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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

13th Sept 2021

 

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1.Excavations in Kutch shed light on early Harappan custom

  • Archaeological excavations undertaken by a group of researchers have shed light on the custom and burial rituals that were prevalent during the early Harappan phase.
  • The team which camped in Khatiya village of Kutch unearthed several skeletal remains from a cemetery-like burial site where 26 graves out of the nearly 300-odd ones were excavated.

2.Chalukyan sculpture of Siva found in Andhra Pradesh

  • A rare sculpture of Lord Siva and Goddess Parvati dating back to the 7th century was discovered at a Chalukyan temple in Satyavolu village of Prakasam district, Andhra Pradesh.
  • The red sandstone sculpture portrays Lord Siva as the therapeutic physician (Rudra Bhaishajana) — as described in Rigveda — in which he holds a bowl in his left hand, which contains medicine from herbs to revive the ailing horse lying at his feet.
  • Siva was fairly represented in sculptural art of ancient India in many forms right from the Indus Valley civilization to the late medieval period.

Chalukyan Architecture (5th – 8th CE)

  1. The temples under the Chalukyas are a good example of the Vesara style of architecture.
  2. This is also called the Deccan style or Karnataka Dravida or Chalukyan style. It is a combination of Dravida and Nagara styles.
  3. The building material they used was reddish-golden Sandstone found locally.
  4. The temples had beautiful mural paintings also.
  5. The temples are located on the banks of River Tungabhadra and Malprabaha in Karnataka and Alampur in Andhra Pradesh.
  6. Aihole temples: Ladh Khan temple (Surya Temple), Durga temple, Huchimalligudi temple, Jain temple at Meguti by Ravikirti..
  7. Badami temples: Virupaksha temple and Sangameshwara Temple are in Dravida style. Papanatha temple is in Nagara style.
  8. Pattadakkal: is a UNESCO World Heritage site. There are ten temples here – 4 in Nagar style and 6 in Dravida style.

3.Archaeologists find pre-Columbian mass child sacrifice site in Peru

  • A group of archaeologists has discovered the remains of more than 50 children who were ritually sacrificed by the pre-Columbian Chimu culture on the northern coast of what is now Peru
  • The new sacrifice site was discovered in the Pamapa La Cruz area in Huanchaco, a coastal district of Trujillo, Peru’s third-largest city

Other similar places

  • In Huanchaquito, the remains of over 140 children and 200 llamas slain some 550 years ago were discovered
  • It reinforces the idea that Huanchaco was a place where massive sacrifices of children were made during the Chimu culture

Pre-Columbian Chimu culture

  • The Chimú culture was centred on Chimor with the capital city of Chan Chan, a large adobe city in the Moche Valley of present-day Trujillo, Peru
  • The culture arose about 900 AD, succeeding the Moche culture
  • The Chimú people are best known for their distinctive monochromatic pottery and fine metal working of copper, gold, silver, bronze, and tumbaga (copper and gold)
  • The pottery is often in the shape of a creature or has a human figure sitting or standing on a cuboid bottle

4.India gets its 37th UNESCO World Heritage Site

  • India’s nomination of the “Victorian and Art Deco Ensembles of Mumbai” has been inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.
  • The decision was taken at the 42nd session of the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO at Manama in Bahrain today.
  • This achievement is especially remarkable in the view of the successive inscription of another Indian city after Ahmedabad last year

About the Ensembles

  • Together, this architectural ensemble represents the most remarkable collection of Victorian and Art Deco buildings in the world which forms the unique character of this urban setting, unparalleled in the world.
  • The Ensemble consists of 94 buildings primarily of 19th century Victorian Gothic revival and early 20th century Art Deco style of architecture with the Oval Maidan in the centre.
  • The 19th century Victorian buildings form part of the larger Fort precinct situated to the east of the Oval Maidan.
  • These public buildings include the Old Secretariat (1857-74), University Library and Convention Hall (1874-78), the Bombay High Court (1878), the Public Works Department Office (1872), Watson’s Hotel (1869), David Sasoon Library (1870), the Elphinstone College(1888), etc.
  • The Art Deco styled buildings to the west of the Oval Maidan were raised in early 20th century on the newly reclaimed lands at Marine Drive and symbolised the shift in expression to represent contemporary aspirations.

