вторник, 26 февраля 2019 г.

Excavations at Kunal village open up more doors to pre-Harappan period

The three successive seasons of excavation at prominent pre-Harappan site in Kunal, a sleepy village in Ratia Tehsil of Haryana’s Fatehabad district, including the ongoing digging for the last one month, have led to the discovery of a wide variety of artefacts. Wares, beads, bangles, stamps and copper objects with the evidence of a furnace and a workshop giving insights into the Harappan Civilization were unearthed from this historic site.

Excavations at Kunal village open up more doors to pre-Harappan period
Credit: The Hindu

Though excavated earlier in the 1980s and 1990s as well, the site at Kunal is spread over an area of around 15-20 acre with over 4 million thick habitation. The site has been dug up thrice since 2017 following a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Department of Archaeology and Museums, Haryana; the Indian Archaeological Society, New Delhi and National Museum, New Delhi. The present excavation work started on January 9 and is expected to go on till the end of March.

Objectives of the excavation

Speaking about the purpose of excavations since 2017, Technical Assistant, Shuvam Malik said there was enough information available about the structural phases from the previous excavations in 80s and 90s at this site. But there was no background information about the identity of the occupants as to who they were and when and where did they come from. “The main objective during these three seasons of digging was, therefore, to see the origin of Hakra culture and to find out as to who were the earliest occupants of the site and where did they come from,” he said. He added that their team also attempted to know about the craft-specialisation of pre-Harappan people, their behaviour and ceramic traditions through the recent diggings.

A large variety of Hakra ware, red ware, black-on-red ware, black-and-red ware and painted grey ware has been found in considerable quantity and in various shapes at Kunal during the three seasons. Besides this, terracotta cakes, terracotta beads, bangles, gamesmen, steatite beads, seals, stamps, terracotta animal figurines, including one with pasted steatite beads, semi-precious stone beads, copper objects and other antiquities were also discovered.

Artefacts unearthed

Excavation co-director, Banani Bhattacharyya, said the activity areas of craftsmanship having evidence of furnace and workshop for making steatite beads, different ornaments, ceramics were noticed with evidences of finished and unfinished products. “Mud brick walls and floors and multiple floors have also been found during the excavation. A large number of precious antiquities like silver objects and gold beads in early Harappan fabric pot were revealed by the excavators. Copper smelting furnace was also found along with a large number of copper objects and also typical classical Harappan crucible [terracotta] was found,” said Dr. Bhattacharyya.

Mr. Malik pointed out that Kunal had the richest ceramic repertoire among the pre-Harappan sites in the region and the entire Indus Valley Civilization and there was a “lot of variation and variety in ceramic tradition”. He added that they also found interesting antiquities and gold beads, but the bone and copper artefacts were found in abundance during the diggings.

Excavations at Kunal village open up more doors to pre-Harappan period
Credit: The Hindu

The excavators have also found a lot of pit activity at the site and the bones of the mammals, a majority of them charred. The bones are found in the context of the pits. “We are trying to classify the pits found. The charred bones found are of mammals such as antelopes, gazelle and nilgai. These remains will be tested by geologists to find out if they are of wild or domesticated variety. It also hints at some kind of ritual to sacrifice animals,” said Mr. Malik.
“In Kunal, we stumbled upon dwelling pits not usually found in early-Harappan context. It is unique. Bricks are used along with these dwelling pits. The moulded bricks make lining of the pits with thatched roofs,” said Mr. Malik.

Mr. Malik said that the discovery of marine shells at Kunal, whose nearest possible source can be Arabian Sea, hinted at possibilities of trade between these people and other socio-cultural groups.

Cultural chronology

The digging at the site is being done vertically using the Wheeler-Kenyon method to ascertain the chronological sequence of the habitation. The chronology of cultural sequence found at the site is: Period I A- Stage I (Pre-Harappan), Period I B- Stage II (Early Harappan), Period II A- Stage III (Transitional phase), Period II B- Stage IV (Harappan) and Period III – painted grey ware.

As per the Wheeler-Kenyon method, the mound has been divided into grids measuring 10 m x10 m and each grid is further divided into four quadrants. “After digging, the soil along with cultural material is sent for sieving. All cultural material is sorted during the sieving. Ceramics are sent for washing. Bones and rest of antiquities are sorted out from the soil during sieving and labelled. We also maintain pottery yard at the site where we sort all the ceramics in the sequence of digging of each and every quadrant. It help us understand the pattern emerging in the ceramic culture of the society,” said another Technical Assistant Ravi Kant.

The labourers hired for the digging are mostly the local villagers, who are imparted training before being engaged for the job. “The villagers are excited about the digging work as for them it is an opportunity to get work. We engaged 80 labourers, though more than 200 had turned up for hiring,” said the photographer in the team, Darbar Singh.

The staff involved in the digging has been staying put at the site and a makeshift kitchen and other facilities are put in place for them.

Kunal is an excavation site protected by Department of Archaeology and Museums, Haryana and is fenced and guarded by a security guard.

During the first season of digging in 2016-17, the eastern part of the mound, which is low-lying, was dug up. In the next season, the team dug up South-eastern slope and discovered some good structural deposit results, including a white platform, and also got evidence of the deposit of industrial dump. “So to expand the region, we have dug up adjacent to it this year,” said Mr. Malik.

Findings for the three seasons of digging are likely to be published by year-end.

Author: Ashok Kumar | Source: The Hindu [February 19, 2019]



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