20 February 2005

Tsunami Proves "Myth" To Be Real

Tsunami Uncovers Ancient City in India

MAHABALIPURAM, India - Archaeologists have begun underwater
excavations of what is believed to be an ancient city and parts of a
temple uncovered by the tsunami off the coast of a centuries-old
pilgrimage town.

Three rocky structures with elaborate carvings of animals have
emerged near the coastal town of Mahabalipuram, which was battered by the Dec. 26 tsunami.

As the waves receded, the force of the water removed sand deposits
that had covered the structures, which appear to belong to a port
city built in the seventh century, said T. Satyamurthy, a senior
archaeologist with the Archaeological Survey of India.

Mahabalipuram is already well known for its ancient, intricately
carved shore temples that have been declared a World Heritage site
and are visited each year by thousands of Hindu pilgrims and
tourists. According to descriptions by early British travel writers,
the area was also home to seven pagodas, six of which were submerged by the sea.

The government-run archaeological society and navy divers began
underwater excavations of the area on Thursday.

"The tsunami has exposed a bas relief which appears to be part of a
temple wall or a portion of the ancient port city. Our excavations
will throw more light on these," Satyamurthy told The Associated
Press by telephone from Madras, the capital of Tamil Nadu state.

The six-foot rocky structures that have emerged in Mahabalipuram, 30
miles south of Madras, include an elaborately carved head of an
elephant and a horse in flight. Above the elephant's head is a small
square-shaped niche with a carved statue of a deity. Another
structure uncovered by the tsunami has a reclining lion sculpted on

According to archaeologists, lions, elephants and peacocks were
commonly used to decorate walls and temples during the Pallava period in the seventh and eighth centuries.

"These structures could be part of the legendary seven pagodas. With
the waters receding and the coastline changing, we expect some more
edifices to be exposed," Satyamurthy said.


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