EXCAVATIONS AT LOTHAL, have unearthed the remains of a remarkable city of the Indus Valley Civilization¬† that existed 4,500 years ago. Located 6 km (4 miles) northwest of the confluence of the Sabannati and Bhogavo rivers, Lothal (literally, “Mound of the Dead”) had a navigable estuary to the sea through the Gulf of Cambay (now Gulf of Khamhat), which made it a flourishing port that once traded with Egypt, Persia and Mesopotamia.

The site reveals the foundations of a well-planned city with blocks of houses, paved drains, channels and wells, and 12 public baths. Other finds include beautifully made heads and pottery decorated with bird and animal motifs. Seals with intriguing, pictographic writing (as yet unclecipherecl ), and weights and measures were also found here. The city was surrounded by a mud brick embankment, to protect it from the perennial floods which, in all probability, caused the city’s destruction around 1,900 BC. Among the prize exhibits in the Archaeological Museum are a copper figurine and a gold-bead necklace.

In 2001, Indian oceanographers carrying out water pollution tests in the Gulf of Cambay nearby, made an astonishing discovery. They found the foundations of two cities under the sea, complete with streets, houses, staircases and temples. Objects recovered from the seabed, such as a stone slab covered with mysterious markings (which could be the earliest form of writing yet discovered), and carved wooden logs, have been carbondated to 7500 BC. The discovery of this site, which has been dubbed “Asia’s Atlantis”, has excited historians and archaeologists all over the world, as it suggests that civilization may have started 5,000 years earlier than previously believed. They surmise that the city may have been submerged as sea levels rose at the end of the Ice Age in about 8000 BC.

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