NEW DELHI: The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has unearthed two decorated ‘legged coffins’ with skeletons, furnaces and other artifacts in what it claims to be a first in the Indian subcontinent during excavation in Uttar Pradesh’s Baghpat district.
The excavation, which is continuation of the work started in 2018, at Sanauli is being carried out under the direction of SK Manjul, Director, Institute of Archaeology of ASI to understand the extension of burial site and habitation area in context with earlier findings.
“This is for the first time such discoveries were made in the Indian subcontinent, which is different from Harappan culture. It existed in upper Ganga-Yamuna Doab region. All these articles such as weapons, chariots, and shields have never been found in the sub-continent. The new findings give a new idea and dimension to Indian archeology for understanding ancient literature and Vedic literature,” said Manjul.
The excavation is being done at two different locations, which began in January. “In the first area, two burial pits and a sacred chamber of burnt brick were discovered along with burial goods. One wooden ‘legged coffin’ decorated with steatite inlays having extended skeleton of a female was excavated. This burial pit contains evidence of decomposed bow, bone points, armlet of semiprecious stones, gold bead and pottery systematically arranged towards north and eastern sides of the coffin,” said an ASI statement.
An interesting find is the antenna sword placed near the head. Last year, archaeologists discovered a chariot from the Pre-Iron Age at Sanauli. In one of burials, the ASI recovered copper mirror, hairpin, channel, beads and pottery with a female skeleton. “Interestingly, steatite inlays forming a figure of eight which is probably the lid of a vanity box found between two legs of the coffin in north.
Two big pots are placed under the coffin which could have contained food and other organic remains associated with rituals,” said an official. Another discovery is a chamber of burnt bricks where pottery fragments, and bones were recovered.At the second location, the remains of four furnaces with three associated working levels were unearthed. “The furnaces yielded slags, potsherds, and few charred bones. Stone weights, anvils, animal figurines, etc are a part of the antiquities recovered from this area. The overall ceramic assemblage has late Harappan characters,” said the ASI.
Furnaces have narrow top and broad base with air ducts and mouth to regulate temperature, indicating habitation activity associated with necropolis. “The nature of burial pottery, coffins, antiquities suggest a complex of late Harappan period. Sanauli is important in not only giving new evidence of copper decorated chariots and coffins, shields in the subcontinent first time, but also in understanding of the cultural scenario of the upper Ganga-Yamuna Doab.” Excavation is still on.