City-based Madhumathy Chandrasekaran, the first female trained maritime archaeologist in the country, wants to explore different aspects of nautical archaeology.
“After my first dive, I realised that diving was going to be my life. I decided then to become a diving instructor and travel the world. But things changed after becoming a maritime archaeologist — the course and the exposure gave me a different purpose to explore maritime possibilities in India. I wanted to explore archaeology underwater or anything marine related. For example, it can be even a shipwreck on the shore. There are two parts of maritime archaeology — one is nautical and the other is submerged landscape. Nautical archaeology is the study of the remains of boats and ships and the cultures that created and used them. And I am more interested in the nautical aspect. I wanted to research on traditional boats, historical and colonial shipwrecks. The submerged landscape is about studying coastal communities that have been affected by sea-level changes. These coastal communities would have vanished thousands of years ago. So, what we do is put their stories together by investigating the material that is available today,” she says.
The youngster has already got admission to do PhD in maritime archaeology in a university in Australia. “My research would be a comparison study of traditional boats in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. I will also be focusing on how boat-building traditions have changed over the years. In the meantime, I am also looking out for jobs in maritime archaeology,” the youngster adds.
During her studies in Australia, she was chosen one among the three students from the university to discover the oldest South Australian shipwreck. “It was a big collaborative effort and I was so excited about teaming up with renowned names in maritime archaeology. The weather condition was bad and we couldn’t find the shipwreck for the first three days. On the fourth day, we found the remains of the shipwreck and it was one of the most beautiful experiences I had. Moreover, I got an opportunity to closely work with veterans in the field — the way they planned the entire programme, how they deciphered things, etc,” she reminisces.