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A 2nd-Century BC Shipwreck in the Indian Ocean and the Role of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara as the Protector of Mariners

Lecture: Other UCB Archaeology | April 18 | 5:15-6:30 p.m. | 308J Doe Library


Osmund Bopearachchi

Department of History of Art


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The HISTORY OF ART DEPARTMENT is proud to announce

          a lecture by Professor Osmund Bopearachchi, of the CNRS, Paris, and the Department of History of Art, UC Berkeley:

                    "A 2nd-CENTURY BC SHIPWRECK in the INDIAN OCEAN and the ROLE of the BODHISATTVA AVALOKITESVARA as the PROTECTOR of MARINERS"

Sri Lanka played an important role in long-distance maritime trade as a result of
its central position in the Indian Ocean. The most important characteristic of all the
island’s ancient ports is their location at the estuaries of rivers, which must have
facilitated transactions with the interior. Archaeological data obtained from excavations
and surface explorations provide much needed evidence for the 'international' contacts
established between South India and Sri Lanka. It is well known that Buddhism in many
ways enhanced the growth of trade. Avalokiteśvara was worshiped as the patron bodhisattva
of mariners who protected them against the inevitable perils of distant voyages. The
recent discovery of a shipwreck three miles from the ancient site of Godavaya, at a
depth of 110 feet, has revolutionized our knowledge on the history of maritime trade
in South Asia, particularly between India and Sri Lanka. In December 2010 and January
2012, respectively, two test dives were carried out by an international team composed
of divers and archaeologists from Sri Lanka (Department of Archaeology), the USA (INA,
Texas A & M, and UC Berkeley) and France (CNRS). Carbon-14 analyses carried out on
three wood samples date the shipwreck to the 2nd century BC, which makes it the oldest
ever found in the Indian Ocean. Given the importance of Godayaya as the main maritime
trading center of the southern coast, it is no wonder that so many images of Avalokiteśvara,
as the protector of mariners, were found along the Walwe Ganga.



All are welcome.

REFRESHMENTS WILL BE SERVED.

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astewart@berkeley.edu