Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Sep, 21, 2019

Sangam era older than previously thought, finds study


Sangam era is much older

  • In a major turning point in the cultural historiography of the ancient Sangam Age, the TN Archaeology Department found that the cultural deposits unearthed during excavations at Keeladi are dated to a period between 6th century BCE and 1st century CE.
  • This is the first time the date has been officially announced.
  • The new findings in the report place Keeladi artefacts about 300 years earlier than previously believed — 3rd century BCE.
  • The results from the fourth excavations suggest that the “second urbanisation [the first being Indus] of Vaigai plains happened in Tamil Nadu around 6th century BCE as it happened in Gangetic plains.”

 Tamil-Brahmi Script

  • The recent scientific dates obtained for Keeladi findings push back the date of Tamil-Brahmi script to another century, i.e., 6th century BCE.
  • These results clearly ascertained that they attained literacy or learned the art of writing as early as 6th century BCE.

Tamil-Brahmi potsherds

  • Fifty-six Tamil-Brahmi inscribed potsherds were recovered from the site of excavation.
  • Pottery specimens from Keeladi confirmed that water containers and cooking vessels were shaped out of locally available raw materials.
  • Recovery of 10 spindle whorls, 20 sharply pinpointed bone tip tools used for design creations, hanging stones of the yarn, terracotta spheres, copper needle and earthen vessels to hold liquid clearly attest to the various stages of weaving industry from spinning, yarning, looming and weaving and later for dyeing.

Standard of living

  • Apart from the matter of the settlement’s age, the report highlights the supposedly high standard of living in the Sangam era.
  • The document describes “well-laid floors made of fine clay”, “roof tiles” with “grooves” to “drain water”, joints fastened with “iron nails”, etc.
  • Archaeologists also unearthed 110 dies made of ivory, and attributed them to the Sangam people’s alleged participation in sports and other recreational activities.
  • The report additionally discusses evidence of cattle-rearing, structural engineering, handicrafts, a local weaving industry, household utensils, and ornaments and terracotta figurines.


Sangam Age

  • The ‘Sangam’ describes a period from the sixth century BC to the third century AD encompassing today’s Tamil Nadu, Kerala, the southern parts of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, and northern Sri Lanka.
  • The Tamil Sangams or Cankams were assemblies of Tamil scholars and poets that, according to traditional Tamil accounts, occurred in the remote past.
  • It is named for scholarly congregations in and around the city of Madurai, located about 400 km southwest of Chennai.
  • The period is noted for its Tamil literature and its literary output is closely associated with a significant politico-literary movement in early 20th century TN, which held that the Dravidian people could be descended from the people of the Indus Valley civilisation.
  • The Sivaganga discovery is the first major one of its kind in the state that claims to attest to the presence of an ancient urban civilisation in the subcontinent’s south, a civilisation that has often been pooh-poohed as political rhetoric.
  • It also strengthens the purported connection between the Indus Valley settlers and the ancient residents of Keezhadi.
Sep, 17, 2019

New reports clearly confirm ‘Aryan’ migration into India


  • ‘The Genomic Formation of South and Central Asia’ was released online, in March 2018 creating a sensation in India and around the world.
  • It propounded that between 2000 BCE and 1000 BCE, there were significant migrations from the Central Asian Steppe that most likely brought Indo-European languages into India.
  • In other words, the paper supported the long-held idea of an ‘Arya’ migration into India.

The First Indians

  • The reference to the early hunter-gatherers of Southeast Asia is a reference to the Andamanese, whom the rest of the paper abbreviates as AHG or Andamanese Hunter Gatherers.
  • This is the same as the Ancient Ancestral South Indians (AASI) that the earlier paper talked about, or First Indians, which is the term used in my book, Early Indians.
  • The hunter-gatherers of Southeast Asia, AHG or First Indians — they all refer to the descendants of the Out of Africa migrants who reached India around 65,000 years ago.

Evolution of Indians

  • The primary source of ancestry for today’s South Asians is a mixture of First Indians and a people related to the hunter-gatherers of Iran.
  • This mixed population created the agricultural revolution in northwestern India and built the Harappan Civilisation that followed.
  • When the Harappan Civilisation declined after 2000 BCE due to a long drought, the Harappans moved south-eastwards (from northwestern India) to mix with other First Indians to form the Ancestral South Indian (ASI) population whose descendants live in south India today.
  • Around the same time, the Harappans also mixed with Steppe pastoralists who had by then migrated to north India through Central Asia, to form the Ancestral North Indian (ANI) population.
  • The Steppe ancestry of the people of both South Asia and Eastern Europe in the Bronze Age explains how the movements of the Central Asians between the two regions caused the well-known similarities between the Indo-Iranian and Balto-Slavic languages.

Dissenting ideas

  • The study by Pune based researchers is based on the ancient DNA of a woman who lived in the Harappan site of Rakhigarhi about 4,600 years ago.
  • It refuted Aryan migration theory.
  • However, it has always been understood that the Arya migration from the Steppe happened after 2000 BCE.
  • The absence of Steppe ancestry in a skeleton in Rakhigarhi from 2600 BCE is clear confirmation that the earlier understanding was correct, that the Arya were not present during the Harappan Civilization.
  • In other words, the Harappan Civilization was pre-Arya, and so was the language they spoke.

So what’s new?

  • A natural route for Indo-European languages to have spread into South Asia is from Eastern Europe via Central Asia in the first half of the 2nd millennium BCE.
  • The fact that Steppe pastoralist ancestry in South Asia matches that in Bronze Age Eastern Europe (but not Western Europe) provides additional evidence for this theory.
  • It elegantly explains the shared distinctive features of Balto-Slavic and Indo-Iranian languages.

