Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Ancient Port of Lothal

The Ancient Port of Lothal

      If you try to do an online search for the ancient ruins of the city of Lothal in India, you will have trouble.  Apparently, Lothal is also the name of one of the planets in the Star Wars stories and plays a significant role, so about half your search results will concern that.  We are, however, concerned with the real Lothal – a much more interesting place. 




      Lothal is located about 30 miles from the current northwest coast of what we now call India, in the state of Gujarāt, near the current village of Saragwala.  Such was not always the case.  

     Dated by archaeologists as far back as 3,700 B.C., the city of Lothal was not always known by that name.  We have no idea what the original inhabitants called their city, as their writing is untranslatable and sparse at that.  “Lothal” means “mound of the dead” in the local Gujarati language, just like “Mohenjo-Daro” means the same thing in the local Sindhi language.  


       Appropriately so, as both cities were inhabited by the peoples of the civilization called the Indus River Valley or Harappan or Indus


-Sarasvati.  We have looked at this culture before in the first posting of this blog.  


The Harappan civilization stretched over an area the size of western Europe and had many interconnected cities, towns, villages, roads and ports.  Their buildings reached three and four stories high.  They had streetlights.  They had grid planned cities, sophisticated drainage and waterworks, sewage systems.  They had extremely accurate weight systems and a decimal system of measurements.  They made finely grained stoneware ceramics, which can turn a steel tool, from ordinary, large grained terra cotta clay.  Their bronze alloys were as hard as modern steel.  

Since they lived so long ago, it is difficult to determine why they died out, but the evidence points to a combination of natural disasters and war (perhaps even including nuclear weapons – see my first blog entry for the evidence).  

The peoples around the Persian Gulf apparently called the Harappan civilization "Meluha." Trade goods and seals from the Persian Gulf area have been found in Lothal.  "Inscriptions from ancient Babylon and Akkad speak proudly of the number of great ships from Meluha that berthed at their cities.  Five such references have been found in the cuneiform records of the time before Hammurabi (1792 BC).  One concerns Sargon of Akkad (2334-2279 BC) and tells us: 'the ships from Meluha...he made to tie alongside the quay of Akkad.'

"Interestingly, a terracotta seal from Mohenjodaro (another Meluhan city) shows a large high-prowed ship with a spacious on-deck cabin.  Fore and aft of the cabin perch two birds which archaeologists believe are 'land-finding birds [diskakas]. As the reader will undoubtedly be aware, many ancient traditions of the global flood, not least the biblical story of Noah, make prominent mention of the role played of the role played in the navigation of the survival ship by birds just such as these." (Hancock, Graham, Underworld: The Mysterious Origins of Civilization, Three Rivers Press, New York, 2002, pp. 141-142)

Lothal was probably the southern-most population center of that advanced culture and perhaps the last to exist.  It's population was estimated to be around 30,000, although I’m sure that this waxed and waned with the coming and going of trade ships and caravans.  Excavation and investigation have been limited, so it may have been much larger.  Other significant Meluhan cities have been estimated as reaching populations as high as 150,000.

Lothal’s location has always been known by the locals.  Formal excavations began in 1954, but have since petered out.  There are just so very many archaeological sites in India that the authorities are hard pressed to give just consideration to even a small percentage of them.

     Lothal shared all the cultural aspects, apparently, of all the other Meluhan cities.  They were highly organized.  Their streets and buildings were made by a master plan, not haphazardly as in almost every other culture.  

Their bricks were kiln hardened and standardized in proportion (1 x 2 x 4).  One size was for houses and another size for city walls, so that one kiln could supply many different projects.  Workers could build quickly and efficiently, knowing the size of their materials in advance.

Lothal developed signature techniques in bead making, jewelry making and metallurgy that are still unimproved today, over 5,000 years later. Their distinctive trade goods have been found all over Africa, the Middle East and western Asia.  In addition, graves have been found in Lothal, mixed with the Lothalian's graves, which contained people from the Mediterranean and the Mesopotamian region.  Obviously, these were traders and travelers that met their demise in a far-flung place. 


Apparently following the traditions that later groups in India espoused, they did not relegate anything really important to writing, but kept it in living memory.  This would include their history or any great works of literature – stories, songs, or religious works.  Since they were great crafts people, traders and business folk, one must assume that they had astounding memories and mental capabilities, that kept track of their accounts and business dealings.

