ARCHAEOLOGY OF RAJASTHAN
Archaeology is the study of human cultures through the recovery, documentation and analysis of material remains and environmental data, including architecture, artifacts, biofacts, human remains, and landscapes. The goals of archaeology are to document and explain the origins and development of human culture, understand culture history, chronicle cultural evolution, and study human behavior and ecology, for both prehistoric and historic societies. It is considered, in North America, to be one of the four sub-fields of anthropology. Rajasthan has been a place of interest to both the archeologists and the geologists. Kalibanga and Akal Wood Fossil Park are two such places that attract them the most.
Kalibanga in Rajasthan, India
Kalibangan is a town on the banks of the Ghaggar river, Hanumangarh district, Rajasthan, India 205 km. from Bikaner. Archeologists have proved the existence of Indus Valley civilization in desert of Thar and the remnants of the pre-Harappan and Harappan settlements that have been unearthed here have played a big role in their supposition.
The archaeological evidences found at Kalibanga shows that Rajasthan had once been an important centre of the ceramic industry as the paintings on the ancient pottery found at this place bears close resemblance to the Harappan designs. Even the contemporary pottery of Rajasthan has a distinct influence of the Indus Valley ceramic industry and the related handicrafts.
History of Kalibanga in Rajasthan, India
Long before recorded history, many thousands of years ago, there was a city on the banks of a river called Saraswati. Agriculture flourished here, as did commerce and the industries of pottery, iron and beads.
And then, the mighty river changed its course and finally dried up due to the immensity of the encroaching desert. The winds of change buried the city under the sands of time and for the next four thousand years or more, it lay entombed below the dunes as millenniums slipped silently by on the hot desert surface. And the ancient city was forever lost to memory.
The prehistoric and pre-Mauryan character of Indus Valley Civilization was first identified by Luigi Tessitori at this site.The identity of Kalibangan as an Indus valley site was discovered by Luigi Pio Tessitori, an Italian Indologist (1887-1919). He was doing some research in ancient Indian texts. He was surprised by the character of ruins in that area, and he sought help from Sir John Marshall of the Archaeological Survey of India. At that time ASI had some excavations done on Harappa, but they never had any idea about the character of the ruins. In fact, Tessitori is the first person to recognise that the ruins are 'Prehistoric' and pre-Mauryan. He also pointed out the nature of the culture and thus we can more or less say that L. P. Tessitori had discovered the Indus Valley Civilisation in Kalibangan.
It was explored by Shri A. GHOSH, Ex. Director General, Archaeological Survey of India. On 15th Aug. 1947 when India got Independence it was deprived of Harappa and Mohenjo-daro the two provincial capitals of the Harappan Empire, the earliest known civilization of the Indian sub-continent and it was given to Pakistan. It did not deter the Indian Archaeologist. On the contrary during the last 33 years the Indian map is dotted with number of Harappan sites and Kalibangan is one of them.
According to archaeological evidence, the Indus Valley culture existed at the site from the proto-Harappan age (3500 BC - 2500 BC) to the Harappan age (2500 BC - 1750 BC). Kalibangan is known to be the earliest town in the history of India to be destroyed by an earthquake.
The Indus Valley culture that flourished here is also called the Sothi culture because of its striking similarities with a site at Sothi in Afghanistan.
The Indus Valley Civilization at Kalibanga in Rajasthan, India
Like Harappa and Mohenjo-daro it consists of two mounds one smaller and lower on the western side (KLB1) known as citadel, rising to a height of 9 Meters and the other higher and bigger known as lower city (KLB2) on the eastern side rising to a height of 12 Meters. They cover the area of quarter square kilometer. The site was excavated from the year 1960-61 to 1968-69, for 9 successive excavation sessions.
The excavations revealed, as at Harappa and Mohenjo-daro, a definite system of town planning (KLB2) based in grid pattern in which houses were oriented roughly along the cardinal direction and the street and lances ran approximately north-south and east-west. The arterial streets running north-south 4 in nos. were excavated and they had the width ranging from 7.20 to 1.80 M.. The first, third and fourth from the western side were found to be running almost straight while the second ran in a curved outline to meet the first at the north-eastern end, where a gateway was provided. For the disposal of the sullege water, burnt bricks drain, soakage jars and wooden rafts were used. On the road no encroachment found through out the occupation period, except that of the bazaar platforms. During the Harappan occupation nine successive structural periods were found. The city had fortification wall which had at least two entrances, one on the northern side and the other on the western side of the wall.
