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Greek treasure in Gujarat

On the eastern fringe of the Khambat harbour and with the Maheshwari flowing close by, Hathab is the ideal destination for jangled urban nerves.

india Updated: Jun 21, 2006 08:42 IST

On the eastern fringe of the Khambat harbour and with the Maheshwari flowing close by, Hathab is the ideal destination for jangled urban nerves. It’s difficult to imagine that thousands of years ago, this idyllic spot was a bustling port city — referred in the writings of Greek astronomer Ptolemy and the Peliplus of Erytharean Sea as Astakapra.

Ptolemy had described Hathab as a port city opposite Barugaza (present Barauch) in front of the mouth of Namadus (Narmada). Latest research reveals that it might even date back to 6th Century BC--- when Buddha was born.

Carbon dating of some of the artifacts found at the archaelogical site over two years ago show they existed much before Ptolemy, says director, exploration and excavation, R.S.Fonia of the Archaeological Survey of India.

The findings can also provide information on the decline of the Harappan settlements in Kutch with the change of communication from land to the sea, he said.

When Hathab was dug up, many artifacts indicating its maritime link with Egypt, Rome and other western and west Asian countries were found.  These included deposits of Roman amphora, a copper coin of Apollodotus, decorative terracotta animal forms with Graeco Roman influence, Shubra Parmanik Superintending Archaeologist at Hathab said. Not only that, a Mauryan bronze pot and seal were also found.

An interesting find is perhaps the oldest step well — dating back to 1st and 2nd century— which descends like a coil into the earth. One of the important items excavated which confirmed that Hathab was  Astakapra was a gold signet ring with an inscription: “Hasti Ramasya” and another seal reading Hastavapra Raja Sangadaman hastavapra adhikari, Parmanik said.

When the excavation started, the ASI had little to go on except clues from Ptolemy and other writings. But the buried city was finally spotted with the help of remote sensing maps.