Book: Case Studies in the Silk Roads Archaeology
Chapter: 7. The Nala Sopara Surface Survey Project – A Report on the Archaeological Investigation of the Ancient Indian Ocean Port
Since ancient times Indian ports have played a vital role in trade and commerce, both international as well as local and regional. One of the chief ports of the Konkan coast was Sopara, mentioned in the Periplus and by Ptolemy. Its antiquity and importance have been confirmed archaeologically by various excavations which were, however, superficial. Therefore, the systematic study of this ancient port site was lacking. In our paper we will discuss the results of the pilot research project conducted in January 2020 by the team from the Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw and the Indian Numismatic, Historical and Cultural Research Foundation in Mumbai, which aimed to study and document an archaeological landscape of Sopara. We will present the result of the surface survey, which was supplemented by the UAV mapping, metal detector survey, auger coring and GIS analysis. Those data will shed a new light on how people living in Sopara used the landscape and interacted with it, on the urban planning of the ancient port site, as well as on the long-term development of Sopara. The role of Sopara as both member of the greater South Indian cultural landscape, and as a participant in Indian Ocean trade relations will be discussed as well.