Archaeology Tsunami reveals a town's ancient ruins

Discussion in 'Archaeology' started by mscbkc070904, Mar 18, 2005.

  1. mscbkc070904

    mscbkc070904 Premium Member

    Tsunami reveals a town\'s ancient ruins

    For a few minutes, after the water had receded far from the shore and before it came raging back as a tsunami, the fishermen stood along the beach and stared at the reality of generations of legends.

    Or so they say. Spread across nearly a mile, the site was encrusted with barnacles and covered in mud. But the fishermen insist they saw the remains of ancient temples and hundreds of refrigerator-sized blocks, all briefly exposed before the sea swallowed them up again.

    "You could see the destroyed walls covered in coral, and the broken-down temple in the middle," said Durai, a sinewy fisherman who, like many south Indians, uses only one name. "My grandfathers said there was a port here once and a temple, but suddenly we could see it was real, we could see that something was out there."

    Whatever they saw is back under water and out of sight. But a few hundred yards away, something else came to the surface. The tsunami scrubbed away six feet of sand from a section of beach, uncovering a small cluster of long-buried boulders carved with animals, gods and servant girls.

    The December 26 tsunami ravaged hundreds of miles of shoreline across Asia. It killed at least 126,000 people in Indonesia and at least 31,000 in Sri Lanka. In India, 10,700 people are confirmed dead, with more than 5,600 missing.

    Mahabalipuram, capital of an ancient kingdom and famous for its elaborate Hindu temples, escaped mostly unscathed, with only three dead and limited damage.

    And there's something else the tsunami gave back -- tourists, drawn by heated headlines in the Indian media about a rediscovered Atlantis.

    "People are coming to see what the tsunami dug up," said Timothy, who sells sea shells and plastic palm trees at a beachside souvenir stand. "Only because of these new things are people coming."

    Tourism is a major employer here, a reflection of a spreading Indian middle class, and the coast road is lined with mom-and-pop resorts and cheap restaurants. If the tsunami scared most tourists away, in Mahabalipuram it also brought some back.

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