QUSEIR-AL-QADIM, EGYPT, February 20, 2008: A broken storage jar with
inscriptions in an ancient form of Tamil script, dated to the first century
BCE., has been excavated in Egypt.
Dr. Roberta Tomber, a pottery specialist at the British Museum, London,
identified the fragmentary vessel as a storage jar made in India. Iravatham
Mahadevan, a specialist in Tamil epigraphy, has confirmed that the
inscription on the jar is in Tamil written in the Tamil Brahmi script of
about the first century.
Earlier excavations at this site about 30 years ago yielded two pottery
inscriptions in Tamil Brahmi from the same era. Additionally, a pottery
inscription was found in 1995 at Berenike, a Roman settlement of the Red Sea
coast of Egypt. These discoveries proved material evidence to corroborate
the literary accounts by classical Western authors and the Tamil Sangam
poets about the flourishing trade between the India and Rome, via the Red
Sea ports, in the early centuries CE.
BHUBANESWAR, INDIA, February 20, 2008: Indian archaeologists say they
have found remains which point to the existence of a city which
flourished 2,500 years ago in eastern India. Discovered at Sisupalgarh,
near Bhubaneswar, capital of Orissa, the items found during point to a
highly developed urban settlement. The population of the city could have
been in the region of 20,000 to 25,000, the archaeologists claim.
The excavations include 18 stone pillars, pottery, terracotta ornaments
and bangles, finger rings, ear spools and pendants made of clay.
R.K. Mohanty of the department of archaeology, Deccan College, Pune, who
is one of the two researchers involved in the excavations, said "The
significance of this ancient city becomes clear when one bears in mind
the fact that the population of classical Athens was barely 10,000." Mr.
Mohanty, along with Monica Smith of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology,
University of California, has been carrying out limited excavations at
the site every year since 2005.
Workers digging at the future site of
a Wal-Mart store in suburban Mesa have unearthed the bones of a
prehistoric camel that's estimated to be about 10,000 years old.
Arizona State University geology
museum curator Brad Archer hurried out to the site Friday when he got
the news that the owner of a nursery was carefully excavating bones
found at the bottom of a hole being dug for a new ornamental citrus
"There's no question that this is a
camel; these creatures walked the land here until about 8,000 years ago,
when the same event that wiped out a great deal of mammal life took
place," Archer told The Arizona Republic.
I thought most of he extinctions look
place well before 8k
Anil K. Pokharia
Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeobotany, 53, University Road,
Lucknow 226 007, India
Investigation of botanical remains
from an ancient site, Tokwa at the confluence of Belan and Adwa rivers,
Mirzapur District, Uttar Pradesh (UP), has brought to light the agriculture-
based subsistence economy during the Neolithic culture (3rd-2nd millennium
BC). They subsisted on cereals, viz. Oryza sativa, Triticum aestivum and
Hordeum vulgare, supplemented by leguminous seeds of Lens culinaris, Pisum
arvense and Vigna radiata.
Evidence of oil-yielding crops has been documented by recovery of seeds of
Linum usitatissimum and Brassica juncea. Fortuitously, an important find
among the botanical remains is the seeds of South American custard apple,
regarded to have been introduced by the Portuguese in the 16th century. The
remains of custard apple as fruit coat and seeds have also been recorded
from other sites in the Indian archaeological context, during the Kushana
Period (AD 100-300) in Punjab and Early Iron Age (1300-700 BC) in UP. The
factual remains of custard apple, along with other stray finds discussed in
the text, favour a group of specialists, supporting with diverse arguments,
the reasoning of Asian€ ¦’¶American contacts, before the discovery of
America by Columbus in 1498. Further, a few weeds have turned up as an
admixture in the crop remains."
Archaeologists in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal
have discovered small weapons made of stone which are around 15,000-20,000 years
old. The artefacts - dating to the Stone Age - were found during excavations in
Murshidabad district, near Bangladesh. Archaeologists say the find is
potentially significant as it suggests man's presence in the area dates back
much earlier than previously believed.
Finds such as this on the floodplains of the River Ganges are
very rare. However, there is ample evidence of stone age activity in India's
The weapons - which include small axes - were discovered at
Ekani-Chandpara village near Sagardighi, which is an ancient site.
Archaeologists say the weapons were found from a soil layer belonging to the
mid-Pleistocene period - much below the Holocene layer where present human
habitation takes place.
"We have not only discovered the weapons at this site, but
raw materials and the scraps were also found," Dr Gautam Sengupta, director of
the State Archaeology Department, told the BBC. "This proves that the weapons
were made at this place itself."
Another reason why the find is so significant, archaeologists
say, is because Stone Age weapons are not normally found at such an old soil
in the Gangetic alluvial plains. However it is well known that raw materials for
making weapons are easily found in the plateau region and most Stone Age
discoveries are from this area.
So far, no human fossils or remains other than some charcoal
have been found at the site. Scientists have yet to confirm how old the charcoal
"The history of civilisation in this region has suddenly gone back by around
20,000 years," one archaeologist said. After the discovery, two eminent
geo-archaeologists - Prof SN Rajguru and Dr Bhaskar Deotare - visited the
excavation site and confirmed that the weapons date back to the smaller Stone
Age. The discovery was made by chance, Dr Sengupta said.
"We were digging the site for some archaeological evidence of
the Sultanate period. We were expecting some ancient artefacts related to Sultan
Hussein Shah," he said - referring to a former ruler from the area.
"We did find those, but our archaeologists kept on digging to
unearth some more historical evidence of that period and now we have found these
Stone Age weapons," Dr Sengupta said. After winding up the excavation at Ekani
Chandpara in a couple of weeks, archaeologists are planning to launch a search
for ancient human habitation in a wider area.
History will be re-written. If the proposed archaeological site in Garo
Hills, excavated in 1992 is to be believed as one of the biggest cities,
a religious centre cast out of mighty Bramaputra River from the fourth
century AD. Some scholars believe that Wadagokgre in West Garo Hills was
an ancient kingdom of Kamrupa.
Is Guwahati the site where the ancient
Kamrupa existed? This and
many more questions, which are still mired in controversy, could be answered
more vividly when the archeologists excavate the entire Bhaitbari-Tikrikilla
area in Meghalaya's West Garo Hills district.
Hold your eyes as we
take you to this remote archeological site that once shot into fame
excavation finding in 1992, but later on slipped
into the back burner.
Wadagokgre is the site of an ancient
civilization; believe to be cast out of the mighty majesty
BramaputraRiver in the fourth century
AD or even earlier. The site is located in a small remote hamlet in West
Garo Hills of Meghalaya. The excavation so far have clearly demonstrated
that this site was a sprawling township with Buddhism, Hinduism and
amalgamation of the two being widely practiced in this area.
In 1992, AK Sharma of ASI,
excavated the site and unearthed the three
temple sites – with numerous Shiva lingas – and a Buddhist
But the prominent and
the most impressive discovery of the site is this OctagonalTemple with eight
miniature octagons, each having a Shiva Lings. The
structure is of a more magnificient architecture, having eight square
subsidiary shrines radiating from the eight arms of the main octagon. This
is perhaps one of the unique discoveries during the excavation. The total
plan of the temple is 13 m in width and .90 m in height.
are likely to reveal further remains of an earlier habitation, besides
unravelling the historical antiquity of the plains-belt of the State of
which very little is known from recorded history," Williamson Sangma Museum
curator Dr. Julius Marak said.
The Township viewed to
be well fortified, has a large number of tanks inside and on the other
prestigious heights is located a number of burn bricks temple. This is
another thrilling unexpected discovery, the site of a structure associated
with Buddhism, which is commonly known as stupa. The stupa belongs to a
category of stupa, which is structurally termed as mud stupa. However,
nothing is definitely known at present about the history of the site
including the era it flourished.
Scholars believe that nearly 20 temple sites
which have been there might have been palatial complexes and habitational
areas for the population of the town. "Government will tie up with ASI North
East circle to carry out further excavations of the entire Bhaitbari site,
which is about 20 sq km" Dr. Marak said.
The archaeological findings which have yet
to be adequately unraveled and carbon-dated are reported to be of
considerable antiquity. The finds are of artifacts, which reveal the
existence of planned places of worship with exquisitely designed
masonry oil lamps.
In Williamson Sangma
museum, Shillong deities of Ganesh, Parvati, Kubera and Yaksha have been
preserved. The terracotta
tiles and their stylistic taste and the existence of the
stupa in Bhaitbari has forced the scholars somehow to conclude that this
ancient fortified city may be contemporaneous to the reign of Harsha
Vardhana, i.e., to the first half of the 7th Centry A.D.