UNESCO World Heritage Properties in India

  • In the past 5 years alone, India has managed to get inscribed seven of its properties/sites on the World Heritage List of UNESCO.
  • India now has overall 37 World Heritage Inscriptions with 29 Cultural, 07 Natural and 01 Mixed sites.
  • While India stands second largest in number after China in terms of number of World Heritage properties in ASPAC (Asia and Pacific) region, it is overall sixth in the world.

5.Thanjavur Paintings

Thanjavur Paintings

  • It is a classical South Indian painting style, which was inaugurated from the town of Thanjavur and spread across the adjoining and geographically contiguous old Tamil country.
  • The art form draws its immediate resources and inspiration from way back about 1600 AD, a period when the Nayakas of Thanjavur under the suzerainty of the Vijayanagara Rayas.
  • It is distinguished by its famous gold coating.
  • However, it can safely be surmised that Thanjavur painting, as we know it now, originated in the Maratha court of Thanjavur (1676 – 1855).
  • It has been recognized as a Geographical indication by the Government of India in 2007-08.

6.Ancient rocks in India give clues to early life

Cambrian Explosion

  • It refers to the sudden appearance in the fossil record of complex animals with mineralized skeletal remains 541 million years ago.
  • Researchers have found the oldest clue to the mystery of animal life in ancient rocks and oils dating back at least 100 million years before the famous Cambrian explosion of animal fossils.
  • Researchers at the University of California tracked molecular signs of animal life, called biomarkers, as far back as 660-635 million years ago during the Neoproterozoic era.
  • In ancient rocks and oils from India, Oman, Siberia, they found a steroid compound produced only by sponges, which are among the earliest forms of animal life.

Demosponge

  • A sponge is a member of the phylum Porifera.
  • It is a simple marine animal with many cells, but no mouth, muscles, heart or brain.
  • Demosponges is a class that contains most of the sponges.
  • The sponges in this class make their skeleton from Spongin, a special protein.

7.Buddhist site museum at Lalitgiri Odisha

  • One of the earliest Buddhist settlements in Odisha, Lalitgiri (Located in Cuttack district), where excavations have yielded ancient seals and inscriptions, has been converted into a museum.

Lalitgiri Museum

  • Located in Cuttack district, it will be the third site museum of the Bhubaneswar circle of the ASI after Ratnagiri and Udaygiri.
  • The three sites together form the Diamond Triangle of Buddhism in Odisha.
  • The museum complex is spread over 4,750 sq. m. The building and auditorium are built over 1,310 sq. m. The complex has been constructed at a cost of ₹10 crore.

Historical importance of Lalitgiri

  • Excavations at Lalitgiri have yielded the remains of four monasteries, showing cultural continuity from the post-Mauryan period till the 13th century CE.
  • Tantric Buddhism was practiced at this site.
  • The centre of attraction is a relic casket containing corporal remains found inside the Mahastupta.
  • Huge sculptures of Buddha, architectural fragments of Viharas and Chaityas are arranged period-wise.
  • The central gallery is designed after a Buddha Mandala with a colossal Buddha image at the centre and six Bodhisattva images surrounding it.

8.Reconstitution of Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR)

  • The Government has reconstituted the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), New Delhi for a period of three years till 2022.

Indian Council of Historical Research

  • The ICHR is an autonomous body of the HRD Ministry, which had been established by an Administrative Order of the then Ministry of Education.
  • The body has provided financial assistance to the historians and direction to the research scholars in their multifarious topics of historical research through established historians and scholars of the country.
  • ICHR disburses funds for carrying out research to Indian as well as foreign scholars on their applications for fellowships, grants, and symposia.