The only examples that we have of their writing is on the numerous soap stone or gem stone seals, which were also included in the list of their signature trade goods.  Seals, in general, were used throughout the ancient world.  They were used to either stamp or roll a distinctive impression, in wet clay, wax, or by impressing ink on paper, marking one’s personal possessions, or trade marking one’s supplies or products.  They were used everywhere that we would use a signature or engraving today.

A close-up view of a Meluhan seal

More Meluhan seals

Various Meluhan seals

Lothal also possessed master hydrologists and hydraulic engineers, as did the rest of the Meluhan communities.  Living on a coast and a river invariably brought changing water levels throughout the year.  The Lothalian civic planners used a complex system of brick lined drains for both sewage (each building had access to a sewer for sanitation) and for draining excess water.  These were backed up by a sophisticated system of ditches and channels, along with 3-6 foot tall raised brick platforms for each block of 20-30 buildings, that kept water from being a problem in the town.

In addition, Lothal was, as mentioned, an entrepôt – a trade depot and a port.  It served several major overland trade routes.  Ships could also go up several streams to service other communities and they could turn around and go out to sea, if desired. 
Then we come to the unique feature about Lothal that most interests us in our studies.  The two banes of every port, especially those located on the mouth of a river are flooding and silt.  Flooding is easily understandable. Tides, floods and monsoons move water levels unpredictably and sometimes catastrophically.  We have seen that the Lothalians used advanced engineering to deal with these variables.

Secondly, silt, dirt and debris washed downstream from the river, slowly but surely will choke or fill up any water channel.  Any port of antiquity is no longer near the water, due to silt build up, unless it has been the benefactor of enormous engineering efforts to clean out the silt accumulations.  Modern ports employ gigantic dredges on a regular basis, just to keep channels open in their waterways and to prevent ships from running aground in the mud or sand.
     The engineers of Lothal, conversely, by building their dock to one side of the stream of the river, employed the flow of the river to suck out and wash away any accumulations of sand or mud, keeping the precisely plumbed brickwork docks usable without on-going maintenance. All the construction was made of fire dried bricks, bound together with lime and sand mortar.  The bricks are still intact after 4000 years as is the mortar bond.  Not even the Romans built that well.

In addition, a sophisticated water lock on one side of the dock made sure that there was sufficient water to float boats at low tide and a sluice kept the docks from being submerged at high tide.
The Lothalians were so effective in their work that ships were able to move in and out of the channels and the dock area up until the late 1800’s – a period of some 5,000 years without any hand to maintain it.  This is something modern port authorities cannot do.
        In conclusion, once again, we have a very ancient people, lost in the mists of time, death and destruction, who have obviously advanced capabilities.  They have left behind evidences of highly advanced technical skill, cultural complexity, cultural depth and mental ability that we either can barely reproduce or cannot fathom, even with today’s high technology.
        Folks, the evidence is clear, just like the Bible shows us.  We are DE-volving, not E-volving.

     The truth is there.  You just have to see it.
     This blog has been written with the sole purpose of using the ample evidence available to verify and support the biblical record, while refuting the copious propaganda that is shoved down our throats daily by materialistic uniformitarians.  
     It is my contention that the Bible describes God's original creation of people with extraordinary capabilities who subsequently created an advanced civilization that exceeds our own.  It was destroyed in the Great Flood and we have spent the last 4,500 years trying to preserve or re-build that civilization.  I contend that science supports all this in multiple disciplines, but this information is ignored, discredited or suppressed by people who have an opposing agenda.

     Nothing that you see on this blog is original.  Any fact that you see here is obtainable on a dozen different websites and books.  I use these facts and photos, without violating their copyrights, under the legal principle of fair use practice.  That is, I use them one time, for educational purposes only.
     The point is, nothing here is made up.  The only thing that I do (or need to do) is assemble this information in its readily discernible pattern. 
      You might want to read through the first entry posted on this blog (Past Remembering: Thoughts toward a coherent view of our ancient past, our present and our future) in order to understand my theoretical and theological underpinnings more clearly.

Ecclesiastes 1:9-10 (NASB)
That which has been is that which will be,
And that which has been done is that which will be done.
So there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there anything of which one might say,
“See this, it is new”?
Already it has existed for ages
Which were before us.

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