The sites still stand as a challenge for
those historians and scholars who have the will and courage to dig out its
historic truth for the knowledge of the present and the benefit of the
future. The site has not been properly promoted hence very few devotees,
tourist and scholars visit this area. It demands an
immediate attention, recognition, publicity and research.
It is only after the
excavation of the 'inhabited' or 'residential' area can anything concrete be
said about the history of the place.
7. 1400-yr-old Monastery Unearthed
22 Aug 2008, 0220 hrs IST, Jhimli Mukherjee Pandey,TNN
KOLKATA: A 30-foot-high mound in a
nondescript Bengal village, which has spawned many a legend and mystery, may
yield one of the biggest archaeological finds in the country. The remains of a
huge yet exquisite monastery are emerging from the sands of time.
Archaeologists believe it is one of
the missing monasteries mentioned in Hiuen Tsang's memoirs that was yet to be
found. The monastery reportedly dates back to the seventh century - the time
when the Chinese Buddhist monk made his 17-year walk across India.
The site of the find is in
Moghalmari village, five kilometres from Dantan in West Midnapore. The
excavation is being carried out by the archaeology department of Calcutta
University, partly funded by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
Hiuen Tsang had visited Bengal during
the reign of King Sasanka and wrote in detail about Tamralipta and a monastery
he saw here. But later records do not mention the existence of monasteries in
this region. It has remained a matter of great interest among archaeologists
and a source of many a debate. However, archaeologists feel that the Moghalmari
excavation will finally set the record straight.
The 30-foot-high mound, which had
hidden the monastery for centuries, was locally called Sakhisena and is the
stuff of local legend. Local people attach a large number of myths to it,
linking it to Sasanka and the pre-Pala times.
A couple of years ago, a team from
the department had spent quite a few months in Moghalmari as part of a project
backed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The experts were
tracking an ancient navigation route passing through Dantan but stumbled on
something much bigger.
"Our attention was quickly drawn to
the mound by the local people, who showed us hundreds of artefacts and
statuettes of stone, stucco and terracotta that they had collected for
generations. These precious relics adorn homes, libraries, schools and other
buildings in the village," said Asok Datta, a faculty member who led the team
This team then prepared a project
report on the possible existence of a mastic site under the mound and sent it
to ASI which immediately gave the permission for excavation.
Seals, terracotta remains, bricks,
pottery and the like tumbled out of the dirt. Experts say it is turning out to
be one of the largest monasteries in eastern India and certainly one of its
kind in the country, owing to the fact that all the ornamentation on the walls
and domes are made of stucco. "This is interesting because in the other
monasteries, even those at Gaya, stucco designs are only in the sanctum
sanctorum. But here, the entire monastery has stucco decorations all over. This
is not all. We have excavated the eastern flank of the monastery and were
amazed to find that the length of one side is 61 metres - comparable with the
largest in the country," Datta added.
The excavated portions of the
monastery show cells that served as residences for monks lined on the sides of
the building that opened into a central courtyard. "What has excited us most is
the discovery of a rare Buddha stone sculpture from stratified context,
representing the Buddha in the well known Bhumisparshamudra. Two stone heads,
presumably of the Buddha, have also been found but we are waiting for
ratification. So have a large number of terracotta seals," Datta said.
The university sent the artefacts to
Bratindranath Mukherjee, an expert in ancient seals. He dated the seals
"unmistakably" to the seventh century and also deciphered them. "They are of
the post-Gupta era, which dates them to the late 6th to early 7th century. Some
of them bear sentences like, 'propagation of dharma does not happen without a
lot of self sacrifice," Mukherjee said. The ornamentation on the monastery
resembles Buddhist designs that were popular in the North West, especially
Gandhar, say experts.
The Asiatic Society is documenting
the excavation. "It is an amazing discovery. The first part of the publication
is complete and will be released on Saturday during President Pratibha Patil's
visit," said Ramkrishna Chatterjee, publications secretary of the society.
8. New finds take archaeologists closer to
27 Dec 2008, 0330 hrs IST, Bhama Devi Ravi, TNN
CHENNAI: The conch and the Sudarshana
Chakra are unmistakable. Although the figures do not match popular images of
Kirshna sporting a peacock feather, archaeologists are convinced that the coins
are of Krishna, revered as an avatar of Vishnu.
"These square coins, dating back to
180- BC, with Krishna on one side and Balram on the other, were unearthed
recently in Al Khanoun in Afghanistan and are the earliest proof that Krishna
was venerated as a god, and that the worship had spread beyond the Mathura
region," says T K V Rajan, archaeologist and founder-director, Indian Science
Monitor, who is holding a five-day exhibition, In search of Lord Krishna,' in
the city from Saturday.
Having done extensive research in
Brindavan, Rajan is convinced that a lot of the spiritual history of ancient
India lies buried. "Close to 10,000 Greeks, who came in the wake of Alexander
the Great, were Krishna's devotees. There is an inscription by Heliodorus, the
Greek ambassador at Takshila , which reads Deva, deva, Vasudeva. Krishna is my
god and I have installed this Garuda Pillar at Bes Nagar (now in Bihar),'" says
According to him the Archaeological
Survey of India (ASI) has unearthed many sites that throw fresh light on the era
of Krishna. "ASI is expected to release the full findings next year. Many of the
unearthed artifact have a close resemblance to materials of what is believed to
be the Harappan civilization. The findings may show that Krishna's life was the
dividing line between India's spiritual history and the society's gradual shift
towards a materialistic one," says Rajan.
Interestingly, a lot of what has been
uncovered closely resemble the narration in the texts of Mahabharatha and the
Bhagavatham," he adds. Both the spiritual works are revered by the Hindus as
their holy books.
It has been over five years since the
discoveries were made at Tholavira near Dwaraka, close to Kutch. Much progress
has been made due to the application of thermoluminous study (TL) in
ascertaining the age of artifact. "It is possible to get the diffusion of atomic
particles in the clay pottery unearthed and arrive at an accurate date," points
out Rajan. Tholavira itself is believed to be the capital city as detailed in
the opening chapters of Bhagavatham. Rajan points to an image of a plough, made
of wood, which is mentioned in the Bhagavatham.
The findings could lay a trail to
understanding Krishna's life (said to be 5,000 years ago) and times, as a
historical fact, says Rajan. The exhibition will be open till December 31 at Sri
Parvathy Gallery, Eldams Road.
9. Discovery of Older City than Mohenjodaro
Jan 22: An archaeological site, about 5,500 years old, has been found in Lakhian
Jo Daro near Goth Nihal Khoso in the district of Sukkur. The find is said to be
of the era of Kot Diji.
A team of 22 archaeologists headed by
the chairman of Shah Abdul Latif University's archaeology department and Lakhian
Jo Daro project director Ghulam Mustafa Shar found some semi-precious and
precious stones and utensils made of clay, copper and other metals during
excavation on Thursday. The remains are said to be older than those of
Mr Shar told Dawn that remains of a
'faience' mirror factory had been found at the project's second block. It was
believed to be of the era of mirror factories of Italy which dates back to some
He said a painting had also been
found and discovery of more such items could establish the site as 9,000 years
old, like the remains found at Mehar Garh in Balochistan and Jericho in
"At present, we can say that it is
older than Moenjodaro," he said. Mr Shar said that archaeology professors and
students from Punjab University, Peshawar University and Islamabad would join
the team in a couple of days.
He said the work on the second block
would continue for a month and more items could be found. Sukkur District Nazim
Syed Nasir Hussain visited the site on Thursday and asked the project director
to prepare proposals for a museum.
CHENNAI: In a rare discovery, the
Archaeological Survey of India has found at Bhirrana, a Harappan site in
Fatehabad district in Haryana, a red potsherd with an engraving that resembles
the 'Dancing Girl,' the iconic bronze figurine of Mohenjodaro. While the bronze
was discovered in the early 1920s, the potsherd with the engraving was
discovered during excavations by the ASI in 2004-05.
A few hundred kilometres separate
Mohenjodaro, now in Pakistan, and Bhirrana. The potsherd, discovered by a team
led by L.S. Rao, Superintending Archaeologist, Excavation Branch, ASI, Nagpur,
belonged to the Mature Harappan period. Mr. Rao called it the "only one of its
kind" because "no parallel to the Dancing Girl, in bronze or any other medium,
was known" until the latest find.
In an article in the latest issue of
*Man and Environment *(Volume XXXII, No.1, 2007), published by the Indian
Society for Prehistoric and Quaternary Studies, Pune, Mr. Rao says, "... the
delineation [of the lines in the potsherd] is so true to the stance, including
the disposition of the hands, of the bronze that it appears that the craftsman
of Bhirrana had first-hand knowledge of the former."