9.The Indian Museum of the Earth (TIME)

  • India has set in motion an ambitious plan to create Indianised version of the world-famous Smithsonian Museum, showcasing Indian subcontinent’s evolutionary history.

The Indian Museum of the Earth (TIME)

  • This museum will be modelled on the American Museum of Natural History, or the Smithsonian museum in the U.S.
  • The museum, which will be set up as a public-private partnership, would be located somewhere in NCR.
  • Unlike static museums that are commonplace, the proposed Earth museum would be a dynamic place to encourage fossil research, student activity, public outreach besides driving policy decisions.
  • The museum would be having a repository where individual collectors and researchers can submit their life long collection for safekeeping and allowing future generation researchers to study those samples.

10. Development of Rakhi Garhi Archaeological Site

Rakhi Garhi

Rakhi Garhi is being developed as one of the five Identified Iconic Archaeological Sites, informed the Minister of Culture and Tourism.
The ancient site of Rakhi-Khas and Rakhi-Shahpur are collectively known as Rakhigarhi, located on the right bank of the now dried up Palaeo-channel of Drishadvati.
It is located in the Ghaggar-Hakra river plain in the Hissar district of Haryana.
Seven mounds are located here.
The site has yielded various stages of Harappan culture and is by far one of the largest Harappan sites in India.
The site shows the sequential development of the Indus culture in the now dried up Saraswati basin.

Major findings at Rakhi Garhi

  • Findings confirm both early and mature Harappan phases and include 4,600-year-old human skeletons, fortification and bricks.
    Digging so far reveals a well-planned city with 1.92 m wide roads, a bit wider than in Kalibangan.
  • The pottery is similar to Kalibangan and Banawali.
    Pits surrounded by walls have been found, which are thought to be for sacrificial or some religious ceremonies.
  • There are brick-lined drains to handle sewage from the houses.
    Terracotta statues, weights, bronze artefacts, comb, copper fish hooks, needles and terracotta seals have also been found.
  • A bronze vessel has been found which is decorated with gold and silver.
  • A granary belonging to the mature Harappan phase has been found here.
  • Fire altars structures were revealed in Rakhigarhi.

Five Iconic Archaeological Sites

The government has proposed to develop five archaeological sites as “iconic sites” with onsite museums in Rakhigarhi (Haryana), Hastinapur (Uttar Pradesh), Sivsagar (Assam), Dholavira (Gujarat) and Adichanallur (Tamil Nadu) in the Union Budget 2020-21.

(1) Rakhigari (Discussed above)

(2) Hastinapur

Hastinapur in the Meerut district of Uttar Pradesh finds mention in the Mahabharata and the Puranas. One of the most significant discoveries made at this site was of the “new ceramic industry”, which was named the Painted Grey Ware, which as per the report represented the relics of the early Indo-Aryans.

(3) Sivasagar

In Sivasagar (Assam), excavations at the Karenghar (Talatalghar) complex between 2000 and 2003 led to the discovery of buried structures in the north-western and north-eastern side of the complex. Among the structural remains found at the site were ceramic assemblages including vases, vessels, dishes, and bowls, etc. Terracotta smoking pipes were also found.

(4) Dholavira

Dholavira in Gujarat is located in the Khadir island of the Rann of Kutch, and like Rakhigarhi is one of the sites where the remains of the Harappan civilization have been found. It is unique because the remains of a complete water system have been found here.

(5) Adichnallur

Adichnallur lies in the Thoothukudi district of Tamil Nadu. The urn-burial site was first brought to light during a “haphazard excavation” by a German archaeologist in 1876. Following this, an Englishman Alexander Rae excavated the site between 1889 and 1905.

11. 10th century Buddhist Monastery uncovered in Jharkhand’s Hazaribagh

Details of the excavation

  • The findings were significant since the monastery is on the old route to Varanasi, 10 km from Sarnath, where the Buddha gave his first sermon.
  • Archaeologists found four statues of the deity Tara in Varad Mudra and six statues of the Buddha in bhumisparsa Mudra
  • So it is a significant finding as deity Tara’s statues mean this was an important centre of the Vajrayana sect of Buddhism.
  • Vajrayana is a form of Tantric Buddhism, which flourished in India from the 6th to 11th century.

