An Ancient Iron Cargo in the Indian Ocean: The Godavaya Shipwreck
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The Godavaya shipwreck, located off Sri Lanka’s southern coast at a depth of approximately 33 m (110 ft.), is one of the oldest shipwrecks yet discovered in the Indian Ocean. Dated to between the second century B.C.E and the first century C.E., its excavation and study is vitally important to augmenting our current understanding of maritime trade and ancient seafaring activities in this region of the world. As such, the Godavaya shipwreck represents a unique opportunity to examine existing scholarship concerning Indian Ocean trade. The focus of this thesis is the examination of the site’s iron concretion pile – made up of corroded iron bar or strap-shaped ingots – via XRF and SEM analysis to potentially help answer questions about these materials and ultimately the shipwreck itself. The historical background of iron in the region will be examined, particularly its production in Sri Lanka and its appearance at terrestrial sites, in order to contextualize the material carried onboard the Godavaya shipwreck. To that extent, this work will incorporate ancient sources that discuss Sri Lanka and its maritime trade, focusing not only on well-known Greek works like the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea but also on less frequently considered Chinese texts like the Han Shu and The Sea Route from Guangzhou to Countries in the Indian Ocean – manuscripts that underscore the island’s connection to the far East. Lastly, a discussion of the degradation of iron in a marine environment and a proposed conservation treatment plan of the metal cargo are within the scope of this research.
Dimucci, Arianna Michelle (2015). An Ancient Iron Cargo in the Indian Ocean: The Godavaya Shipwreck. Master's thesis, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from