In his article, Mr. Rao has said the
bronze was justly known for its stance and workmanship. "With its tilted head,
flexed legs, right hand resting on the hip and the left suspended by its side,
the bronze sculpture, although nude, enjoys a modest ornamentation with a
necklace, wristlets and armlets. A statuette of 11 cm in height, it occupies a
unique position in the sculptural art of the Mature Harappan period."
http://www.thehindu.com/2007/09/12/images/2007091255372202.jpg *The potsherd
with the engraving. *
Mr. Rao called the engraving on the
potsherd "a highly stylised figure whose torso resembles that of an hour-glass
or two triangles meeting at their apex." Upon the horizontal shoulder line, a
partly damaged round head was visible. In consonance with the bronze, "here too,
the right hand is akimbo, and the left is suspended by its side. Slight oblique
strokes on the right upper arm are suggestive of the presence of armlets. The
lower portion of the body is missing owing to damage on the sherd. The clothing
is indicated by horizontal hatchings on the chest and abdomen, and vertical
hatchings on the thighs."
Mr. Rao called Bhirrana an
"exemplary" and "paradigmatic" site that stood out on two more grounds. For the
first time in the post-Independence period, artefacts called Hakra ware,
belonging to the pre-early Harappan period, were found as independent,
stratified deposits at Bhirrana. This and other discoveries established the
presence of an unbroken cultural sequence at Bhirrana: from the Hakra ware
culture and its evolution into early Harappan, early Mature Harappan and Mature
Harappan until the site was abandoned.
The discoveries of these periods
include underground dwelling pits; house-complexes on streets; a fortification
wall; bichrome pottery; terracotta cups; arrowheads, fish-hooks and bangles, all
in copper; incised copper celts; terracotta toy-carts and animal figurines; and
beads of semi-precious stones.
Seals made of steatite of the Mature
Harappan period were found. They have animal figures such as a unicorn, a deer
with wavy antlers, a bull with outsized horns, and an animal with three heads -
of a deer, a unicorn and a bull. The seals also have typical Harappan legends on
them. All these were found during excavations in 2003-04, 2004-05 and 2005-06.
Mr. Rao and colleagues have written
on their work in *Puratattva *(Nos. 34, 35 and 36), a bulletin of the Indian
The Harappan Link
Discoveries made at Bhirrana in
Haryana provide the missing link in the evolution of Harappan civilisation
ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY OF INDIA
http://www.flonnet.com/fl2502/images/20080201504012901.jpg *The red
potsherd with the engraving resembling the Dancing Girl bronze figurine of
Mohenjodaro, found at Bhirrana.
THE Archaeological Survey of India's discoveries
at the Harappan sites of Bhirrana and Rakhigarhi, both in Haryana, in the past
one decade testify to the importance of these sites in the evolution of the
Harappan civilisation. While excavations were carried out in three consecutive
seasons - 2003-04, 2004-05 and 2005-06 - at Bhirrana in Fatehabad district,
excavations at Rakhigarhi in Hissar district lasted from 1997 to 2000. Both
sites are on the banks of the Saraswati river, now dried up.
In a rare discovery during the
excavations of 2004-05 at Bhirrana, the ASI found a thick red potsherd with an
engraving that resembles the Dancing Girl, the famous bronze figurine found at
Mohenjodaro in the early 1920s. Bhirrana is a few hundred kilometres from
Mohenjodaro, which is now in Pakistan. The potsherd with the engraving was
discovered by a team led by L.S. Rao, Superintending Archaeologist, Excavation
Branch, ASI, Nagpur. It belongs to the mature Harappan period.
L.S. Rao called the discovery "the
only one of its kind" because "no parallel to the Dancing Girl, either in bronze
or in any other medium, was known" until the potsherd was found. Bhirrana is an
"exemplary site" because, for the first time in post-Independence India, Hakra
ware belonging to the pre-early Harappan period were found as independent,
stratified deposits. L.S. Rao also called it a "paradigmatic site" because "to
put it in a nutshell, the importance of the excavation at Bhirrana lies in the
that we have strong evidence for the first time of an unbroken cultural
sequence, starting from the village culture represented by Hakra ware and its
evolution gradually into semi-urban and urban cultures till the site was finally
abandoned." Excavations at Bhirrana conclusively show that during the period of
Hakra ware culture, people lived in circular pits cut into the soil. There were
auxiliary pits for cooking and for industrial activities (such as melting
copper) and for religious purposes, including animal sacrifices. "In the present
state of knowledge," L.S. Rao said, "the Hakra ware culture belongs to the
fourth millennium B.C., or 6,000 years before the present."
In the early Harappan period, people
came out of the pits and built houses made of sun-baked bricks. The whole
settlement was within a fortification wall. In the mature Harappan period, the
entire settlement was once again reorganised and the city layout reoriented with
major and minor lanes, by-lanes and streets, which had house complexes. The
streets always cut one another at right angles.
The discoveries at Bhirrana include
underground dwelling pits; house complexes on streets and lanes; a fortification
wall; bichrome pottery; terracotta vases, bowls and cups; arrowheads, fish-hooks
and bangles, all made of copper; terracotta toy-carts and animal figurines; and
beads made of semi-precious stones such as faience, lapis lazuli, agate and
carnelian. One of the arrowheads, of the mature Harappan period, still retains a
fibre impression of the wooden haft.
Several mature Harappan period seals
made of steatite were also found in Bhirrana. The animals represented on the
obverse of these seals include unicorns, deer with wavy antlers and a bull with
outsized horns. The seals have typical Harappan legends. The reverse side of the
seals has a knob with perforations.
D.R. Sahni discovered Harappa (which
is also in Pakistan now) in Punjab in 1921 and R.D. Banerji discovered
Mohenjodaro in Sind a few months later in the same year. Both were
archaeologists of the ASI. The existence of these sites was known to scholars
for about 85 years before their actual discovery. What came to light after the
discoveries was that a highly developed civilisation (the Harappan civilisation,
or the Indus civilisation) had flourished on the banks of the rivers Indus and
Saraswati, around 3000 B.C. It was Banerji who discovered the "Dancing Girl".
The Harappan culture was a highly
developed, urbanised culture. People lived in houses that had several rooms,
bathrooms and underground drainage. The discovery of Harappa and Mohenjodaro,
and the many other sites that were excavated later, revealed the grandeur of
this civilisation, and scholars made consistent attempts to find out what had
preceded it. This curiosity drove archaeologists to locate more and more
BENOY K. BEHL/COLLECTION: NATIONAL MUSEUM, NEW DELHI
http://www.flonnet.com/fl2502/images/20080201504012902.jpg *The Dancing
Girl, the iconic bronze figurine of Mohenjodaro. *
Since the 1920s, about 300 Harappan
sites have been excavated in Pakistan and India. The sites excavated in India
include Bhirrana, Kunal, Rakhigarhi, Banawali, Bedhawa and Farmana in Haryana,
Sanauli in Uttar Pradesh, Dholavira and Lothal in Gujarat, Kalibangan and Baror
in Rajasthan, and Daimabad in Maharashtra.
At its height, the Harappan
civilisation flourished over an area of 2.5 million sq km, from Sutkagendor in
the Makran coast of Balochistan to Alamgirhpur in the east in Uttar Pradesh and
from Manda in Jammu to Daimabad in Ahmednagar district in Maharashtra.
Between 1972 and 1974, M.R. Mughal,
former Director-General of Archaeology and Museums, Pakistan, explored
Bahawalpur in the Cholistan region of Punjab, situated just across the
international border from adjoining Rajasthan. Mughal found a lot of pottery on
the surface there. The ware was named after the Hakra river, which flows there.
Ultimately, Hakra ware was found stratigraphically during the excavations at
Jalilpur, on the banks of the Ravi river near Harappa. It was found lying
beneath early Harappan
deposits. This was the story on the Pakistani side.
On the Indian side, although many
excavations were carried out at Kalibangan, Banawali, Rakhigarhi and Kunal, they
did not yield any independent horizon of Hakra ware culture in their earliest
levels. So there was a missing link in the Harappan civilisation archaeology
between Pakistan and India.
"For the first time now," L.S. Rao
said, "in post-Independence India, stratigraphically positioned Hakra ware
culture deposits have been exposed at Bhirrana. They show a typical early
village settlement, wherein dwelling pits were cut into the natural soil." These
pits had a superstructure. Interestingly, no post-holes were found on the floor
of the pits. (Posts would have supported the roof of these dwelling pits).
Pre-Angkor Civilization Site
March 5, 2009 (The Straits Times)
KUALA LUMPUR- MALAYSIAN
archaeologists on Thursday said they had discovered the main site of an ancient
kingdom that predates the Angkor temples of Cambodia and could be the oldest
civilisation in the region.
