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ArchaeologyPart of Humanities

Research project: Boats of South Asia (1996 - 2001) - Dormant - Dormant

Currently Active: 

Formerly directed by Professor Sean McGrail and then led by Dr Lucy Blue, the 'Boats of South Asia' Project conducted fieldwork in the Indian sub-continent between 1996 and 2000.

Project Overview

Funded by the Society for South Asian Studies and supported by Archaeology, the project recorded a number of 'traditional' vessels of the region. The aim was to produce accurate plans of the vessels as well as to record their construction together with the environment and context within which the boats are used. The Indian sub-continent still offers a relatively rare ethnographic resource with a unique range of boat types still used by a variety of different cultures. Yet, it is becoming increasingly evident that boat-building traditions are rapidly changing, and that wooden vessels are being replaced by metal and glass reinforced plastic, and being fitted with engines. The urgency of ethnographic boat recording is, however, not just as a record in its own right but also as a potential means of shedding light on archaeological data and helping to interpret how and why vessels are constructed. For example, amongst the boats recorded is almost uniquely constructed reverse-clinker patia fishing boat of Orissa, north-east India.

The volume Boats of South Asia was published by RoutledgeCurzon in 2003.

Associated research themes

Maritime archaeology


Key Publication

    McGrail, S., Blue, L., Kentley, E., & Palmer, C. (2003). Boats of South Asia. (Routledge Studies in South Asia). London, UK; New York, US: RoutledgeCurzon; In association with The Society for South Asian Studies.

Book Chapter


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