Last year we had some posts about an ancient boat discovered in in Kadakkarappally, Kerala. This boat was considered to be somewhere between 600 to a 1000 years old and the 72 foot boat, according to initial reports was built using anjili, a wood found in Kerala. The boat according to report was built by foreign seafarers
According to a new research paper we have more details on this boat, which was apparently used to transport people or commodities between coastal ports and interior backwaters. Traditionally boats built in Kerala never used iron and it was assumed that such practice started with the arrival of Europeans in Kerala, starting with Vasco da Gama in 1498.
This boat which has been dated between 13 and 15th centuries, provides proof that shipmakers in Kerala were using iron fastners before the arrival of Europeans. The authors suggest that since Kerala was a main port in the Indian Ocean trade network, it is possible that local shipmakers would have encountered ships using iron fastners and got “inspired”.
What about the theory that it was built by foreigners?
The Thaikkal-Kadakkarappally boat, therefore, has features in common with several different traditions of boatbuilding. The form of the boat appears to mirror one strand of Chinese boatbuilding and the lashed lugs are a feature commonly found in South-East Asian shipbuilding. The use of lap joints between adjacent planks is typically Indian while nails clenched over a rove are normally only identified with north European building traditions. The boat itself, however, was clearly built locally. All three species of wood identified in the remains are indigenous to Kerala. Anjily, in particular, is used for almost all of the plank-built craft in Kerala today as it is strong, resilient, fairly cheap and widely available. It is possible that the boat was constructed by foreign shipbuilders settled in Kerala, but there is no reason to conclude that the Thaikkal-Kadakkarappally boat is not an Indian vessel, built in India by Indian shipbuilders.[The Thaikkal-Kadakkarappally Boat]
It was expected that the climate of Kerala would not allow for the preservation of of archaeological material, especially in waterlogged areas. But this boat somehow survived.