Archaeological team leader Professor
Mokhtar Saidin said the find, which could lead to a rewriting of history books
on the region, was made in two palm oil plantations in northern Kedah state last
He said buildings found at the site
indicate it was part of the ancient Hindu kingdom of Bujang which existed in the
area some time in the third century AD, predating the Angkor civilisation of
Cambodia which flourished from the 12th to 14th centuries. 'We have dated
artifacts from what we belive are an administration building and an iron smelter
to 1,700 BP (years before present) which sets the Bujang civilisation between
the third and fourth century AD,' he told AFP.
'We have only one date so far so we
can say it is one of the earliest civilisations in the region but with more
dates we will be able to verify whether it is the oldest civilisation in the
region,' he added. Mr Mokhtar said the iron smelter was a surprise find as it
showed that such an early civilisation was already quite advanced
technologically. 'We have 30 more mounds at the site that have to be excavated
and we are hoping to also find the port area for the kingdom as it was near the
sea,' he added.
'This will give us a clue to how the
civilisation was trading and influenced by China and India, who would have been
the two main powers back then to have influenced development in this region.'
Malaysian archaeologists last month also announced the discovery of stone tools
they believe are more than 1.8 million years old and the earliest evidence of
human ancestors in South-east Asia.
The stone hand-axes were discovered
last year in the historical site of Lenggong in northern Perak state, embedded
in a type of rock formed by meteorites. – AFP
11. Anchor of Chinese make found off Gujarat Coast
The Hindu [India],March 15, 2009
Marine archaeologists have found a stone anchor in the Gulf of Khambhat with a
design similar to the ones used by Chinese and Japanese ships in
the 12th-14th century AD, giving the first offshore evidence indicating India's
trade relations with the two Asian countries. This stone anchor was found during
an exploration headed by two marine archaeologists -- A S Gaur and B K Bhatt --
from the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO). "Though there are a lot of
references and Chinese pottery (found from coastal sites) indicating trade
relations between the two Asian nations (China and Japan) in the past, but this
anchor from the offshore region is the first evidence from Indian waters.
Similar type of anchors have been found from Chinese and Japanese waters,"
Mr.Gaur told PTI.
City archaeologists discover Harappan graves
The Times of
India, 9 Apr 2009
A team of archaeologists from the Deccan College Post Graduate and Research
Institute is back from Haryana where they stumbled upon a record 70 Harappan
graves at a site in Farmana, discovering the largest burial site of this
civilization in India so far. It is an extraordinary archaeological finding. A
big housing complex that matured during the
Harappan era was discovered by these archaeologists who have been working in
this little known village for the past three years. The archaeological team here
uncovered an entire town plan. The skeletal remains belong to an era between
2500 BC to 2000 BC.
1400-year-old Lakshmi Deity Found in J&K
The Hindu [India],
April 12, 2009
This shows the original and ancient Vedic connection that the area of Kashmir
has always had. A rare granite sculpture of Goddess Lakshmi, believed to be
1,400 years old, has been found at Waghama village along the river Jehlum in
Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir. The sculpture, that was found by the
farmers a few days ago, has been taken in possession by the state Archives and
Archeology department and its antiquity and artistic details are being studied,
its Deputy Director Peerzada Mohammad Ashraf said on Sunday. He said the farmers
stumbled upon the image when they were digging a field in Waghama-Bijbehara, 45
kms from here. They kept the image with them but some villagers tipped the local
police who recovered it and handed it over to the archaeology department. The
image is seven inches high and 4.5 inches wide and is seen as one of the most
important findings of the year, Mr. Ashraf said.
They Share Telltale Mutations With Modern-Day Indian Population, Reveals
Washington: Genetic research conducted by a team of Indian scientists has
indicated that aborigines, who initially arrived in Australia via south
Asia, may have originated from India.
evidence was found by Dr Raghavendra Rao, who worked with a team of
researchers from the Anthropological Survey of India, to find telltale
mutations in modern-day Indian populations that are exclusively shared by
research, the team sequenced 966 complete mitochondrial DNA genomes from
Indian ‘relic populations’.
“Mitochondrial DNA is inherited only from the mother and so allows us to
accurately trace ancestry. We found certain mutations in the DNA sequences
of the Indian tribes we sampled that are specific to Australian Aborigines,”
shared ancestry suggests that the Aborigine population migrated to Australia
via the so-called “Southern Route”.
“Southern Route” dispersal of modern humans suggests movement of a group of
hunter-gatherers from the Horn of Africa, across the mouth of the Red Sea
into Arabia and southern Asia at least 50 thousand years ago. Subsequently,
the modern human populations expanded rapidly along the coastlines of
southern Asia, southeastern Asia and Indonesia to arrive in Australia at
least 45 thousand years ago.
genetic evidence of this dispersal from the work of Rao and his colleagues
is supported by archeological evidence of human occupation in the Lake Mungo
area of Australia dated to approximately the same time period. Discussing
the implications of the research, Rao said, “Human evolution is
usually understood in terms of millions of years. This direct DNA evidence
indicates that the emergence of ‘anatomically modern’ humans in Africa and
the spread of these humans to other parts of the world happened only fifty
thousand or so years ago.”
respect, populations in the Indian subcontinent harbor DNA footprints of the
earliest expansion out of Africa,” he added. “Understanding human evolution
helps us to understand the biological and cultural expressions of these
people, with far reaching implications for human welfare,” he added. ANI
Aborigines Initially Arrived Via South Asia
ScienceDaily (July 21, 2009) —
Genetic research indicates that Australian Aborigines initially arrived via
south Asia. Researchers have found telltale mutations in modern-day Indian
populations that are exclusively shared by Aborigines.
Satish Kumar, Rajasekhara REDDY Ravuri, Padmaja Koneru, B P Urade, B N
Sarkar, A Chandrasekar and V R Rao. Reconstructing
Indian-Australian phylogenetic link. BMC
Evolutionary Biology, (in press) [link]
dispersal of biologically and behaviorally modern humans from their African
origins to Australia, by at least 45 thousand years via southern Asia has
been suggested by studies based on morphology, archaeology and genetics.
However, mtDNA lineages sampled so far from south Asia, eastern Asia and
Australasia show non-overlapping distributions of haplogroups within pan
Eurasian M and N macrohaplogroups. Likewise, support from the archaeology is
completely sequenced 966-mitochondrial genomes from 26 relic tribes of
India, we have identified seven genomes, which share two synonymous
polymorphisms with the M42 haplogroup, which is specific to Australian
Our results showing a
shared mtDNA lineage between Indians and Australian Aborigines provides
direct genetic evidence of an early colonization of Australia through south
Asia, following the "southern route".
15. Statue of Lord
Shiva’s sacred bull found at site of ancient Hindu temple in
Jakarta, January 7 (ANI): Archaeologists have found
a statue of Nandi, the sacred bull that carried the
Hindu god Shiva, among the ruins of what is believed
to be an ancient temple at an
excavation site in Yogyakarta in
The discovery of the statue, which in Hindu
mythology is said to embody sexual energy and
fertility, meant that the team would now continue
its work until Jan. 20, Indung Panca Putra, the head
of the excavation team from the Yogyakarta
Antiquities and Relics Conservation Agency, told The
“The statue is exquisite. The sculpture is carved
differently from other statues of Nandi. This one is
not depicted as fat,” Indung said.
Previous discoveries at the site, which is located
on the Indonesian Islamic University campus, include
a statue of Ganesha, Shiva’s divine son; a linga ,
the symbol of worship for Shiva; and a yoni , a
Hindu symbol for divine passage or birth.
“We strongly believe the temple had a roof and its
pillars were made of wood or bamboo,” Indung said.
He said that archeologists were working under the
assumption that the pillars had not been destroyed
by a volcanic mudflow hundreds of years ago, but had
instead been removed by people.
Indung said that the temple ruins were different
from other temples found in Central
“We have compared what we have found to what was
found in the temples of Sambisari, Gebang and
Kedulan. The comparisons have led us to believe that
the material used for the temple and its statues
were much harder and the sculptures are far more
refined,” Indung said.
The first discovery at the site, the Ganesha statue
on December 21, was made when the university was
preparing to lay foundations for a new library.
Indung said that excavation
machines uncovered rocks five-meters deep that
resembled an ancient building complex.
The conservation team, consisting of four
archaeologists and four engineers, has been working
ever since to find other statues. (ANI)
Mapping of stone tool artefacts on a Middle Palaeolithic occupation
surface under the Toba ash.
archaeological sites in southern and northern India have revealed how
people lived before and after the colossal Toba volcanic eruption 74,000
The international, multidisciplinary research team, led by Oxford
University in collaboration with Indian institutions, unveiled to a
conference in Oxford what it calls ‘Pompeii-like excavations’ beneath
the Toba ash.
The seven-year project examines the environment that humans lived in,
their stone tools, as well as the plants and animal bones of the time.
