National Maritime Heritage Museum Current Affairs - 2019

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India’s first Maritime Museum in Gujarat

The Government of India is planning to establish a National Maritime Heritage Museum at Lothal in Gujarat. The museum will also act as an independent research center for archaeology of boat building, reconstruction of maritime history and materials traded. It will hold display of salvaged materials from shipwreck sites in Indian Ocean waters.

Underwater Archaeology

The underwater archaeology involves remains of submerged shipwrecks, ports and records of maritime activity from archaeological excavations. The shipwrecks studies in India were initiated in 1989 in the Sunchi Reef, Goa. According to UNESCO, there are around 3 million undiscovered shipwrecks on the world’s ocean floor.

Significance

India has vast potential with its rich maritime history. The archaeological evidence from South East Asia and Persian Gulf say that Indian maritime voyagers ventured into eastern and western seas even before 4000 years ago. Studying about sunken ships will help to fill in gaps in India’s maritime history and trade links with other countries.

Lothal

Lothal is an ancient city of Indus Valley Civilization. It was discovered in 1954 by the ASI (Archaeological Survey of India). The site is important as the irrigation tank of the city was used as a dock in ancient times. Also the city was a part of a major river system (the five rivers flowing through Punjab) on the trade route. The GoI has requested UNESCO to add Lothal into the lists of UNESCO Heritage sites. The requisition is yet to receive approval.

India & Portugal to set up National Maritime Heritage Museum

India and Portugal will cooperate in setting up of a national maritime heritage museum at ancient Indian site of Lothal in Gujarat. Lothal (literally means the mound of dead) was one of port cities of Indus Valley Civilization (Harappan Civilization).

Key Highlights

  • Background: In March 2019 Government of India allocated a grant for building maritime museum and foundation stone for project was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Then during Portuguese Defence Minister João Gomes Cravinho visit to India in April 2019, initial discussions were held between India and Portugal for developing maritime museum.
  • Feature: The proposed maritime museum in Indian is likely to come up on lines of similar museum at Lisbon, which is administered by Portuguese Navy.
  • Implementing agencies: Museum Project will be implemented by Union Ministry of Shipping through its Sagarmala programme, along with involvement of State government, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and other stakeholders.
  • Indian Navy is also keen to be a stakeholder in project and Portuguese Navy has agreed to assist the former with their experience of administering maritime museum in Lisbon.
  • Purpose:
  • It will showcase and preserve India’s rich and diverse maritime heritage.
  • It also seeks to highlight ancient shipbuilding and navigational technologies developed by India.

Why Portugal?

Portugal is home to the Navy Museum (a maritime museum) in Lisbon, which is administered by Portugal Navy. So the two countries discussed that India could also follow the similar mode. Soon a Defence Ministry-led delegation would also be visiting Portugal to study existing museum in Lisbon.