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Archaeological remains of a Harappa Port-Town, Lothal

Date of Submission: 15/04/2014
Criteria: (v)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Permanent Delegation of Turkey to UNESCO
State, Province or Region:
Gujarat, Dist Ahmedabad, Dholka Taluk
Coordinates: N22 31 17 E72 14 58
Ref.: 5918
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Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party

Description

The archaeological remains of the Harappa port-town of Lothal is located along the Bhogava river, a tributary of Sabarmati, in the Gulf of Khambat. Measuring about 7 HA, Lothals thick (12-21 meter) peripheral walls were designed to withstand the repeated tidal flood, which probably resulted in the bringing the city to an end.

Within the quadrangular fortified layout, Lothal has two primary zones – the upper and the lower town. The citadel or the upper town is located in the south eastern corner and is demarcated by platforms of mud-brick of 4 meters in height instead of a fortification wall. Within the citadel are wide streets, drains and rows of bathing platforms, suggested a planned layout. In this enclosure is a large structure, identified as a warehouse with a square platform and whose partly charred walls retains the impression of sealings, which were probably tied together, awaiting export.

The remains of the lower town suggest that the area had a bead-making factory. In close proximity to the enclosure identified as a warehouse, along the eastern side where a wharf-like platform, is a basin measuring 217 m long and 26 meters in width, identified as a tidal dock-yard. At the north and southern end of the basis are identified an inlet and an outlet which would have aided in maintaining the adequate water level to facilitate sailing. Stone anchors, marine shells and seals possibly belonging to the Persian Gulf corroborate the use of this basin as a dockyard where boats would have been sailed upstream from the Gulf of Cambay during high tide.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

The archaeological remains of the Harappan port-town of Lothal is located along the Bhogava river, a tributary of Sabarmati, in the Gulf of Khambat. Measuring about 7 HA, Lothals thick (12-21 meter) peripheral walls were designed to withstand the repeated tidal flood, which probably resulted in the bringing the city to an end. The site provides evidence of Harappa culture between 2400 BCE to 1600 BCE.

The excavated site of Lothal is the only port-town of the Indus Valley Civilisation. A metropolis with an upper and a lower town had in on its northern side a basin with vertical wall, inlet and outlet channels which has been identified as a tidal dockyard. Satellite image show that river channel, now dried, would have brought in considerable volume of water during high tide which would have filled the basin and facilitated sailing of boats upstream.  The remains of stone anchors, marine shells, sealings which trace its source in the Persian Gulf together with the structure identified as a warehouse further aid the comprehension of the functioning of the Lothal port.

Set in the dried river bed, along a silted bed of the channel (where occasional) tidal water can still be seen, in the archaeological site of Lothal the typical heirarchial town planning systems and the dockyard is discernable. The remains have been consolidated post excavation and is in stable state of conservation.

 The defined zones within a fortified enclosure, i.e. the combination of an upper and lower town where the former is characterised by heirarchial layout of street and infrastructure of a dockyard aunthenticate Lothals as a Harappan port town. The identification of the tidal creek rough which boats would have sailed upstream, the controlled (water) inlet and outlet system provided in the humongous basin and the marks of flooding which ultimately resulted in rendering it non-functional provide physical evidence of the working systems of the tidal port.

The availability of antiquities whose origin is traceable to the Persian Gulf and Mesopotamia and the presence of what is identified as a bead making industry further attributes Lothal as an industrial port town  of the Harappan culture.

The site is located in a rural agricultural landscape with scanty vegetation and with traces of the dried tidal channel through which boats sailed upstream. The excavated remains are protected and maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India, whose mandates are defined as by Ancient Monuments and Sites Remains Act'1958 (amended in 2010). 

Criterion (v): The excavated site of Lothal is the only port-town of the Indus Valley Civilisation. A metropolis with an upper and a lower town had in on its northern side a basin with vertical wall, inlet and outlet channels which has been identified as a tidal dockyard. Satellite image show that river channel, now dried, would have brought in considerable volume of water during high tide which would have filled the basin and facilitated sailing of boats upstream.  The remains of stone anchors, marine shells, sealings which trace its source in the Persian Gulf together with the structure identified as a warehouse further aid the comprehension of the functioning of the Lothal port. 

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

Authenticity

The defined zones within a fortified enclosure, i.e. the combimation of an upper and lower town where the former is characterised by heirarchial layout of street and infrastructure of a dockyard aunthenticate Lothals as a Harappan port town. The identification of the tidal creek rough which boats would have sailed upstream, the controlled (water) inlet and outlet system provided in the humongous basin and the marks of flooding which ultimately resulted in rendering it non-functional provide physical evidence of the working systems of the tidal port.

The availability of antiquities whose origin is traceable to the Persian Gulf and Mesopotamia and the presence of what is identified as a bead making industry further attributes Lothal as an industrial port town  of the Harappan culture.

Integrity

Set in the dried river bed, along a silted bed of the channel (where ocassional) tidal water can still be seen, in the archaeological site of Lothal the typical heirarchial town planning systems and the dockyard is discernable. The remains have been consolidated post excavation and is in stable state of conservation. 

Comparison with other similar properties

The ancient port town of Lothal can be compared to port-towns of Xel Ha (Peru), Ostia (Port of Rome) and Carthage (Port of Tunis) in Italy, Hepu in China, Canopus in Egypt, Gabel (Byblos of the Phoenicians), Jaffa in Israel, Ur in Mesopotamia, Hoi An in Vietnam. In the region, it can be compared to other Indus port towns of Balakot (Pakistan), Khirasa (India) and Kuntasi (India).