The team has concluded that many forms of life survived the
super-eruption, contrary to other research which has suggested
significant animal extinctions and genetic bottlenecks.
According to the team, a potentially ground-breaking implication of the
new work is that the species responsible for making the stone tools in
India was Homo sapiens. Stone tool analysis has revealed that the
artefacts consist of cores and flakes, which are classified in India as
Middle Palaeolithic and are similar to those made by modern humans in
Africa. ‘Though we are still searching for human fossils to definitively
prove the case, we are encouraged by the technological similarities.
This suggests that human populations were present in India prior to
74,000 years ago, or about 15,000 years earlier than expected based on
some genetic clocks,’ said project director Dr Michael Petraglia, Senior
Research Fellow in the School of Archaeology at the University of
This exciting new information questions the idea that the Toba
super-eruption caused a worldwide environmental catastrophe. Dr Michael
Petraglia, School of Archaeology
An area of widespread
speculation about the Toba super-eruption is that it nearly drove
humanity to extinction. The fact that the Middle Palaeolithic tools of
similar styles are found right before and after the Toba super-eruption,
suggests that the people who survived the eruption were the same
populations, using the same kinds of tools, says Dr Petraglia. The
research agrees with evidence that other human ancestors, such as the
Neanderthals in Europe and the small brained Hobbits in Southeastern
Asia, continued to survive well after Toba.
Although some scholars have speculated that the Toba volcano led to
severe and wholesale environmental destruction, the Oxford-led research
in India suggests that a mosaic of ecological settings was present, and
some areas experienced a relatively rapid recovery after the volcanic
The team has not discovered much bone in Toba ash sites, but in the
Billasurgam cave complex in Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, the researchers
have found deposits which they believe range from at least 100,000 years
ago to the present. They contain a wealth of animal bones such as wild
cattle, carnivores and monkeys. They have also identified plant
materials in the Toba ash sites and caves, yielding important
information about the impact of the Toba super-eruption on the
Dr Petraglia said: ‘This exciting new information questions the idea
that the Toba super-eruption caused a worldwide environmental
catastrophe. That is not to say that there were no ecological effects.
We do have evidence that the ash temporarily disrupted vegetative
communities and it certainly choked and polluted some fresh water
sources, probably causing harm to wildlife and maybe even humans.’
YOGYAKARTA, INDONESIA, February 24, 2010: Last
August when the private Islamic University of Indonesia decided to build
a library next to the mosque. In the two decades the university had
occupied its 79-acre campus outside Yogyakarta, no temple had ever been
found. But chances were high that they were around. By Dec. 11, a
construction crew had already removed nearly seven feet of earth. But
the soil proved unstable, and the crew decided to dig 20 inches deeper.
A backhoe then struck something unusually hard. The crack the backhoe
left on the temple wall would become the main sign of damage on what
experts say could be the best-preserved ancient monument found in Java,
a Hindu temple.
Researchers from the government’s Archaeological Office in Yogyakarta
headed to the campus the next day, excavated for 35 days and eventually
unearthed two 1,100-year-old small temples. “The temples are not so big,
but they have features that we haven’t found in Indonesia before,” Herni
Pramastuti, who runs the Archaeological Office, said, pointing to the
rectangle-shaped temple, the existence of two sets of linga and yoni,
and the presence of two altars.
Historians believe that Hinduism spread in Java in the fifth century,
followed three centuries later by Buddhism. Kingdoms hewing to both
Hindu and Buddhist beliefs flourished in Java before Islam in the 15th
century. But Islam itself incorporated beliefs and ceremonies from the
other two religions. Just as some unearthed temples in east Java have a
Hindu upper half and a Buddhist lower half, some early mosques had roofs
in the shape of Hindu temples, said Timbul Haryono, a professor of
archaeology at Gadjah Mada University here and an expert on Hinduism in
Southeast Asia. Early mosques faced not in Mecca’s direction, but west
or east in the manner of Hindu temples.
“Things didn’t change all of a sudden,” Mr. Haryono said. “Islam was
adopted through a process of acculturation.” In Indonesia’s arts, like
the wayang shadow puppetry that dramatizes Hindu epics, or in people’s
private lives, traces of the earlier religions survive, he said. Food,
flowers and incense still accompany many funerals for Muslims, in
keeping with Hindu and Buddhist traditions. “Hinduism was Indonesia’s
main religion for 1,000 years,” he said, “so its influence is still
strong.” “This is Indonesia,” said Suwarsono Muhammad, an official at
the Islamic University. In the long history of Indonesia, we have proven
that different religions can live peacefully.”
18. 4,500-year-old Harappan settlement excavated in Kutch
Ahmedabad, Mar 7, 2010 (PTI)
A vast settlement surrounded by a
fortified structure believed to be about 4,500 years old and belonging to
the Harappan civilisation has been excavated at Shikarpur village in Kutch
The team which has been excavating
the site in Bhachau taluka of Kutch since last three years, is headed by
Kuldeep Bhan and P Ajithprasad of the Department of Archaeology and Ancient
History of the Maharaja Sayajirao University, Vadodara.
"A huge fortified structure made out
of unbaked mud bricks has been excavated by our team. The ratio of height,
width and length of the bricks is 1:2:4 which is what we call Harappan
ratio," Ajithprasad told PTI.
"The fortification is spread over
nearly one hectare area, with 10 m thick walls," he said.
"Though the exact period when this
structure could have been constructed is yet to be ascertained, primarily it
appears to be roughly 4500-years-old, built between 2500 BC and 2200 BC and
is part of the Harappan civilisation," Ajithprasad said.
"The purpose of building such thick
walls could be protection from natural calamities, external enemy or to
impress upon other settlements," he added. According to the professor, the
fortification has an open space in the centre with small structures
surrounding it. "The site is one quarter the size of the biggest Harappan
site in the state located in Dholavira, Kutch and four times the size of
another site of the same era in Bagasra," Ajithprasad said. Situated on a
mound locally known as Valmio Timbo (mound) measuring about 3.4 hectares, it
is located 4.5 km south of Shikarpur village at the edge of the narrow creek
extending eastward from the Gulf of Kutch. It is close to National
Highway-15 connecting Kutch district with other parts of the state.
"The site was earlier excavated from
1987 to 1989 by the Gujarat State Archaeology Department but details about
it were not published and whatever little was published was inconclusive,"
Therefore, the site was taken up for
re-excavation due to its strategic location and establish the cultural
sequence as well as the settlement features in terms of economic activities,
During the three years of excavation,
the site has revealed Harappan artifacts, especially ceramics and triangular
terracotta cakes, spread rather evenly on the surface. In addition to the
classical Harappan pottery, the surface assemblage included small amounts of
regional pottery. Other sites of Harappan civilisation excavated in Gujarat
include Kanmer in Kutch, Gola Dhoro (Bagasara), Nageshwar, Nagwada, Kuntasi
in northern Saurashtra and Juni Kuran in northern Kutch.
The Italian archaeological mission in
Pakistan has discovered a large number of Buddhist sites and rock
shelters in Kandak and Kota valleys of Barikot in Swat in the North West
Frontier Province which depicted the carvings and paintings from the
bronze and iron ages. “These are some of the finest and most fascinating
ancient discoveries preserved in good condition,” said Director of the
archaeological mission, Dr Luca Maria Olivieri, yesterday. These rock
carvings depict agricultural cult scenes in red colours, cup marks meant
for rituals, for example, for holding liquids or preparing the ochre
pigment, dancing scenes, battle scenes and a large number of animals,”
said Dr Olivieri.
20. Ancient Chola
period temple unearthed in North Jaffna
special corr., Tuesday, 9 March 2010
A heap of ruins where a Hindu temple
of Chola period was believed to have been buried has been unearthed
in the Northern part of Delft. The temple is 40 feet long and 10
feet wide. It is built with lime stone. The roof is covered with
lime mixed plaster. The other parts of the temple are in ruins.
Professor P. Pushparatnam of the
Jaffna University History Department commenting on the findings,
said the people of the locality are unable to say when this temple
was built. The ruins indicate that the building would have been
built many years ago. It is opined that if this temple had been
built during the latter period of the Dutch reign or in the
beginning of British rule in Sri Lanka, the people would be in a
position to give some clues about the origin of the temple, he said.
The people of the area would not have
allowed the temple to go to ruin if it had been built during the
Dutch or British period. It can be surmised that the temple was
built before European rule in Sri Lanka, Prof. Pushparatnam said.
The statues and the art work on
stones, irrigation pipes made of baked clay and a coin found by one
of Prof. Pushparatnam’s students with the name of Rajaraja Cholan
embossed on it clearly indicate that the temple would have been
built during the Chola period.
Just outside Bhubaneswar, around 2,000 years ago,
stood one of old India's biggest cities. When they
chanced upon Sisupalgarh, excavators could only gape
in astonishment at its modern ways
like a happening settlement by historic standards: a
sprawling urban settlement that housed 20,000-25,000
people, street-linking gateways, pillared meeting
halls, water storage systems and disposable vessels
for daily use. In one of the richest hauls for
archaeologists in the country in recent times, a
12-member Indo-American expert team discovered the
remains of a city from the early historic period in
the outskirts of Bhubaneswar two
The team, comprising representatives
from Deccan College, Pune, and the University of
California, in collaboration with the ASI, had
conducted surface excavations at the fortified site
first reported by Prof B Lal in 1948. Fresh
excavation was restarted in 2005 to learn more about
this mystery city. A large quantity of debris,
including household pottery and terracotta
ornaments, were discovered during the exercise.
Enthused over the findings, the head
archaeologist of the excavation, Monica L Smith from
the University of California, had then told TOI:
"This is the most visible standing architectural
monument discovered in the country so far. It is a
huge city existing about 2,000 years ago." The
pillars were possibly part of a gigantic structure
and used for public gatherings. According to an
archaeologist from Deccan College, Pune, R K Mohanty,
a city could be known from its walls. "When it has
such well-built walls and such a big expanse, it
means it was a very important city," he says.
Explaining the importance of the ancient city,
Mohanaty says Sisupalgarh has four gateways and
could have housed a large number of people (compare
this to the 10,000 Athens could
manage). From photographs taken through geophysical
research methods, the team had found that a huge
urban setup, a much larger area than could possibly
be excavated, had existed at the site. "The findings
were mind-boggling. The lifestyle of the people then
could be more advanced than present-day life," Smith
had said. "Potteries found are polished and have
ownership marks. The huge number of cups and bowls
suggest people then practiced a use and throw
It is hard to say what sent
Sisupalgarh into terminal decline. The data and
findings when they will be made available to
scholars could lead to a conclusive answer.
The Löwenmensch (meaning lion-man in English)
is a puzzle. The provenance of this figure is
derived from the 1870s.
Significant is the discovery of the
Löwenmensch — a German term meaning
“lion-person” — as a larger Löwenmensch
sculpture was found in 1939 at the
Hohlenstein-Stadel site in a neighbouring
valley. Both works carry similar features and
have been dated to the Aurignacian period
between 31,000 and 33,000 years ago.
Dr.Nicholas Conard added: “The occupants of
Hohle Fels in the Ach Valley and
Hohlenstein-Stadel in the Lone Valley must have
been members of the same cultural group and
shared beliefs and practices connected with
therianthropic (half-man, half-animal) images of
felids (cats) and humans. The discovery lends
support to the hypothesis that Aurignacian
people practised a form of shamanism.”
The second site at Hohle Fels is a large
cave site with Middle and Upper Paleolithic
occupations, located in the Swabian Jura of
southwestern Germany, some 20 kilometers
southwest of the town of Ulm.
The cave deposits include a low density
Middle Paleolithic site and a long Upper
Paleolithic sequence with separate
Aurignacian, Gravettian and Magdalenian
occupations. Radiocarbon dates for the UP
components range between 29,000 and 36,000 years
Hohle Fels is best known for the recent recovery
of three pieces of carved ivory from the
Aurignacian period, which make up some of the
earliest portable art in the world.
The three figurines are of a horse’s head (or
possibly a bear), a water bird of some sort
possibly in flight, and a “Lowenmensch”, a half
lion/half human figurine. Previously, a similar
lion/human sculpture (although much larger) was
found at the Hohlenstein-Stadel site, an
Aurignacian period site in the Lone Valley of
Germany. The horse’s head at Hohle Fels came
from a level dated about 30,000 years old; the
other two are from an older occupation in the
cave, ca. 31-33,000 years ago.
Hohle Fels was discovered in the 1870s and first
excavated in the late 1950s, when undisturbed
Paleolithic sediments were found. Excavations
have been ongoing since the 1970s, led first by
Joachim Hahn and beginning in the 1990s by
Nicholas Conard. (via
Hohle Fels (Germany).
These items, especially
the two Löwenmensch seemed ‘polished from heavy
handling, suggesting that rather than sitting on a
shelf as an artifact to be admired’.
(Image courtesy - historyofinformation.com).
Click for larger image.
The importance of
being the Löwenmensch
These ivory artifacts are vital to the European
historical narrative being developed over the last
20 years – based on these finds.
Dr.Conard in another paper claims, ‘The ivory
figurines from Swabia represent one of the earliest
artistic traditions worldwide”. A related academic
paper on this period
goes on to say,
Indeed, how can we not see, in the numerous and
varied ornaments, sculpted stone blocks, ivory
statuettes or bone, antler and ivory spear
points, evidence of a significant and abrupt
mutation in the long history of human
Figurines apart, there are the odd musical
instruments, which too are of ivory. Musical
instruments made and used more than 30,000 years ago
– in what is called as the Aurignacian period.
These incredible finds must have a credible theory
In the fifth century, Champasak was thought to be the centre of the
Laotian universe. Today it’s a drowsy one-car village clutching the
western bank of the Mekong River in southern Laos and home to the
tiny Hindu-built Vat Phou, which some archaeologists believe may
have been the first Angkor temple ever built.
At a glance, Vat Phou doesn’t seem like the kind of structure that
would initiate an empire. A tiny prayer hall at the top of a
precarious stone stairway, with two reception halls on the plains
below, Vat Phou lacks the jaw-dropping awesomeness of temples in
Cambodia’s Angkor Archaeological Park. But as with the Angkor
temples, its symbolism is extraordinary.
Tucked under the phallic-shaped mountain peak of Phu Kao – thought
to represent Mount Meru, the sacred mountain at the centre of the
Hindu cosmology – Vat Phou was worshipped as the embodiment of
Shiva. The spring nearby was associated with Shiva’s wife, the
goddess Parvati. Water runs underground from Phu Kao’s peak, rising
through Parvati. From here, passing a series of barays (man-made
dams) and linga (phallic statues), water flows into the Mekong,
blessing everything on its journey south.
UNDER THREAT: The ruins of Vat Phou in southern Laos hold secrets
that are being destroyed by development.
In the fifth century, Champasak was thought to be the centre of the
Laotian universe. Today it's a drowsy one-car village clutching the
western bank of the Mekong River in southern Laos and home to the
tiny Hindu-built Vat Phou, which some archaeologists believe may
have been the first Angkor temple ever built.
At a glance, Vat Phou doesn't seem like the kind of structure that
would initiate an empire. A tiny prayer hall at the top of a
precarious stone stairway, with two reception halls on the plains
below, Vat Phou lacks the jaw-dropping awesomeness of temples in
Cambodia's Angkor Archaeological Park. But as with the Angkor
temples, its symbolism is extraordinary.
Tucked under the phallic-shaped mountain peak of Phu Kao - thought
to represent Mount Meru, the sacred mountain at the centre of the
Hindu cosmology - Vat Phou was worshipped as the embodiment of
Shiva. The spring nearby was associated with Shiva's wife, the
goddess Parvati. Water runs underground from Phu Kao's peak, rising
through Parvati. From here, passing a series of barays (man-made
dams) and linga (phallic statues), water flows into the Mekong,
blessing everything on its journey south.
I learn this while poring over a satellite map with Daniel
Davenport, an articulate but debated Australian archaeologist
working in Champasak and author of the Vat Phou Guide: Following in
the Footsteps of Angkor's Pilgrims, a tourist compendium on the area
that Davenport is self publishing.
"Vat Phou could quite well have been the first, the pre-eminent,
Angkor temple," he says, explaining that early worshippers took a
piece of Vat Phou stone and placed it under every subsequent temple
On the map, Davenport points out a well-defined line leading from
one of the reception halls at Vat Phou to the temple of Angkor Wat.
"This used to be a pilgrims' road during the Khmer Empire," he says,
referring to the kingdom that reigned over much of south-east Asia
between the ninth and thirteenth centuries and used the Angkor
Archaelogical Park as the capital. "They had roadhouses every six
miles (nine kilometres) with accommodation, food, shelter for the
animals and hospitals; six miles being the average distance a
bullock cart could travel in a day."
However, archaeologists at Vat Phou know a lot less than they would
like to. "We have excavated about 5 per cent of the area," says
Laurent Delfour, a French architect who has been working with UNESCO
to manage the site for the past three-and-a-half years. "That
translates as 5 per cent knowledge on the area. We believe that Vat
Phou marked the beginning of the Angkor Empire but nothing is
What is certain is the race against time Champasak's hidden
treasures face. A new highway linking the town with the regional
capital of Pakse and the Thai border post of Chong Mek, has already
disturbed six ancient temples beneath the ground. Champasak was
designated a World Heritage zone in 2001; building without
assessments, and approval, is not permitted.
