More Archeological Finds From 2006 & 2007

 

1. Astronomy in the Rainforest of Brazil

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL, June 27, 2006: Anthropologists are sitting up and taking notice of a recent find in Brazil. Called the "Tropical Stonehenge," an astronomical observatory estimated at 2,000 years old has been discovered on an Amazon hilltop. The news report explains, "A grouping of granite blocks along a grassy Amazon hilltop may be the vestiges of a centuries-old astronomical observatory -- a find archaeologists say indicates early rainforest inhabitants were more sophisticated than previously believed. The 127 blocks, some as high as 9 feet tall, are spaced at regular intervals around the hill, like a crown 100 feet in diameter. On the shortest day of the year -- Dec. 21 -- the shadow of one of the blocks, which is set at an angle, disappears." Mariana Petry Cabral, an archaeologist at the Amapa State Scientific and Technical Research Institute, says, "It is this block's alignment with the winter solstice that leads us to believe the site was once an astronomical observatory. We may be also looking at the remnants of a sophisticated culture. Transforming this kind of knowledge into a monument; the transformation of something ephemeral into something concrete, could indicate the existence of a larger population and of a more complex social organization." Richard Callaghan, a professor of geography, anthropology and archaeology at the University of Calgary, adds, "Given that astronomical objects, stars, constellations etc., have a major importance in much of Amazonian mythology and cosmology, it does not in any way surprise me that such an observatory exists." Carbon dating of the site near the village of Calcoene, north of the equator in northern Brazil by Brazilian archaeologists in August after the rainy season, will establish a more accurate timeline.

www.nytimes.com

 

2. First Harappan Burial site Found in Sinauli, Uttar Pradesh


        SINAULI, June 28, 2006: Imagine for a moment that you're a farmer, leveling your field, when suddenly your plough hits something hard. You wipe away the dust and discover it's a bone, hardened over time. You dig some more and discover the remnants of pottery next to an ancient human skeleton.
        This is what happened to Sattar Ali while working in the sugarcane fields in Sinauli village near Baghpat in western UP, some 75 km from Delhi. Although he didn't know it at that time, Ali had chanced upon an ancient burial ground of the late Harappan period, believed to be more than 4,000 years old.
        This was over a year-and-a-half back. Matters would have rested there had not a local youth, Tahir Hussain, informed the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) about it. Since August last year, ASI's excavations have been going on in full swing. Dharamvir Sharma, superintending archaeologist, ASI, says, "The findings here are very important and have the potential to change the way we look at the history of Asia."
        Sinauli's find is unique because this is the first Harappan burial site to be found in UP. More importantly, it's the first Harappan site where two antenna swords were found buried next to the skeletons. These were of the copper hoard culture, which has been a cause of debate among historians. These findings might just prove that the copper hoard was associated with the late Harappans, says Sharma.
        The excavations have already yielded a rich haul. Almost 126 skeletons have been recovered, which indicates that the mound was a fairly large habitation. While some are broken, others are remarkably well-preserved. One of the first skeletons to be discovered was found wearing copper bracelets on both hands. Some distance away, another was found buried along with an animal, presumably intended to be a sacrificial offering.
        Other finds include bead necklaces, copper spearheads, gold ornaments and a few anthropomorphic figures which were typical of Harappan settlements. While these are all relative evidence of the late Harappan period, believed to be around 2000 BC, carbon dating of the skeletons would put a firm date on it.
        Sinauli's findings might also prove that the Harappans were a part of the Vedic culture and followed prescribed Vedic practices. Sharma says, "All the skeletons have been found lying in the North-South direction, as prescribed by the Rig Veda. Near their heads have been found pots, which probably contained grains, ghee, curd and somarasa as an offering to Yama, the God of Death. This was in accordance with ancient Vedic burial practices, mentioned in the Shatpath Brahman."
        However, not all historians agree with this view. They feel it's too early to jump to conclusions without carbon dating being done. Nevertheless, the excavations have attracted a lot of attention for the nondescript village. The villagers are thrilled at their newfound status.
        Any child will happily escort you to ASI tents set up in the middle of sugarcane fields, near the village. According to Hari Om Saran, assistant archaeologist, ASI, "At least 100-150 people visit the site every day. The number was higher during winter. The recent discovery of gold bracelets drew even more visitors."
        Now, the UP Tourism department is in talks with ASI to link Sinauli with the Mahabharat circuit that it's proposing to launch. Kawkab Hameed, state tourism minister, says, "The findings at Sinauli indicate it was an ancient site. Therefore we propose to include it in our new tourist circuit, which would cover places associated with the Mahabharat era. These would include Panipat, Sonepat, Hastinapur as well as Baghpat, which has three tunnels associated with the Mahabharat era."
        Most historians concur that Sinauli may provide clues to other mysteries of the ancient Indus Valley civilization and probably turn more theories about the Harappans on their head. However, that's still some way off. For one, only a portion of the burial mound has been excavated. Sharma believes the entire mound would have been spread over nine acres and there are more burials waiting to be found nearby.
        Moreover, considering that this was such a huge burial ground, the settlement should also have been a large one. However, that is still to be located. Also, before ASI moved in, the villagers plundered quite a few objects from the site. Vital clues to the settlement could have been lost. ASI is proposing to acquire the site land and plans to set up a museum here. Meanwhile, as excavations continue, this will be an attractive destination not only for the serious student of history, but also for tourists, who can relive history through the skeletons of Sinauli.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1696409.cms
 


