A team of archaeologists accompanied by high officials from Dhaka and Patuakhali yesterday examined the site of the historic boat, found under the sand in Kuakata beach on June 7 this year, to chalk out a technical strategy for salvation of the boat by February 2013.
As the team led by Director General of the Department of Archaeology Begum Shirin Akhtar reached the spot, about 1.5 kilometres east of Kuakata Zero Point, they found the 72-foot-long and 22.5-foot-wide boat covered with sand. They conducted digging, revealing a part of the wooden structure.
Experts believe the boat belonged to the Rakhaine settlers who escaped from the Arakan province of Myanmar and migrated to the area over 200 years ago.
At a meeting in presence of the superintendent of police, the acting deputy commissioner of Patuakhali and the UNO of Kalapara, the team formed a technical committee comprising experts.
The committee headed by Yves Marre, a French born Bangladeshi expert, will start work for salvaging the boat on December 23.
“We are confident that we shall be able to salvage and restore the boat which has historic value. However, it is going to be a challenging task," Yves Marre told this correspondent.
Rear Admiral (retd) A Taher, former Navy chief, Professor Mozammel Haque of archaeology department of Jahangirnagar University, Md Shah Alam Sarder, acting deputy commissioner of Patuakhali, Munira Sultana, official of cultural ministry, Afroza Khan Mita, assistant director, regional office of archaeology department, went to the sight as members of the team.
According to a survey report of the then British government in the early eighteenth century, 4,049 Rakhaines (including 1,909 women) lived in the southern region of present Bangladesh.
The number rose to 8,600 in 1911 and 16,394 in 1951 but later number of Rakhaine people decreased to 12,190 in 1961 and 3,713 in 1979, according to the history book.
Many Rakhaines died during the onslaught of devastating cyclones that hit the coastal areas in 1960, 1964, 1965, and 1970 while many others went back to Myanmar due to increased salinity and reduced productivity in their agricultural land and alleged occupation of their land and property by local Bangalees, sources said.
Now Rakhaines live in 515 households at 47 paras (small areas inhabited by community people) in six upazilas under Patuakhali and Barguna districts.