"The Laos Ministry of Information and Culture did a little research
into the area where the road was going," says a long-term Champasak
resident who requested anonymity. "But the findings were just pushed
aside and work on the road accelerated."
The local government is hoping the road, which will extend to the
Cambodian border, will bring in busloads of tourists. Full story
24. First Astro
Observatory of Harappan Civilization
Found in Kutch
Feb. 7, 2012
Mumbai : A group of
scientists has identified two circular
structures at Dholavira in Kutch
district of Gujarat, which they say is
the first identification of a structure
used for observational astronomy during
the Harappan Civilisation. The discovery
by M N Vahia from the Tata Institute of
Fundamental Research (TIFR) and Srikumar
Menon from Manipal School of
Architecture and Planning (Karnataka) is
crucial, say scientists, as it is the
first direct indication of intellectual
capacity of people in the context of the
civilisation and their relation to
astronomy.“It is highly implausible that
such an intellectually advanced
civilisation did not have any knowledge
of positional astronomy. These
(structures) would have been useful for
calendrical (including time of the day,
time of the night, seasons, years and
possibly even longer periods) and
navigational purposes apart from
providing intellectual challenge to
understanding the movement of the
heavens,” said the paper titled ‘A
possible astronomical observatory at
Dholavira’ to be published in the
forthcoming edition of Man and
Vahia said Dholavira, assumed to be an
island at that time, is almost exactly
on the Tropic of Cancer and was an
important centre of trade. “Hence,
keeping track of time would be crucial
to the city. So far, there had been no
positive identification of any
astronomy-related structure in any of
the 1,500-odd sites of the Harappan
Civilisation known today. The two
structures identified by us seem to have
celestial orientations inbuilt into
their design. So, we have concluded that
the two rooms in the structure were
meant for observations of the sun,” he
said the discovery will enable
scientists to measure the intellectual
growth of people of the Harappan
Civilisation. It could give valuable
insights on how the mentalities of the
civilisation developed, in what ways
they used the astronomical data to
conduct business, farming and other
scientists simulated, what is now left
of the two rooms, for response to solar
observations and have concluded that
important days of the solar calendar
could easily be identified by analysing
the image inside the room.
simulations were conducted for summer
and winter solstice. The study says the
narrow beam of light from the entrances
would also enhance the perception of the
movement of the sun over a year.
interplay of image and its surrounding
structures seem to suggest that the
structure is consistent with it being a
solar observatory to mark time. The
west-facing circle has two flanking
walls outside the exit, whose shadow
touches the entrance on winter and
summer solstice. The two square
well-like structures at the southern end
would provide an excellent location to
observe zenith transiting stars even in
the presence of city lights,” says the
Patna : The Archaelogical Survey of
India (ASI) is set to begin
excavation of a newly-found ancient
stupa that was badly damaged and has
been lying neglected for centuries
in Bihar’s Begusarai district, an
official said Saturday.
The Patna circle of the ASI has
identified the location of the stupa
at Harsai near Garhpura village.
Archeaologists here believe that it
could be one of the eight original
stupas built to house the relics of
“Going by the physical appearance of
the stupa and the use of mud lumps
denotes that it could be one of the
eight original stupas housing the
Buddha’s corporeal relics. But that
can be determined only after
excavation,” the superintending
archaeologist of ASI (Patna circle)
S K Manjul said.
According to ancient scriptures,
after the Buddha was cremated, there
was a disagreement over the division
of his remains. They were then
divided into eight parts and
distributed among the eight powerful
kingdoms and republics, which laid
claim over them. All of them buried
their share of relics in stupas
specially built to serve as markers
of the physical presence of the
Buddha and his teachings.
Till date archaeologists have
identified six of them. “If this
stupa turned to be seventh, it can
be the ASI’s biggest discovery,” he
Manjul said the ASI plans to start
the excavation in the next few
months this year. “The ASI’s central
advisory board of archaeology has
already granted an excavation
license to an archeaologist of ASI’s
Patna circle to undertake the work,”
According to ASI officials here, the
stupa may also turn out to be the
only one, which emperor Ashoka could
not open to take out the relics for
distribution over the Indian
This stupa is made of sun-dried clay
lumps and fixed with mud mortars and
later strengthened with layers of
gravel and burnt bricks. It is
currently in a bad shape. The stupa
is threatened by local resident, who
are minning it for clay.
“Some local people have damaged a
part of it to extend the agriculture
fields.The stupa is lying neglected
as it is unprotected till date,” he
It consist of four stupas
having the largest in the
centre and there equidistant
smaller in three directions,
one each in the west, north
and south. The completely
clay built stupa use to have
a hard outer most surface
built by bricks-dust etc. (surkhi)This
Bajralepit’ stupa consists
of a three strate
has reference of such stupas.
The finding of such
remarkable stupa is
significant for the history
of the region. It must be
seen in the contexet of
Buddha’s visit to Anguttarap
as referred in the “Majjhim
26. Ancient Idol of Lord Vishnu
found during excavation in an
old village in Russia’s Volga
An ancient Vishnu idol
excavation in an old
village in Russia’s
Volga region, raising
questions about the
prevalent view on the
origin of ancient
Russia. The idol found
in Staraya (old) Maina
village dates back to
VII-X century AD.
Staraya Maina village in
Ulyanovsk region was a
highly populated city
1700 years ago, much
older than Kiev, so far
believed to be the
mother of all Russian
“We may consider it
incredible, but we have
ground to assert that
Middle-Volga region was
the original land of
Ancient Rus. This is a
hypothesis, but a
research,” Reader of
department Dr Alexander
Kozhevin told state-run
television Vesti .
Dr Kozhevin, who has
excavation in Staraya
Maina for last seven
years, said that every
square metre of
the surroundings of the
ancient town situated on
banks of Samara, a
tributary of Volga, is
studded with antiques.
Prior to unearthing
of the Vishnu idol, Dr
Kozhevin has already
found ancient coins,
pendants, rings and
fragments of weapons.
He believes that
today’s Staraya Maina, a
town of eight thousand,
was ten times more
populated in the ancient
times. It is from here
that people started
moving to the Don and
Dneiper rivers around
the time ancient Russy
built the city of
Kiev, now the capital of
is being organised later
this year to study the
legacy of the ancient
village, which can
radically change the
history of ancient
Some Conclusions by
The discovery of an
ancient Vishnu idol in
an excavation in Russia
only confirms certain
ideas I have always had
about the Vedic ancient
and glorious land and
The report says that
the area in which the
idol was found is
called Staraya Maina.
In the Rig Veda, there
is a passage that goes,
Itham ascati pasyat
syantham, ekam starayath
translates into Staraya
Maina is the name of the
land of the 45 rivers
(on whose banks the
noble Rishis conducted
the famous Horse
Sacrifices), where the
sun god descends into
one fifty two forty
seven. While the first
line identifies a
location, the second
line talks about the
latitude and longitude
at which the solar
interference lines at
one, fifty two, and
The extreme precision of
the calculations show
the advanced science of
the Vedic period, and
also a thorough
knowledge of SI units
(it has been
conclusively proven that
French scientists stole
the system from the
The discovery of the
idol confirms the
Russia, identified in
the Rig Veda as rus
(the ancient and holy
land of the 722 flying
between the Russians and
the Indians has been
In Russian orthodox
Christianity, worship is
conducted very much like
in Vishnu temples. The
Russians refer to the
feast of Vizhnyir
with Vaikhunda Ekhadasi.
also owes a lot to
Sanskrit, whose origins
50,000 years ago roughly
correspond with the
language of the people
of the Smritzyi
along the banks of the
It is common
knowledge in the
that the Parashurama
Sutra, the basis of all
government policy in the
erstwhile Kerala kingdom
contains the lines
kalanam brighahaha. The
links between the
ancient Russians and
Indians almost certainly
aided by the 60,00 odd
scholars of the
in the 17th Century BCE,
is said to have
ideas through the land
of the Vanga (Ru.
Vangnya) in modern-day
The Vishnu idol is
depicted with a hammer
in one left hand while
the deconglated seventh
arm on the
right side holds a
reticulated sickle. This
hammer and sickle
imagery is also found in
the Parashurama Sutra,
conclusively placing the
origin of great and
political ideology in
Upanishad also mentions
Kaamyunishcham in its
list of land sacrifices,
where under the
directions of the King,
all the land in the
country was donated to
the performance of
tickled horny silk-rats
until they collapsed in
The text also clearly
identifies a group of
scholars referred to as
the Paalita Buryam, who
oversaw the functioning
of the King.
