Excavations – Important – Jammu & Kashmir


Burzahom (34°10′; 73°54′), Dt Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir
Burzahom is located 16 km northeast of Srinagar off Naseem-Shalimar road, and situated about 1800 m above sea-level. The Megalithic menhirs here are situated on a karewa mound which were first noticed by de Terra and Paterson in 1939, who collected some bone and stone tools from here in a short excavation. Subsequent exploration by the ASI has brought to light about a dozen similar sites such as Begagund, Brah, Gofkral, Hariparigom, Jayadevi-udar, Olichibag, Pampur, Panzogom, Sombur, Thajiwor and Waztal, all located on karewas especially in the south – east parts of the Kashmir valley. Extensive excavation conducted at Burzahom by T.N. Khazanchi and his associates on behalf of the ASI from 1960 to 1971 has brought to light a fourfold sequence of cultures: Periods I and II, Neolithic; Period Ill, Megalithic; and Period IV, early, Historical.

Period I has revealed dwelling pits, circular or oval on plan, narrow at the top and wide at the base and also pit chambers, square to rectangular in shape. Both the circular pits and pit chambers were dug into the compact natural soil. Some of the deeper ones were provided with landing steps, which however do not lead down to the bottom indicating the use of a ladder for further descent. The filling in some pits consists of ash and charcoal in regular bands, which is clearly indicative of human occupation. Post-holes on the periphery of these pits suggest that there must have been some superstructure of perishable material such as birch, carried on wooden posts as a protective cover. Storage pits, 60 to 91 cm in diameter, containing some animal bones, stone and bone tools are in close proximity to the dwelling pits. Irregularly dressed leaning stones, 91 cm to 1.51 m in length and 22 to 44 cm in width. Apart from the dwelling pits the residential pattern at the earliest level consists of rectangular or squarish pit chambers. They are also cut into the natural soil down to a depth of about 1 m or even less.

The period is marked by the presence of a large number of well-polished bone and stone tools. The pottery is characterised by crude and handmade, coarse in fabric, the colour mainly of steel-grey and various shades of dull-red, brown and buff. The main shapes are the bowl, vase and stem.

The Period II saw introduction of many new structural patterns. The semi-subterranean pits and pit chambers were filled up and plastered with mud and sometimes covered with a thin coat of red ochre to serve as a floor. That extensive timber structures were erected is clear from the numerous post-holes on the regular floors in the rammed karewa soil. An important discovery in this Period is an engraved stone making it non-functional at the place of its occurrence. The engraving on the slab depicts hunting scenes showing an antlered deer being pierced from behind with a long spear by a hunter and an arrow being discharged by another hunter from the front. Numerous human and animal burials have been found. Humans were buried both primarily and secondarily in oval pits, mostly dug into the house floors or in the compound, the filling being, ash, stone pieces and pot sherds. Trepanning has also been noticed on one skull. In secondary burials skulls and long bones were preferred. Along with human bones those of dogs and antlered deer occur.

The pottery is generally handmade and consists of burnished black ware of medium fabric with shapes of dish with provision for a stand, high-necked jar, etc. Matt impressions on the bases continue on many types. A wheel-made red-ware pot with 950 carnelian and agate beads belongs to the end of the Period.

The Neolithic culture is followed by the Megalithic associated with the setting up of menhirs to erect with wide pits were cut. The Megalithic people used wheel-made pots of gritty red ware. Bone and stone tools continue to be in use along with copper objects but the incidence is less. Rubble structures of this Period have also been found.

The last activity at the site is in the early historical period, with mud-brick structures. The pottery is, red ware of fine-to-medium fabric, often slipped and mostly wheel-made. Iron objects occur.

Following are some of the 14C for the Neolithic levels: 1535 + 110 B.C.; 1825 + 100B.C.;1850 + 125 B.C.; 2025 + 350 B.C.;2225 + 115B.C.;and 2375 + 210 B.C.

Manda (36°56′; 74°48′), Dt. Jammu, Jammu and Kashmir
On the right bank of the Chenab in the foothills of the Pir Panjal range,is considered as the northernmost limit of the Harappan Civilization. It was excavated by J.P.Joshi in 1976-7. The 9.20 m deposit has threefold sequence, with two Sub-Periods in Period l. Sub-Period I A is marked by the arrival of the Harappans, who had the pre; Harappa redware (15 to 20%) as well, the jar with thick painted horizontal bands being reminiscent of the pre-defence phase of Harappa; a rusticated ware is also met with. The Harappa ware includes the jar, dish, dish-on-stand, beaker and goblet but no perforated jar. There are a copper pin of w.Asian affinity, bone arrowheads, terracotta cakes, sherds with Harappa graffiti,chert blades and an unfinished seal. In Sub-Period I B the Harappa red ware and grey ware are associated with the PGW. In the former the beaker and goblet are absent. The grey ware is represented by the dish and bowl, the ware being in the proportion of 7 to 19%.Period II has the early historical pottery of types comparable with those of that period from n.India. Period III is represented by Kushan antiquities and impressive house walls of rubble diaper masonry flanked on both sides of a 3 m wide street.

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