3. Undersea Temple Found Off India's East Coast

VISAKHAPATNAM, ANDHRA PRADESH INDIA, July 3, 2006: Archaeologists in Visakhapatnam claim that a centuries-old temple exists two kilometers from Visakhapatnam coast, on the sea bed. While the eastern coastal city of Visakhapatnam is steeped in history, few know that there was a temple called "Visakeswara Temple" off the coast of the city. Many centuries ago this temple went under the sea due to geological adjustments. According to Professor Gangadharam, who is working on facts regarding this temple, the temple existed centuries ago, but got submerged in the sea. "From the research I did, I found out that the Buchca Rama Lingeshwara temple which right now exists on the coastline is in the same alignment with that of Visakeswara temple under the sea. I have spoken to many old people and fishermen who told me that their forefathers used to confirm that there is this temple under the sea. " According to the priest of Buchcha Rama Lingeshwara temple, the Visakeswara temple existed before Kalyug. "Yes, in Shastras and Puranas there's a mention of this temple. It is believed that before the Kalyug began this temple was submerged into the sea." Professor Gangadharam's further research, which involves under sea exploration, is on hold as he is looking for financial support in his quest to find the temple.
www.zeenews.com

 

4. Ancient Vishnu Deity Found in Russia

December, 2006

MOSCOW: An ancient Vishnu idol has been found during 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 cities.
        "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 hypothesis, which requires thorough research," Reader of Ulyanovsk State University's archaeology department Dr Alexander Kozhevin told state-run television Vesti .
        Dr Kozhevin, who has been conducting excavation in Staraya Maina for last seven years, said that every single square metre of the surroundings of the ancient town situated on the 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 Ukraine.
        An international conference is being organized later this year to study the legacy of the ancient village, which can radically change the history of ancient Russia.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Ancient_Vishnu_idol_found_in_Russia/articleshow/1046928.cms

 

 