For years, western
sought to undermine the
contributions to what
came to be 19th and 20th
Century world politics.
also attributed the
ideology of Communism to
the work done by
Karl Marx, one of
their own. It has been
well documented that
Marx indeed visited
Kerala and West Bengal,
and had thorough
understanding of the
Parashurama Sutra, a
copy of which he picked
up in the old-book-stall
near the Cochin airport.
Later on, as part of the
Marx took all the credit
In 1952 in Soviet
Varely Smirzkoff of
artefacts near the
ancient Belarussian town
of Kozhikodz. He was the
first to speculate that
the ruling political
ideology of his country
could well have had its
origins in Vedic India
rather than Modern
Europe. Stalin funded
until Smirrzkoff was
suddenly found to have
stolen over 500,000
paper clips from work
over the course of his
tenure at Odessa
University. He was sent
to Siberia, and with him
went almost all academic
proof that would have
certainly brought Russia
and India closer
This recent discovery
should resurrect the
pioneering work started
by Prof. Varely
Smirzkoff, who died of
of the nose, in 1964.
Nivedita Khandekar , Hindustan Times
New Delhi, November 04, 2012
The beginning of India’s history has been pushed back by more than
2,000 years, making it older than that of Egypt and Babylon. Latest
research has put the date of the origin of the Indus Valley
Civilisation at 6,000 years before Christ, which contests the
current theory that the settlements around the Indus began around
Ever since the excavations at Harappa and Mohenjo-daro in the early
1920s, the civilisation was considered almost as old as those of
Egypt and Mesopotamia.
The finding was announced at the “International Conference on
Harappan Archaeology”, recently organised by the Archaeological
Survey of India (ASI) in Chandigarh.
Based on their research, BR Mani, ASI joint director general, and KN
Dikshit, former ASI joint director general, said in a presentation:
“The preliminary results of the data from early sites of the
Indo-Pak subcontinent suggest that the Indian civilisation emerged
in the 8th millennium BC in the Ghaggar-Hakra and Baluchistan area.”
“On the basis of radio-metric dates from Bhirrana (Haryana), the
cultural remains of the pre-early Harappan horizon go back to 7380
BC to 6201 BC.”
Excavations had been carried out at two sites in Pakistan and
Bhirrana, Kunal, Rakhigarhi and Baror in India.
28. Human Skull with World’s Oldest
Successful Brain Surgery discovered in India
May 14, 2013
Scientists have discovered the
world’s oldest known case of a successful human brain
surgery after unearthing a 4300 year old skull from the site
of the ancient Harappan Civilization site in India. This
discovery was done by the scientists from the Archaeological
Survey of India (ASI) who found evidence pointing this to be
the oldest known case of Trephination in the world meant to
treat a skull injury.
Trephination is the process of
drilling holes in the damaged skull to remove shattered bits
of bone from a fractured skull and clean out the blood that
often pools under the skull after a blow to the head.
year old Skull which underwent brain surgery. Image
Courtesy: Current Science
Around 40 years ago similar skull evidences discovered in
nearby locations had indicated towards trephination being
performed during the times of the ancient Indian
Civilization. However, the current discovery gives a
concrete proof about this being a case of a successful brain
surgery. The damages to the skull which looks like was
caused by a strong blow on the head, and the areas of the
surgical incursions performed with healing skull structures
clearly show that the person survived the surgery for a
considerable time after the brain operation.
Much older Trephination cases have been found across the
world. However, this one clearly points towards a case where
the person who underwent the surgery had survived the
drilling of his skull.
29. Mahendraparvata, 1,200-Year-Old Lost
Medieval City In Cambodia, Unearthed By Archaeologists
June 15, 2013
A lost medieval city that thrived on a mist-shrouded
Cambodian mountain 1,200 years ago has been discovered by
archaeologists using revolutionary airborne laser
technology, a report said.
In what it
called a world exclusive, the Sydney Morning Herald said
the city, Mahendraparvata, included temples hidden by
jungle for centuries, many of which have not been
A journalist and photographer from the newspaper
accompanied the "Indiana Jones-style" expedition, led by
a French-born archaeologist, through landmine-strewn
jungle in the Siem Reap region where Angkor Wat, the
largest Hindi temple complex in the world, is located.
The expedition used an instrument called Lidar -- light
detection and ranging data -- which was strapped to a
helicopter that criss-crossed a mountain north of Angkor
Wat for seven days, providing data that matched years of
ground research by archaeologists.
It effectively peeled away the jungle canopy using
billions of laser pulses, allowing archaeologists to see
structures that were in perfect squares, completing a
map of the city which years of painstaking ground
research had been unable to achieve, the report said.
It helped reveal the city that reportedly founded the
Angkor Empire in 802 AD, uncovering more than two dozen
previously unrecorded temples and evidence of ancient
canals, dykes and roads using satellite navigation
coordinates gathered from the instrument's data.
Jean-Baptiste Chevance, director of the Archaeology and
Development Foundation in London who led the expedition,
told the newspaper it was known from ancient scriptures
that a great warrior, Jayavarman II, had a mountain
capital, "but we didn't know how all the dots fitted,
exactly how it all came together".
"We now know from the new data the city was for sure
connected by roads, canals and dykes," he said.
The discovery is set to be published in the Proceedings
of the National Academy of Sciences in the United
Damian Evans, director of the University of Sydney's
archaeological research centre in Cambodia, which played
a key part in developing the Lidar technology, said
there might be important implications for today's
"We see from the imagery that the landscape was
completely devoid of vegetation," Evans, a co-expedition
"One theory we are looking at is that the severe
environmental impact of deforestation and the dependence
on water management led to the demise of the
civilisation ... perhaps it became too successful to the
point of becoming unmanageable."
The Herald said the trek to the ruins involved
traversing rutted goat tracks and knee-deep bogs after
travelling high into the mountains on motorbikes.
Everyone involved was sworn to secrecy until the
findings were peer-reviewed.
Evans said it was not known how large Mahendraparvata
was because the search had so far only covered a limited
area, with more funds needed to broaden it out.
"Maybe what we see was not the central part of the city,
so there is a lot of work to be done to discover the
extent of this civilisation," he said.
"We need to preserve the area because it's the origin of
our culture," secretary of state at Cambodia's Ministry
of Culture, Chuch Phoeun, told AFP.
Angkor Wat was at one time the largest pre-industrial
city in the world, and is considered one of the ancient
wonders of the world.
It was constructed from the early to mid 1100s by King
Suryavarman II at the height of the Khmer Empire's
political and military power.
30. Petroglyph in India May Be Oldest Known Sky
Chart and Supernova Depiction
investigators from India claim their in-depth research of historical
night sky charts backs a theory that ancient rock art that depicts
an astronomical event. Experts suggest the find may be the oldest
star chart ever discovered, as well as the very first portrayal of a
Mysterious Rock Art Puzzles Scientists
International Business Times reports , the peculiar rock art
dates back to between 2100 and 4100 BC and was found at the Burzahom
Neolithic site in the Kashmir region of Asia in Northern India.
According to the archaeologists, it portrays a sky with two glaring
objects in it and figures of humans and animals below. At first
sight, both the animals and humans appeared to be part of a hunting
scene, but after detailed examination, scientists have concluded
that the figures depict star patterns and the two bright objects are
a sun or moon and a supernova.
Left, photograph of the petroglyphs. Right, a
sketch of it. (Image: IGNCA)
“We reinterpret the picture with emphasis on the two
extremely bright celestial bodies shown in the picture. There is
clear indication that the two celestial objects drawn are very
bright. One of the objects is either the Sun or bright Moon and
second object is relatively close to the first. They cannot be
Sun and Moon since, with such proximity to the Sun, the Moon
would be in a partial phase around the new and hence not very
bright. We investigate the possibility that the observed object
is not a star pair as even in other prehistoric drawings from
European caves, stars are never shown as large disks,”
scientists theorize in a paper that was published in the
December issue of the
Indian Journal of History of Science .
31. Prehistoric art hints at lost Indian
The discovery of rock carvings
believed to be tens of thousands of years old in India's western
state of Maharashtra has greatly excited archaeologists who believe
they hold clues to a previously unknown civilisation, BBC Marathi's
Mayuresh Konnur reports.
The rock carvings - known as petroglyphs - have been discovered
in their thousands atop hillocks in the Konkan region of western
Mostly discovered in the Ratnagiri and Rajapur areas, a majority
of the images etched on the rocky, flat hilltops remained unnoticed
for thousands of years.
Most of them were hidden beneath layers of soil and mud. But a
few were in the open - these were considered holy and worshipped by
locals in some areas.
The sheer variety of the rock carvings have stunned experts -
animals, birds, human figures and geometrical designs are all
The way the petroglyphs have been drawn, and their
similarity to those found in other parts of the world, have led
experts to believe that they were created in prehistoric times and
are possibly among the oldest ever discovered.