Inscription on Krishnadevaraya’s death discovered

  • The first-ever epigraphical reference to the date of death of Vijayanagara king Krishnadevaraya has been discovered in the Tumakuru district of Karnataka.
  • Krishna Devaraya was the emperor of the Vijayanagara Empire during 1509–1529. He was the third ruler of the Tuluva Dynasty and is considered to be its greatest ruler.
  • He possessed the largest empire in India after the decline of the Delhi Sultanate.
  • Krishnadevaraya earned the titles Kannada Rajya Rama Ramana (lit, “Lord of the Kannada empire”), Andhra Bhoja (lit, “Andhra Bhoja(Scholar) King”) and Mooru Rayara Ganda (lit, “King of Three Kings”).
  • He became the dominant ruler of the peninsula of India by defeating the Sultans of Bijapur, Golconda, the Bahmani Sultanate and the Gajapatis of Odisha, and was one of the most powerful Hindu rulers in India.
  • Indeed, when the Mughal Emperor Babur was taking stock of the potentates of north India, Krishnadevaraya was rated the most powerful and had the most extensive empire in the subcontinent.
  • Portuguese travellers Domingo Paes and Fernao Nuniz also visited the Vijayanagara Empire during his reign.

His literary work

  • The rule of Krishnadevaraya was an age of prolific literature in many languages, although it is also known as a golden age of Telugu literature.
  • He was fluent in many languages like Kannada, Marathi, Sanskrit, Telugu and Tamil.
  • Eight Telugu poets were regarded as eight pillars of his literary assembly and known as Ashtadiggajas. He himself composed an epic Telugu poem Amuktamalyada.
  • He took the title of Abhinava-Bhoja and Sakala-Kala-Bhoja (“Bhoja of all the arts”) in honour of Parmara emperor Bhoja who was a polymath, a master of 64 arts and a military genius.

What does the inscription say?

  • As per the inscription, Krishnadevaraya died on October 17, 1529, Sunday.
  • Incidentally, this day was marked by a lunar eclipse.
  • The inscription also registers the gift of village Honnenahalli in
  • Tumakuru for conducting worship to the god Veeraprasanna Hanumantha of Tumakuru.
  • The Kalahasti inscription refers to the date of Achyutaraya’s (his successor) coronation as October 21, 1529 AD.

Dickinsonia fossil discovered in Bhimbetka

Researchers have found the first-ever fossil in India of a Dickinsonia —the Earth’s ‘oldest animal’, dating back 570 million years — on the roof of what’s called the ‘Auditorium Cave’ at Bhimbetka.

Dickinsonia

  • Dickinsonia is an extinct genus of basal animal that lived during the late Ediacaran period in what is now Australia, Russia and Ukraine.
  • The individual Dickinsonia typically resembles a bilaterally symmetrical ribbed oval.
  • Its affinities are presently unknown; its mode of growth is consistent with a stem-group bilaterian affinity, though some have suggested that it belongs to the fungi or even an “extinct kingdom”.
  • The discovery of cholesterol molecules in fossils of Dickinsonia lends support to the idea that Dickinsonia was an animal.

What are the new findings?

  • Like the awe-inspiring rock shelters themselves, this fossil was discovered by chance.
  • Dickinsonia fossils have shown that they could exceed four feet in length but the one found in Bhimbetka is 17 inches long.
  • Eleven feet above the ground, almost blending with the rock and easily mistaken by laymen for prehistoric rock art, they found imprints of the Dickinsonia.
  • It is believed to be one of the key links between the early, simple organisms and the explosion of life in the Cambrian Period, about 541 million years ago.