5. Harappan period cemetery unearthed in UP
New Delhi, January 4, 2007
        The largest Harappan Necropolis (city of the dead or burial ground) the Indian subcontinent has known so far has been found near village Sanauli on the banks of Yamuna in Baghpat, Uttar Pradesh.
        These findings have been reported in the latest issue (No 36) of Puratattva, the journal of the Indian Archaeological Society.
        Chairman of the Society Dr SP Gupta said, "Never before a site like Sanauli was found and excavated in India. An absolutely plain ground with thick deposit of sand and silt harbouring lush green cultivated field of the best variety of sugarcane could never attract any archaeologist to explore it, but then it has yielded the remains of as many as 116 graves in a huge cemetery, which if further excavated will certainly yield many more of it."
        "One of the most significant findings has been the discovery of a burial with an antenna sword and a sheath which represents the Ganga valley civilization of the third and second millennia BC, which shows the meeting place of the Harappans and the Ganga civilisation, an evidence for which was never found earlier".
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        The cemetery seems to have been in use for several centuries as burials have been found laid in as many as three superimposed levels of the ancient course of river Yamuna basin.
        The tentative time bracket has been given from 2200 BC – 1800 BC, which puts it in the Harappan period.
        It was the chance discovery of some pottery vessels and a human skeletal remain from an agricultural field at Sanauli, district Baghpat, Uttar Pradesh, which prompted the group, led by Dr DV Sharma (chief excavater) Superintending Archaeologist, Excavation Branch, Purana Qila Archaeological Survey of India, assisted by KC Nauriyal and VN Prabhakar, to start excavations in August 2005, which continued till August 2006.
        All the graves were found laid in northwest–southeast orientation as a rule with head placed in the north and legs towards the south direction.
        A majority of these burials are with skeletal remains of the dead largely intact. About 29 graves were perhaps used symbolically as they did not have human bones but had grave goods. Evidence of animal sacrifice in some middle and upper levels burials have been noticed.
        Placing of a dish on a stand below the hip or head of the dead seems to have been a general but prominent feature of some ritual which was in practice as a rule in most of the graves in Sanauli.
        The dish seems to have served as "offering stand" and is found supporting a dead body or food grains or meat. In one case, the head of a goat was found placed on the dish.
        Sanauli graves not only show a 'double burial' of two males aged between 30-35, but the rare event of a triple burial indicative of three closely related persons dying in some unusual circumstances. The grave has also two urn burials which are jars with bull figures on the lids.
        Interestingly, the burials have been found with objects like a violin-shaped copper container, copper in the shape of a human torso, a number of tiny copper objects with arrowheads, a star-shaped gold object kept on a forehead, glass beads, steatite beads etc, used for ornaments.
        Evidences of six child burials were also found, one of them wearing an agate bead amulet on its left arm and an agate necklace. A female skeleton, aged 18 years, has been found with an ornament of gold and semi-precious stones and a pair of heart shaped gold bangles in both hands.
        A trough like object of clay completely burnt and turned red with good amount of ash, charred human bones and animal jaws with mud lumps and brickbats has been found, which could have been used for cremating the dead.
        http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/181_1888352,000900010004.htm

 

6.  New Harappan site discovered in Rohtak district  

    Chandigarh, March. 2 (PTI): A Harappan site with painted grey ware artifacts has been discovered near a village in Rohtak district in Haryana.   The site with painted grey ware remains dating back to the Mahabharata period has been discovered at village Girawad on the Madina-Samargopalpur road, in Rohtak district, Haryana Minister of State for Archives, Archaeology and Museums Meena Mandal said here today.  
    She said the site was found on February 19, this year by a research scholar Vivek Dangi, under a team led by deputy director J S Khatri. The team proceeded from Meham towards Madina and discovered the site at village Girawad.   Mandal said the site was spread over an area of 25 acres and rose about 1.5 metres in height from the ground.   "Material culture available from the site indicates that the economy of Girawad was based on agriculture. Boundary wall, early Harappan pottery, furnaces and other antiquities found during surface explorations are sufficient evidence to prove its antiquity to that of early Harappan times," she said.  
    Mandal said that as many as 45 early-Harappan and Harappan sites had so far been discovered on the ancient river bed of Drishadvati and its tributaries in Meham Block itself.   "It means that this area was thickly inhabited during Harappan times. The discovery of large number of Harappan and painted grey ware sites in the Satluj-Yamuna divide would help the archaeologist in providing evidences to complete the missing links of the Indian history," she said.  
    Mandal said a vast stretch of present day Haryana where the now dried Saraswati river flowed presented remnants of Harappan civilisation.
 
http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/004200703021819.htm
 

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7.   2nd Century BC Buddhist Art Cave Discovered
Sudeshna Sarkar
[3 May, 2007 l 0034 hrs ISTlTIMES NEWS NETWORK]

SMS NEWS
KATHMANDU: As the world celebrated the 2,551st birth anniversary of the Buddha on Wednesday, Nepal – his birthplace – had an additional reason to rejoice: The discovery of an ancient cave, an older Ajanta with exquisite wall paintings, in its northernmost tip jutting into Tibet.
        A team of scholars and climbers stumbled upon the treasure trove last month during a search for historic caves said to be abounding in the virtually
uninhabited tract of frozen land, preserved by the icy temperatures and untouched for millennia.
        Funded by adventure gear maker North Face and a US-based production house, the expedition discovered a partly collapsed enclave containing a mural of 55 panels depicting the life of the Buddha.
        The paintings are highly evocative of Ajanta, says art conservator Luigi Fieni, referring to the first known Buddhist cave art dating to 1st and 2nd
centuries BC.
        Fieni has been camping in Mustang, the remote mountainous district that was once a rich and powerful Tibetan kingdom, dominating the trans-Himalayan trade between India and Tibet.
        The art, he says, is executed in a style not seen in Mustang.

