Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Archeologists to examine Kuakata 'antique' boat

A three-member team from Department of Archaeology of Khulna Division set off Tuesday morning for Kuakata where an ancient wooden boat recently surfaced from beneath the sandy beach.

The ancient boat which is believed to be belonging to the first Rakhine settlers from Arakan province in Myanmar over 200 years ago was found on June 29 during the low tide.

As soon as the ancient boat surfaced, a group of local people started looting precious brass sheets from the boat joints, a The Daily Star report said on June 4.

Abdul Baten, regional director (acting) of Department of Archaeology, Khulna Division, told The Daily Star on Tuesday that on seeing the report and informed by the locals from Kuakata, the Khulna division office sent three experts to assess the importance of the wooden boat.

Research Assistant Md Golam Ferdous is leading the team with draftman Md Jahandar Ali and photographer Md Abdus Sama along. 

The team was assigned to send a thorough report detailing their findings to the Khulna division office, the regional director informed.

“We responded quickly as soon as we got the information about surfacing of an ancient boat. We corresponded with the Thana Nirbahi Officer (TNO) in Kolapara to get updates on the situation. But first, our team needs to assess and submit a report on the boat,” he said.

“We will forward the report to our headquarters in Dhaka for further direction,” he added.

The director, however, did not comment on the antiquity of the boat saying “We are yet to see the report from our team.”

“You know the boat is quite large and it is partially buried under the sandy beach. It is technically difficult to heave up the boat. We may have to wait till winter for the water to recede,” he said.

“Then it comes to budget. A venture like this needs a budget and planning,” the director said adding that all these await the report and direction from the head office in Dhaka.

Yves Marre, the initiator of a traditional boat museum under the banner “Protection and Preservation of National Naval Heritage of Bangladesh told The Daily Star that if the boat is 200 years old, it is a national treasure. 

“Reports suggest that it is a boat used by the first Rakhaine settlers who escaped from war-torn Myanmar 200 years ago. It is a treasure that must immediately be protected and preserved,” Marre said. 

French born Bangladeshi, Marre with his project has so far replicated 65 types of traditional wooden boats of Bangladesh and exhibited those boats in France and other European countries. 

Talks are underway to open an exhibition of those boats in the naval museum of Greenwich in London soon, he said. 

Consisting of a timber made of Gorjon tree, the boat is 72 feet long and 22.5 feet wide and only two feet of its upper portion has emerged from the sandy beach near the tamarisk garden in Kuakata.