Cambrian Explosion and Dickinsonia

  • The ‘Cambrian Explosion’ is the term given to the period of time in history when complex animals and other macroscopic organisms such as molluscs, worms, arthropods and sponges began to dominate the fossil record.
  • Researchers from Australian found the Dickinsonia fossil since its tissue contained molecules of cholesterol a type of fat that is the hallmark of animal life.

Sulawesi Cave Paintings

  • The cave painting depicts a wild boar endemic to the Sulawesi island of Indonesia, where the painting was found.
  • The central Indonesian island, which occupies an area of over 174,000 sq. km, is situated between Asia and Australia.
  • It has a long history of human occupation.

Significance of the painting

  • The archaeologists’ note that the dated painting of the Sulawesi warty pig seems to be the world’s oldest surviving representational image of an animal.
  • The painting was made using red ochre pigment and depicts a pig with a short crest of upright hairs and a pair of horn-like facial warts in front of the eyes.
  • These pigs have been hunted by humans for tens of thousands of years and are the most commonly depicted animal in the ice age rock art of the island.
  • It suggests that they have long been used as food and form a “focus of creative thinking and artistic expression” for people of that time.

Annapurna Idol

  • Annapurna, also spelt Annapoorna, is the goddess of food.
    This 18th-century idol, carved in the Benares was stolen from a temple of Varanasi and smuggled out around 100 years ago somewhere around 1913.
  • Now is part of the University of Regina, Canada’s collection at the MacKenzie Art Gallery.
  • The idol holds a bowl of kheer in one hand and a spoon in the other.

Dairy production in the Indus Valley Civilization

  • By analysing residues on ancient pots, researchers show the earliest direct evidence of dairy product processing, thus throwing fresh light on the rural economy of the civilization.
  • The studies were carried out on 59 shards of pottery from Kotada Bhadli, a small archaeological site in present-day Gujarat.

A significant outcome of the study

  • The study has found residues in a bowl showing that either heated milk or curd could have been served.
  • There are also remains of a perforated vessel, and similar vessels were used in Europe to make cheese.
  • The Harappans did not just use dairy for their household.
  • The large herd indicates that milk was produced in surplus so that it could be exchanged and there could have been some kind of trade between settlements.
  • This could have given rise to an industrial level of dairy exploitation.

Sawantwadi Toy

  • Sawantwadi toys refers to hand made works of art made of wood in Sawantwadi a town in Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra. Most of these toys are made in the village of Kolgaon in Sawantwadi taluka.
  • These toys are made from the wood of the Indian Coral tree (Erythrina variegata).
  • Craftsmen who make these toys belong to the Chittari community who came to Sawantwadi from Karwar and Goa.

Renati Chola Era Inscription

Who are the Renati Cholas?

  • The Telugu Cholas of Renadu (also called as Renati Cholas) ruled over Renadu region, the present-day Kadapa district.
  • They were originally independent, later forced to the suzerainty of the Eastern Chalukyas.
  • They had the unique honour of using the Telugu language in their inscriptions belonging to the 6th and 8th centuries.
  • The earliest of this family was Nandivarman (500 AD) who claimed descent from the family of Karikala and the Kasyapa gotra.
  • He had three sons Simhavishnu, Sundarananda and Dhananjaya, all of whom were ruling different territories simultaneously.
  • The family seems to have had its origin in Erigal in the Tunmkur district, situated in the border between Pallava and Kadamba regions.

About the inscription

  • The inscription so found was engraved on a dolomite slab and shale.
    The inscription was written in archaic Telugu which is readable in 25 lines — the first side with eleven lines and the remaining on the other side.
  • It was assigned to the 8th Century A.D. when the region was under the rule of Chola Maharaja of Renadu.
  • The inscription seems to throw light on the record of a gift of six Marttus (a measuring unit) of land gifted to a person Sidyamayu, one of the Brahmins serving the temple at Pidukula village.
  • It says the people who safeguard this inscription for future generations will acquire the status of conducting Aswamedha Yajna and those destroying it will incur sin equivalent to causing death in Varanasi.

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