India’s first maritime museum.

About the Maritime Museum

  • The museum will be an independent research centre of underwater archaeology for reconstruction of maritime history, archaeology of boat building and materials traded.
  • It will have on display salvaged material from shipwreck sites in the Indian Ocean waters.
  • The museum is being set up with technical help from the Portuguese Maritime Heritage Museum.
  • The central government has appointed the first Director General for the museum which will be attached to the Maritime Board of the Gujarat government.

Why Lothal was chosen?

  • Lothal is the site of one of the oldest ports in India dating to the Bronze Age.
  • Lothal was chosen as it has lots of archaeological remains and was a centre of maritime activities during the Harappan era.

Underwater Archaeology

  • Underwater archaeology is a specialized branch of archaeology that involves recovering submerged remains such as ports, shipwrecks and studying proxy records of maritime activity from archaeological excavations as well as archival and historical records.
  • A shipwreck is the remains of a ship that has wrecked, which are found either beached on land or sunken to the bottom of a body of water.
  • There are an estimated three million undiscovered shipwrecks lying on the ocean floor, according to the UNESCO.
  • Between 1824 and 1962, over 12,000 sailing ships and war vessels were lost at sea. Many of them got wrecked in Indian coastal waters.

Indian Scenario

  • In India, shipwreck studies were initiated in 1989 off Sunchi Reef in Goa waters.
  • Later on, shipwreck were excavated and studied off St George’s Reef, Amee Shoals of Goa as well as in Poompuhar, Konark and Lakshadweep waters by the marine archaeology centre at the Goa-based CSIR-National Institute of Oceanography (NIO).
  • Archaeological evidence from the Persian Gulf and Southeast Asia shows that Indian maritime voyagers ventured into western and eastern seas of the Indian Ocean some 4,000 years ago.


  • Some shipwrecks are of great of historical importance.
  • Studying sunken ships could fill the gaps in India’s maritime history and trade links with other countries.
  • The studies have vast potential, given the fact that India has a rich maritime history.
  • The Dart Mouth belonging to the East India Company was carrying treasure when it is said to have sunk off Masulipatnam in 1719.
  • Indian ship P&O Liner Indus which carried the Buddhist sculptures of Bharhut stupa is known to have sunk in 1882 to the seabed of Sri Lankan waters.
[Source: The Hindu, vigyanprasar.gov]


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