Sopara is an ancient port city located in western India. In the first centuries AD it was one of the most important sea junctions connecting the Asian continent with the Mediterranean. But in the third century AD the city was suddenly abandoned by its inhabitants, and until now scholars have not known the reason for this mass exodus.
However, thanks to the joint research of Polish and Indian archaeologists, the mystery of Sopara has finally been solved. Scientists conducted fieldwork, used various methods of data collection and analysis, as well as imagery from a flying drone. This made it possible to create a digital model of the area and obtain three-dimensional images of the surface of the remains of the ancient city.
One of the key findings of the archaeologists was the wells and channels that ran in Sopara. The study of these wells revealed that the townspeople left the city because of the silting of the waterways connecting Sopara to the Indian Ocean. This was a reason that scientists could not find before, as they found no traces of armed invasion, fires or natural disasters.
Dr. Emilia Smagur of the University of Warsaw, who led the study on the Polish side, shared her opinion of the findings. She noted that the soil samples were sent to the Phytolith Research Center in Pune for further study. This will help scientists reconstruct the natural and urban environment of ancient Sopara.
In addition, archaeologists were able to determine the exact size of the port city. It turned out that Sopara occupied an area of about one square kilometer. The city had a large harbor and local buildings were built of burnt clay bricks. More information about the layout of the city and the size of the buildings, archaeologists promise to publish in the near future.
Sopara is also mentioned in ancient sources, including Ptolemy’s Geography. In Indian written sources, this city appears as an important Buddhist and Brahmanical center as well as a rich trading center of Aparantha. It is noteworthy that the port of Sopara was revived in the sixth century AD and flourished until the 13th century, as the diaries of ancient Arab travelers attest.
The study of Sopara was the first systematic study of this ancient port city. It has contributed to a better understanding of the history of the site and scientists plan to excavate more here.