Burnt remnants of ancient city found from era of the Mahabharata
In May last year, archaeologists in India unearthed evidence of a 2,500-year-old planned city in Tarighat, Chhattisgarh, complete with water reservoirs, roads, seals and coins, buried 20ft below the ground, in a discovery billed as India’s biggest archaeological find in recent memory. Now at the same site, researchers have found remnants of a “gutted settlement” which had been completely devastated by a huge fire in around the 2nd century BC, according to a new report in the Deccan Chronicle. The discovery adds to the mystery of the ancient site, as archaeologists try to piece together its ancient past.
Excavations at Tarighat over the last year have revealed that it was a rich trading centre where its residents enjoyed an affluent lifestyle. Female terracotta figurines recovered from the site, indicate that women were fond of different hairstyles and rich costumes. In total, twelve different hair styles were identified among the figurines. In addition, numerous Indo-Greek coins were discovered, along with more than 15 varieties of beads found in large number in almost 2,000 unusual sizes, styles and shapes, which suggests that Chhattisgarh served as a significant bead manufacturing centre. Pendants, ornaments, bangles of gold, silver and copper have also been unearthed from site which had to be placed under supervision of department guards.
Some of the artifacts recovered at the site. Photo source.
The archaeological site spreads over five acres and experts now believe that it is one of the earliest urban trading centres in the country. The Tarighat site provides evidence of four continuous cultural sequences including the Gupta period (sixth century AD), Satavahan period (third century AD), Kushan period (1st-2nd century AD) and early history period (1st-2nd century BC).
“These were among the most interesting times in early India,” said Abhijit Dandekar, an archaeologist at the Deccan College, Pune. “It was the end of the period of the 16 mahajanapadas (loosely translated to great kingdoms) when the Mahabharata was supposedly set, and the beginning of the Maurya empire. There’s very little known about urban structures in this period, in regions spanning modern-day Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.”
The facts surrounding the great fire which destroyed much of the settlement are unknown, but researchers are hoping that further excavation work, which given the extent of the site may take another 5 – 10 years, will help unravel the mystery.
Featured Image: Excavation in progress at Tarighat archaeological site in Chhattisgarh. Credit: Deccon College