Scientists in India to test DNA of Ancient Skeletons to Determine if they are Ahom Royals
Scientists in India will compare DNA from the bones of six 700-year-old skeletons to the DNA of living descendants of the Ahom royals to see if the old bones belong to the ancestors of the Ahom royal family or to looters who died while plundering the tombs at the famous Charaideo Maidam site in Assam, the burial site of kings and queens of the Ahom kingdom.
“The purpose of the comparison is to find out if the skeletal remains belong to a king or to plunderers as for centuries, the mounds of Charaideo were plundered. The DNA analysis will reveal the truth,” said Madhujyor Rajkonwar , a member of the royal family.
“Earlier, we believed there were five individuals, but now, it is clear that six individuals were buried. The bones were kept at the ASI’s office in Sivasagar .The DNA results will take time as it is important to know whether the remains belong to members of the royal family,” said Veena Mushrif Tripathi, assistant professor at Deccan College Post Graduate and Research Institute.
Twenty DNA samples were collected from the remains and 16 samples were collected from living male members of the royal family. Two samples were collected from female members who married into the royal family and two from members of other families.
Charaideo was the first capital of the Ahom kingdom established by the first Ahom king Chao Lung Siu-Ka-Pha in 1228. The capital of the Ahom kingdom moved around, but Charaideo was always the symbolic and holy center of it. It contains sacred burial grounds of Ahom royalty and nobility and is also considered as the seat of the ancestral Gods of the Ahoms.
The burial mound is that of the last king of Ahom, Purandar Singha- Rajamaidam, Jorhat (Photo by Anupam sarmah/ Wikimedia Commons )
The website Astrolika.com describes the Charaideo site as having majestic sculptures, underground vaults and domed chambers covered by the mounds, all situated around open spaces that visitors may walk among.
Archaeologists have identified about 150 maidams or barrows at the site of Charaideo. Only about 30 maidams are under the protection of the Archaeological Survey of Indian and Assam State Archaeology Department. The rest are not afforded protection and are still being encroached on by people and are likely to be damaged further.
The site is being considered for inclusion as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Ahom statues showing gods from the Deopahar ruins of the Ahom people. (Photo by Bornav27may/ Wikimedia Commons )
The maidams of the kings and queens have been compared to the pyramids of Egypt. They exhibit superb architecture and skill of the medieval sculptors and mason of Assam.
The archaeologist in charge, Milan Kumar Chauley, expressed the importance of the latest research: "This is the most ambitious archaeological analysis in the region. For the first time in the northeast, such a comparison between ancient and modern DNA is being carried out."
Determining the identity of the skeletons holds a lot of significance for the local people, many of whom claim descent from the Ahoms.
Featured image: The raja’s palace (Photo by Nilotpal444/ Wikimedia Commons )
By Mark Miller