Discovering the origins of India

Discovering the origins of India

India, land of enigmas, fables and myths. An exotic country that keeps inside numerous unknowns that no one has yet named. This almost total absence of sourcesboth external and internal has caused India to enter Western history very slowly and we hardly know much about its origins.

The first testimonials known about these eastern lands came from the Achaemenid Persians and in them the regions of the extreme northwest of the Asian subcontinent and their incorporation as satrapies of empire. Later, Alexander the Great would travel through India in the company of his army and his lieutenants would be the ones who would provide direct information (although not always truthful) about this country, which today it still appears scattered in the works of classical authors.

Although they are Buddhist sources those that have provided more substantial data about the events that took place in India during the first millennium BC.

At present, archaeologists and historians do not give up anything and continue to concentrate their efforts on the search for new evidence to shed more light on the great gaps that permeate Indian history.

Among others many discoveries, the Archaeological Study of India (SO), found in Bangarh (south of Dinajpur) a fireplace from the Copper Age, architectural structures from the mauryan era, golden leaves of peepul (Indian tree of the fig family) that would surely be used in rituals during the Gupta period and a gigantic temple in a fortified citadel that belong to the kings of Pala.

«For the first time in North Bengal, evidence of human activity and settlements has been found corresponding to the Chalcolithic period (300 years BC in India) through the pre-Maurya, Maurya, Sunga Kushana, Gupta, post-Gupta, Pala periods. and even the sultanate (from the 12th and 16th centuries)»Commented Tapanjyoti Baidya, superintendent archaeologist of ASI Calcutta, who led the excavation team in Bangarh.

Gautam Sengupta, the director general of ASI, assures that: «Bangarh is a site with immense potential… That is why we must continue with the excavations for a longer time to have a full view of the site«.

The first scientific excavation in Bangarh was carried out by archaeologist and scholar K.G. Goswami, under the patronage of Shyamaprasad Mukherjee, then rector of the University of Calcutta.

In this excavation some brick walls were discovered, probably belonging to the Pala time (between the 8th and 12th centuries), which led them to conclude that there had been civilian settlements in that place during the Chalcolithic era until the Sultanate periods.

A recent excavation carried out by ASI coincides with the hypothesis that Goswami made and that according to these experts, was the first step to trace the cultural sequence and settlement pattern in that territory.

«Bangarh has been mentioned several times in ancient literature. Mahasthan's inscriptions in Brahmi's writings from the 3rd century BC narrate that Bangarh was part of the Mauryan Empire. Other documents such as Vayupurana and Samhita Brihat mention that Kotivarsha or Bangarh was the seat of the provincial governors of the Gupta kings. There are documents, which prove that Bangarh was also rich and glorious during the reign of the Palas and there is evidence that this prosperity continued until the Mongols took over the region«, Assured Baidya.

This place can be divided into two areas: the Citadel, which is the main mound of a palace located in the highest part (which cannot be excavated because people are living in it) and the city area where humble people lived.

The whole area was surrounded by a high brick wall (226 meters of it have been exposed) consisting of semicircular holes, kept a certain length between each other that served so that archers could shoot their enemies from within the wall. In addition, a moat was also made in order to make the fortress even more inaccessible and which is still visible today.

But nevertheless, the temple complex, which occupies a significant part of the main mound, can only be seen partially. Even so, remains of decorative brick plates have been found (like one that had the image of an archer carved and that would surely adorn the facade of the temple) and also ritual poles that had a stamp of great artistic delicacy stamped.

In turn, a wall and pieces of some of the pillars that supposedly made up the congregation hall have been unearthed. «It looks like a panchayatana temple (the main sanctuary is surrounded by four subsidiary chapels)Baidya opined.

Different remains of a fireplace with small pieces of coal inside, a copper container, a black and red plate, copper rods, broken antimony and fragments of numerous crucibles, indicate that during the Chalcolithic period, Bangarh was also a handicraft manufacturing center.

Of the pre-Mauryan era A chalcedonian bead and a boat-shaped mold have been found. Despite the fact that the area has remained submerged under water for centuries, two polished wooden boards from the Mauryan period, and which bear a great resemblance to the wooden boards found in Pataliputra also from the same period. These were the first discoveries from the Mauryan era to be found in the state of Bengal.

Regarding the Gupta period, archaeologists have found a residential complex with burnt brick walls and a fired brick floor, a rather curious find in eastern India. One of the hearths, lined with decorative tiles, has revealed charred bones, as well as rice and fish from the period inside. The ashes found by the ASI team suggest that this area was engulfed by a large fire in the post-Gupta period.

Finally, studies have revealed that during the reign of the Palas, peace and prosperity returned to the Bangarh region, and that stability even lasted until the Sultanate era.

Video: 5,000 Years History of India documentary