By Prarthana Mitra
In a historical first, the Archaeological Survey of India which recently embarked on an inquiry into the ancient history of India, has stumbled onto artefacts, including a chariot dating back to the pre-Iron or Bronze Age in Sanauli, Uttar Pradesh. The discovery will certainly pave the way for further investigation into the fabled Mahabharata period.
Here’s what happened
Among the relics excavated from eight burial pits were remnants of a chariot, four copper antennae swords, copper crowns, grey-ware pottery, wheels (some without spokes), ornaments, helmets, shields, two daggers, seven channel-like objects, besides human remains.
Burial pits have previously been unearthed at Rakhigarhi, Kalibangan, and Lothal. Chariots figure prominently in the Rigveda, which gives evidence of their presence in India in 2-millennium B.C. The discovery of the chariot could shed further light on the origin of beasts of burden such as the bull or the horse, in the Chalcolithic period.
The team of experts who participated in the trial dig announced and unveiled the findings on Monday.
Finding a place in global history
Institute of Archaeology Director SK Manjul told the media this discovery puts India on par with ancient civilisations like Mesopotamia and Greece which are notable for their extensive use of chariots. Manjul who also heads the archaeology team said, “It seems a warrior class thrived in this region in the past.”
“This throws light on the lifestyle and cultures of the people who lived in the Pre Iron Age – there are mirrors with copper, the elaborate burials, all this shows the society was technologically advanced, aesthetic and had the sense of art and craft,” added Manjul.
The repository of remains, complete with chariots and coffins containing copper-plated anthropomorphic figures with horns and crowns are indicative of a royal burial. This is the first time such a discovery has been made in the Indian subcontinent.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius.