The government proposes to set up an Indian Institute of Heritage and Conservation under the Ministry of Culture, and develop five archaeological sites as “iconic sites” with onsite museums in Rakhigarhi (Haryana), Hastinapur (Uttar Pradesh), Sivsagar (Assam), Dholavira (Gujarat) and Adichanallur (Tamil Nadu).
Rakhigarhi in Haryana’s Hissar district is one of the most prominent and largest sites of the Harappan civilisation. It is one among the five known townships of the Harappan civilisation in the Indian subcontinent.
Between 2013 and 2016, excavations were carried out at the cemetery in Rakhigarhi by a team of Indian and South Korean researchers led by Vasant Shinde of Deccan College, Pune. In one of their excavations, the skeletal remains of a couple were discovered. Interestingly, of the 62 graves discovered in Rakhigarhi, only this particular grave consisted of more than one skeletal remains and of individuals of the opposite sex together.
Excavations at Hastinapur, in Meerut district of Uttar Pradesh, were led by Dr B B Lal, who was at the time Superintendent of the Excavations Branch of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
Hastinapur finds mention in the Mahabharata and the Puranas. One of the most significant discoveries made at this site was of the “new ceramic industry”, which was named the Painted Grey Ware, which as per the report represented the relics of the early Indo-Aryans.
In his paper titled, ‘Excavation at Hastinapur and Other Explorations in the Upper Ganga and Sutlej Basins 1950-1952: New Light on the Dark Age Between the End of the Harappa Culture and the Early Historical Period’ published in ‘Ancient India’, the bulletin of the ASI, Lal wrote, “…A conclusion that would appear to force itself on us is: that the sites of Hastinapur, Mathura, Kurukshetra, Barnawa, etc., are identifiable with those of the same name mentioned in the Mahabharata. If that be so, the Painted Grey Ware would be associated with the early settlers on these sites, viz. The Pauravas, Panchalas, etc., who formed a part of the early Aryan stock in India. Such an association may also explain the synchronism between the appearance of the Painted Grey Ware in the Ghaggar-Sutlej valleys and the probable date of the arrival of the Aryans in that area.”
In Sivasagar, excavations at the Karenghar (Talatalghar) complex between 2000 and 2003 led to the discovery of buried structures in the north-western and north-eastern side of the complex.
Among the structural remains found at the site were ceramic assemblages including vases, vessels, dishes, and bowls, etc. Terracotta smoking pipes were also found.
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Another excavation site in Sivasagar district is the Garhgaon Raja’s palace. Excavation at this site was conducted during 2007-2008. A burnt-brick wall running in north-south orientation was found, along with the remains of two huge circular wooden posts.
Dholavira in Gujarat is located in the Khadir island of the Rann of Kutch, and like Rakhigarhi is one of the sites where the remains of the Harappan civilisation have been found.
Dholavira is unique because remains of a complete water system have been found here. The people who lived there for an estimated 1,200 years during the Harappan civilisation are noted for their water conservation system using rainwater harvesting techniques in an otherwise parched landscape.
Adichnallur lies in the Thoothukudi district of Tamil Nadu. The urn-burial site was first brought to light during a “haphazard excavation” by a German archaeologist in 1876. Following this, an Englishman Alexander Rae excavated the site between 1889 and 1905.
Over the years, the site has gained attention because of three important findings: the discovery of an ancient Tamil-Brahmi script on the inside of an urn containing a full human skeleton, a fragment of a broken earthenware, and the remains of living quarters.
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