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8. Wooden Structure Found at Dvaraka

Express News Service -- http://www.expressindia.com/about/feedback.html

May 5, 2007

Rajkot, May 4: Archaeologists are excited about a circular wooden structure found underwater at a near-shore excavation site off the coast of
Jamnagar. Thought to be the remains of the lost city of ancient Dwarka, the wooden structure is well preserved and surrounded by another structure made of stone blocks.
        "It is significant as scientific dating of wood, which is carbon, is possible. This was not the case with evidences like stone, beads, glass and
terracota found earlier," said Alok Tripathi, Superintending Archeologist, Underwater Archeology Wing of Archaeological Survey of India.
        The dating of submerged ruins off the coast of Dwarka has been matter of debate for since long. Archaeologists and historians have been at loggerhead about the period when these structures were built and have claimed various dates about the origin and decay of one of the most scared places in India.  Answers to questions like when did Lord Krishna set up his kingdom in Dwarka? When did the "Golden City" submerge in the sea? — were based on the interpretations of these scholars and no material evidence had so far been found so that these structures could be scientifically dated.
        "Though excavation at Dwarka has been carried out a number of times, this is for the first time a wooden block has been found, and this is going to help us almost pin-point a time frame and give some credible answers," said Tripathi.
        This piece was found during a near-shore excavation carried out in the southwest region of Samudranarayan Temple. The structure is made of stone and wood. The underwater archaeologist carried out diving in shallow water and studied the technique of joining these blocks in detail. The blocks were joined so well with the help of wooden dowels and nails that they remained in situ (in position) despite heavy surfs and strong current for a long period.
        "The collected samples will be sent to different laboratories. We expect the results to come as soon as possible," said Tripathi.
        According to ancient literature the ancient Dwarka city had submerged in the sea. The Underwater Archaeology Wing (UAW) of the Archaeological Survey of India undertook systematic study of Dwarka about two years back. After a thorough analysis of earlier research and extensive fieldwork, UAW started archaeological excavation at Dwarka from January 1, 2007 to know the antiquity of the site based on scientific study of the material evidence.

http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=234788#<http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=234788

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9.   Archeological find to determine exact age of ancient Dwarka
Sunday, June 03, 2007 11:04:00 AM
PTI

NEW DELHI:  The exact age of Dwarka, the ancient submerged city off Gujarat coast, can now finally be determined.
        In a major breakthrough, archaeologists have excavated from the ruins of Dwarka a wooden block that promises to solve the mystery about the exact age of the submerged city believed by many to belong to Lord Krishna.
        "Now that we have found wood, we are confident of dating the excavations. We will know exactly how old is this submerged city," Alok Tripathi,
Superintendent Archaeologist of the Underwater Archaeology Wing of the Archaeological Survey of India. Archaeologists will now use the carbon dating technique to determine the exact age of the ruins. The latest excavation at the site that began early this year concluded last week.
The earlier excavations, that first began about 40 years ago, had only revealed stones, beads, glass and terracotta pieces.
        "The operations resulted in retrieval of wooden block from a submerged circular structure. The blocks were joined so well with the help of wooden dowels and nails that they remained in site despite heavy surfs and strong currents for a long period," said Tripathi, who is also an expert diver.
        The samples of the excavation have been brought to the capital and shall soon be given for lab testing.
        Though there had been previous excavations, each cited different dates and were based on the interpretations of scholars as there was no material evidence to back those claims. The first excavation in Dwarka, carried out by the Deccan College Post-Graduate and Research Institute, Pune and the Department of Archaeology, Government of Gujarat in 1963, had revealed artifacts that were 2000 years old.
        Several other excavations followed, all revealing different artifacts and to different time periods.
        Two years ago, the Underwater Archaeology Wing (UAW) of the Archaeological Survey of India undertook the systematic study of Dwarka and after thorough analysis of previous researches, started excavation work in January with the clear objective "to know the antiquity of the site based on scientific study of the material evidence."
        The holistic nature of the excavations can be judged by the fact that for the first time "excavations were conducted simultaneously on land, near
famous Dwarkadhish temple, and also offshore so that finds from all the excavations can be analysed, correlated and studied scientifically," Tripathi said

http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?NewsID=1100788

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10. Buddha Paintings Found in Cave in Nepal

