BHUBANESWAR: Silver coins and jewellery, precious beads and rare terracotta ware have been excavated from historical Asurgarh fort site throwing light on existence of a civilisation dating 2,300 years back - from Mauryan to Kushan period - near Narla block of Kalahandi district.
The Archeological Survey of India (ASI) officials have been excavating the protected site since November last week. They said findings point at Asurgarh, an ancient metropolis, being contemporary to Sisupalagarh, Ujjain, Ahichatra, Kosambi and other ancient Indian cities. The fort was planned in a rectangular pattern as per Kautalyan principles of ‘Durgabidhana’ and surrounded by a moat on three sides.
ASI’s excavation wing chief DB Gadanayak said the first phase scientific excavation of the fort site threw up seven silver punch-marked coins, silver and copper toe ring and ear rings, large number of pottery items, beads of semi-precious stones like Carnelian, Jasper, Beryl, Garnet, Agate and Coral and glass bangle pieces of different designs and colours. These apart, sling balls, pestle, iron equipment like small wheel, ring, harpoon and arrow head have been found from the site.
“The material culture in the form of beads and bangles in different shapes and colour shows the artistic talent of people of that era. Coral beads and imperial variety of silver punch mark coins strongly indicate the long distant trade and association of hinterland people with their seafaring counterparts,” Gadanayak said. The site was considered an emporium of bead-making and trading and its hydraulic system was considered unique.
Two layers of the site have been excavated so far. In the first layer, a number of brick structures including an apsidal one have been found. Most of these structures, Gadanayak said, are covered with terracotta tiles having groves and holes for socketing. “People of Asurgarh then used stone rubbles and tile fragments for flooring their houses and streets,” he said and added that while the bricks date back to the Kushan era, the silver coins belong to Mauryan period. The excavation will continue till March-end.
The site was declared protected under the Ancient Monuments and Archeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 in 1973. Asurgarh fort consists of main fort and exterior fortification. The main fortification spreads over 12 hectare and there was also an external fortification, which is now in ruins.
At present, the height and width of the fortified wall measure 11 mx7.5 m and the encircled moat measures 36 m in width.