Final Colloquium by Ms. Ekta Gupta on 'Advancing archaeological and geomorphological understanding of the Indian Coast using old cartographic and visual records'
Advancing archaeological and geomorphological understanding of the Indian Coast using
old cartographic and visual records
Indian coast has been charted and mapped extensively by various European colonisers such as Portuguese, Dutch, British, and French, since the 16th century, for the purpose of navigation, guiding safe landing, and also for political and military interests. These maps and charts often depict geomorphic features such as shoals, lagoons, and coastlines, along with historical sites as landmarks. However, the geomorphic and archaeological content in these early cartographic documents is mostly unexplored and/or undervalued. The present study has explored and critically evaluated these early maps with the following objectives – 1) to provide a methodology to integrate information from the historical sea- charts, maps, paintings and satellite images using GIS to derive meaningful geomorphic and archaeological information; 2) to explore the usability of historical maps in the investigation of the lost or unidentified archaeological features with respect to the dynamic shoreline; and 3) to advance the understanding of the long-term (few centuries) coastal geomorphology. The study has made original contributions by highlighting the richness and potential of these early maps in advancing the archaeological and geomorphic understanding; this has been achieved by developing and demonstrating a coherent methodology through integrating knowledge, concepts, and methods from different associated disciplines (i.e., remote sensing, GIS, cartography, archaeology, and geomorphology). Generally, geospatial analysis of coastline changes is limited to the period of availability of satellite images (last ~50 years). However, the present study demonstrates the ability and method to use historical maps and extend the spacio-temporal analysis of coastal areas to the last few centuries. The thesis has systematically used geomorphic information from early maps to identify archaeological sites and location of archaeological sites as a reference to understand long-term (past few centuries) coastal geomorphic processes. More specifically, the present work led to finding hitherto unexplored archaeological remains of colonial forts on coasts of Goa, Karnataka, and Kerala. The study also helped in understanding and dating the long-term dynamics of spits of central Kerala, the evolution of the Thamirabarani delta, and the formation of the Thoothukudi tombolo. The interdisciplinary approach used in this research has fetched multifaceted outcomes and pointed at directions for future research.
All are invited to attend