Luigi Fieni/Sky Door Productions, via AFP-Getty Images
Published: May 4, 2007
 

KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) -- Paintings of Buddha dating back at least to the 12th century have been discovered in a cave in Nepal's remote north-central region by a team of international researchers who were tipped by a local sheep herder.

        A mural with 55 panels depicting the story of Buddha's life was uncovered in March, with the team using ice axes to break through a snow path to reach the cave in Nepal's Mustang area, about 160 miles northwest of the capital, Katmandu.

        ''What we found is fantastically rich in culture and heritage and goes to the 12th century or earlier,'' Broughton Coburn, a writer and conservationist from Jackson Hole, Wyo., told The Associated Press on Friday.

        Coburn said the main mural measured around 25 feet wide, and each panel was about 14 inches by 17 inches.

        The team of Nepalese, Italian and American archeologists, art experts, and climbers, were tipped by a local sheep herder who mentioned that he had seen a cave with old paintings several years ago when he took shelter from the rain.

        ''I was overwhelmed with questions,'' Coburn said about the discovery.

        Besides the main mural, paintings were discovered on other walls of the cave which they believe were made slightly later. A nearby cave had manuscripts which were written in Tibetan language, which were photographed by the team and will be translated by experts.

        Coburn said the team planned to perform limited excavation, collection and cataloging of the manuscripts.

        The five Americans in the team included renowned mountaineer Peter Athans who has scaled Mount Everest seven times and film maker Renan Ozturk. Other members included Italian art expert Luigi Fieni and two Nepalese archaeologists.

        ''I can unequivocally say that climbing into the caves was greatly more exciting than any emotions I had on Everest,'' Athans said in e-mail sent from Seattle, Wash. ''The opportunity to explore new ground with potentially significant discoveries imminent was far more enticing than the Everest summit.''

        The team has refused to reveal the exact location of the caves, fearing visitors could disturb the centuries-old art.

        The expedition spent three weeks in the remote mountainous area, where there are few people due to the extreme weather and barren land.

        ''We learnt how much we don't know, how much there is to discover, explore and understand,'' Coburn said, adding they plan to return to the cave next spring to conduct more research. The area has for centuries been used as a major passageway between Nepal and Tibet.

 

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11. 18 ancient clay seals found at Bhasu Bihar

Hasibur Rahman Bilu, Bogra

        An ancient brick-built structure at a dig at Bhasu Bihar of Shibganj upazila in Bogra. Archaeologists also discovered clay seals, inset left, dating back to the Pala dynasty and one "Dharmachakra" message seal of Gautam Buddha. Photo: Hasibur Rahman Bilu*
        Archaeologists have discovered 18 ancient clay seals, mostly from the Pala dynasty, and two brick-built structures at Bhasu Bihar archaeological site
in Shibganj upazila of Bogra during an excavation.
        One of the clay seals bears the first "Dharmachakra" message of Gautam Buddha inscribed on it, said Nahid Sultana, custodian and a member of the
excavation team.
    A seven-member team of the Archaeology Department headed by Regional Director Abdul Khaleque started the excavation work on 22 November.
Nahid Sultana said most of the 18 seals are 1,000 years old.
    A few small pieces of bronze and two ancient brick structures were also found in separate excavations in the site.
    Nahid said the department could not yet determine the age of the two brick structures but one of them is "very old".
    The width of the brick built walls is similar to that of the main structures of the monastic cells and temple at Bhasu Bihar, she added.
    Bhasu Bihar is an important archaeological site in South Asia. According to documents, Chinese pilgrim Hiuel T-sang saw more than 700 monks at the Bihar when he visited the place during 639-645AD.

http://www.thedailystar.net/story.php?nid=14663

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