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Excavations – Important – Orissa


Kuchai (21°59’N; 86°42’E), Dt Mayurbhanj, Orissa
Along the national highway to Keonjhar Adter the Neolothic was reported in 1950’s the site was systematically excavated bt B.K. Thapar in 1961- 62 . The excavation, undertaken to a depth of 1.4 m where sub-soil water was encountered, revealed that the upper 40 to 45 cm of clayey deposit had Neolithic artefacts in acassociation with a coarse grit-tempered red ware, slipped and showing in addition incised or finger-tip decoration. The associated lithic industry consisted of round stone axes of butt- or pointed-end variety, chisels, mace-heads, pounders and grinding stones.No structural remains were met with within the excavated area. From the lower deposit composed of C lateritic gravel mixed with greyish earth were obtained microliths of an essentially non-gemoetric industry represented by blades, points, lunates and various types of scrapers. No pottery was found in association with these implements. The Neolithic occupation could be assigned on the basis of comparative study to the last quarter of, the 2nd millennium B.C. The special significance of the site lies in the twofold sequence of the two cUltures, viz. the Microlithic and the Neolithic, the occurrence of the former being identified for the first time in Orissa. In a like manner the association of pottery with Neolithic implements was recorded also for the first time, in the region.

Ratnagiri (20°38′; 86°20′), Dt Cuttack, Orissa
A small hill known even before its systematic excavation for its rich yield of Buddhist sculptures of the late historical period, along with that of two other hills in the neighbourhood, Lalitagiri (Naltigiri) and Udayagiri (Chanda, 1930). Ratnagiri figures in some late Tibetan texts, aIong them in the history of Buddhism in India by Taranatha . Excavation here by ASI under D.Mitra has yielded the remains of an imposing stupa, the main stupa, three monasteries, a number of temples and small stupas. The overwhelming number of these minor stupas is an eloquent proof of its immense popularity and sanctity as a centre of Buddhism.

Sisupalgarh (20°13′; 85°51′) Dt. Khurda, Orissa

Presents an imposing sight of an early historical fort unfolding to a remarkable degree the story of an integral culture that had its own t stages of growth, decline and decay.

Excavation conducted here by the ASI under B.B. Lal in 1948 has revealed that the site was in occupation from the beginning of the 3rd century B.C. to the middle of the 4th century A.D. The: Early Period, c. 300 to 220 B.C., represents the settlement in its formative stage when the people used plain pottery; from dull-grey to terracotta-red in colour. The culture of the site reached its height in the early phase, c. 200 B.C, to A.D. 100 when a sophisticated bright-red polished ware appears in a variety of forms, with applied and incised decorative designs. In the late phase of the Period, A.D. 100-200, the reterioration of the culture is obvious. The bright-red ware degenerates into a coarse pale red ware with crude decorations. The finds of the Period include glass bangles, clay rouae imitating Roman coins. In the last Period, c. A.D. 200 to 350, the cultural degeneration of the site was complete. A coarse ochre-washed red ware was in use of place in bright-red ware. The finds include an imitation gold coin of the Kushan king Vasudeva, Puri-Kushan coins and a number of later I Andhra coins, besides a large number of terracotta earornaments.

Udaigiri- Khandgiri, Dt. Puri, Orissa
Twin hills with one of the earliest groups of the rock-cut monastic caves of the Jainas, datable from c. l00B.C. to the earlier years of the Christian era. The inscriptions found on the walls of some of the caves are practically the only source of knowledge of the existence of a powerful dynasty of the Chetis (Chedis) that came into power in Kaliriga some time in the 1st century B.C. or a little earlier. Cave 14 (Hathigumpha) of the Udayagiri bears a most important inscription recording the achievements in war and peace of Kharavela of that dynasty. Among other things, the record mentions that he repaired the cyclone-devastated fortification of Kalinga-nagara [Sisupalgarh], brought back from Magadha the Jina of Kallilga that had been taken away by the Nandas and erected a massive structure of stone of the Kuman hill (Udayagiri) where he also excavated caves for Jaina monks.

The structure was evidently meant to provide a place of worship to the resident monks. At the top of the Udayagiri and on the roof of Cave 14 were noticed traces of a laterite structure, which, being the only one of its kind the hill, may in all likelihood be identified with the one mentioned in the inscription of Kharavela. Excavation conducted here by D. Mitra of the ASI in 1958 uncovered the remains of an apsidal hall measuring 23.77 m in length and 14 m.in width. Built of large laterite blocks, the hall has towards the apse-end of the interior a circular wall, probably the base of a platform for installing the object of worship.

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