On the Citadel, western, smaller and lower mound (KLB) a fortification wall is found to run round the mound which divided the mound into the two halves the northern and the southern one. It had at least four entrances from the outside, three in the eastern-northern half. The citadel area contained row of fire alters, well, baked brick drains of successive phase covered as well as uncovered.
Fire altars have been discovered, suggesting fire worship or worship of Agni, the Hindu god of fire. It is the only Indus Valley Civilization sites where there is no evidence to suggest the worship of the "mother goddess". People followed a burial practice called Cist burial. The grave consisted of a brick chamber in which the dead body was placed. Adjacent to the chamber were smaller chambers in which offerings for the dead person were placed.
The earliest agricultural field found in an archaeological excavation may be one from Kalibangan. An earthquake dated to ca. 2700 BCE was identified in Kalibangan, probably the earliest one ever recorded in an archaeological context.
Some early Kalibangan pottery has close resemblance to the pottery of the Hakra ware in Cholistan, to other Early Harappan pottery from the Indus Valley Civilization and to the pottery of the Integration Era.
Tourist Attraction of Kalibanga in Rajasthan, India
Though not as big as its counterparts across the border in Pakistan, Kalibanga nevertheless became a major site of the IVC-a monument to Indian history and history of man. But then came years of neglect. It seemed after the digging was over, no thought was given for conservation of the excavated site. Temporary solution proved completely ineffective against the fury of the elements. The precious evidence so painstakingly excavated finally crumbled into unrecognizable rubble. It is now over thirty years after the excavations stopped, and as yet there is no final report of the digging done at Kalibanga. If it was officially written, it never got published for public use. So today, the IVC site of Kalibanga stands not only completely destroyed but also forgotten.
Kalibanga is at a distance of 661 km from Delhi, the national capital and the nearest railway station is at Bikaner, 205 km away.
Akal Wood Fossil Park in Rajasthan, India
17 km from Jaisalmer, Aakal Wood Fossil Park that houses fossils, which are 180 million years old! Considered to be geological landmarks, these fossils recreate the world of Jurassic period before us when the entire Thar Desert lay under the sea, just as indicated by a legend in Ramayana (the great epic of Hindu religion). Sea shells and massive fossilized tree trunks in this park record the geological history of the desert. The whole area is now preserved for posterity as a natural wonder.
The park sprawls over the area of 10 sq km and boasts of 25 petrified trunks, the largest being 13 m long. It is believed that the area was once covered with thick forests of non-flowering trees, mainly comprising of Chir and Deodar. It is believed that the sea retreated about 36 million years ago and left behind a fossiled forest in this area and the wood fossils of the place, has given ample evidence to the geologists to believe that a possibly hot and humid climate existed in the region 180 million years ago as well as the area has been under the sea on four different occasions.
The area of wood fossil Park, Akal is 21 hectare. It is 15 kilometer form Jaisalmer on the Jaisalmer Barmer road. The fossilized wood logs are lying prostrate in random orientation. 25 wood logs are visible on the surface of which 10 are well exposed. The largest exposed log is 7 m. in length and 1.5m.in width. There are more wood fossils lying deep under the surface. Evidence of similar fossils is surfacing in many other areas in Jaisalmer region.
Wood fossils of Akal are an example where the process of petrification took precedence over disintegration of organic matter and fossilized the wood. The fossilization took place about 180 million years ago, and the whole forest composed of huge trees was petrified. In that geological era there were only non flowering trees. Therefore the wood fossils are considered to represent gymnosperms like Chir, Deodar or Red wood of lower Jurassic age.
The presence of gigantic trees suggests that the land that is desert today had a different hot and humid climate which supported a luxuriant forest. These tree trunks were buried in sediments in a horizontal form and petrified. Subsequent geological activities caused shifting and upheaval of the sandy basin bringing these fossils to the surface. These now stand exposed in the present form due to weathering by wind and erosion by water. There are large numbers of petrified logs and innumerable pieces of woods scattered on the surface in the area and evidence of fruits have also been discovered.
Just 17 kms from Jaisalmer and a kilometre away from the Barmer Road are fossilised remains of 180 million-year-old forests. These are beautiful forest vistas and any forester around can show you. There is a ticket to visit the Park for foreigners Rs 20 and locals Rs 5 plus Rs 10 for vehicle.