Who were the Harappans then?

  • The Harappans who created the agricultural revolution in northwestern India and then built the Harappan civilization were a mix of First Indians and Iranians who spoke a pre-Arya language.
  • The Arya were central Asian Steppe pastoralists who arrived in India between roughly 2000 BCE and 1500 BCE, and brought Indo-European languages to the subcontinent.
  • The new study says the Iranians arrived in India before agriculture or even herding had begun anywhere in the world.
  • In other words, these migrants were likely to have been hunter-gatherers, which means they did not bring a knowledge of agriculture.

Also read

No Central Asian ancestry in Indus Valley Civilization

Sep, 12, 2019

Cryodrakon boreas: the largest flying animal


  • Scientists unveiled a new species of pterosaur, the plane-sized reptiles that lorded over primeval skies above T-rex, Triceratops and other dinosaurs of the late Cretaceous.

Cryodrakon boreas

  • With a wingspan of 10 m and weighing 250 kg, C. boreas rivals another pterosaur as the largest flying animal of all time.
  • It was identified as being distinct from Quetzalcoatlus the other giant pterosaur for which it was initially mistaken.
  • Its remains were first discovered more than 30 years ago in Alberta, Canada, yet elicited scant excitement because of the misclassification.
  • But a closer look at the fossil remains of a juvenile and the intact giant neck bone of a full-grown specimen left no doubt that a new species had been discovered.
  • Like other winged reptiles living at the same time, about 77 million years ago, C. boreas was carnivorous and probably fed on lizards, small mammals and even baby dinosaurs.
  • Despite a likely capacity to cross large bodies of water, the location of fossil remains and the animal’s features point to an inland habitat.

About Pterosaurs

  • They were flying reptiles of the extinct clade or order Pterosauria.
  • They existed during most of the Mesozoic: from the late Triassic to the end of the Cretaceous. Pterosaurs are the earliest vertebrates known to have evolved powered flight.
  • There are more than 100 known species of pterosaurs.
  • Despite their large size and wide distribution — across North and South America, Asia, Africa and Europe — only fragmentary remains have been unearthed, making the new find especially important.
Sep, 07, 2019

No Central Asian ancestry in Indus Valley Civilization



  • Throwing fresh light on the Indus Valley Civilization, a study of DNA from skeletal remains excavated from Rakhigarhi was recently conducted.
  • The study contends that the theory of the Harappans having Steppe pastoral or ancient Iranian farmer ancestry thus stands refuted.
  • Prior to the arrival of steppe pastoralists bringing their Indo-European languages about 4,000 years ago, we find no evidence of large-scale movements of people into South Asia.
  • It also concluded that the hunter-gatherers of South Asia, who then became a settled people, have an independent origin.

No Mass-migration of Aryans

  • The finding also negates the hypothesis about mass migration during Harappan times from outside South Asia.
  • Researchers successfully sequenced the first genome of an individual from Harappa and combining it with archaeological data.
  • It found that hunter-gatherers of South Asia had an independent origin, and authored the settled way of life in this part of the world.
  • They do not contain genome from either the Steppe region or ancient Iranian farmers.
  • The genetic continuity from hunter gatherer to modern times is visible in the DNA results.
  • The study finds that the same hunter-gatherer communities developed into agricultural communities and formed the Harappan civilization.

No migration from Central Asia

  • India had a heterogeneous population right from the beginning of settled life. There was a hint that settled life and domestication went from South Asia to West Asia.
  • The researchers also suggest that there was a movement of people from east to west as the Harappan people’s presence is evident at sites like Gonur in Turkmenistan and Sahr-i-Sokhta in Iran.
  • As the Harappans traded with Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Persian Gulf and almost all across South Asia, there was bound to be movement of people resulting in a mixed genetic history.

Origins of farming

  • The researchers concluded that farming in South Asia was not due to the movement of people from the farming cultures of the west and that local foragers adopted it.
  • In Europe, ancient-DNA studies have shown that agriculture tended to spread through an influx of people with ancestry in Anatolia, in modern day Turkey.
  • The new study shows a similar dynamic in Iran and Turan (southern Central Asia), where the researchers found that Anatolian-related ancestry and farming arrived around the same time.
  • In South Asia, however, the story appears quite different.
  • The researchers found an absence of Anatolian-related ancestry.
  • They saw that Iranian-related ancestry in South Asians comes from a lineage that separated from ancient Iranian farmers and hunter-gatherers before those groups split from each other, nearly 9,000 years ago.

Rakhigarhi- the epicenter

  • The discovery of two more mounds at the Harappan site of Rakhigarhi in Hisar district, Haryana, has led to archaeologists establishing it as the biggest Harappan civilisation site.
  • Until now, specialists in the Harappan civilisation had argued that Mohenjo-daro in Pakistan was the largest among the 2,000 Harappan sites known to exist in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
  • The archaeological remains at Mohenjo-daro extend around 300 hectares.
  • Mohenjo-daro, Harappa and Ganweriwala (all in Pakistan) and Rakhigarhi and Dholavira (both in India) are ranked as the first to the fifth biggest Harappan sites.


Aryan Invasion Theory

  • In 1953 Mortimer Wheeler proposed that the invasion of an Indo-European tribe from Central Asia, the “Aryans”, caused the decline of the Indus Civilization.
  • As evidence, he cited a group of 37 skeletons found in various parts of Mohenjo-daro, and passages in the Vedas referring to battles and forts.
  • However, scholars soon started to reject Wheeler’s theory, since the skeletons belonged to a period after the city’s abandonment and none were found near the citadel.
Sep, 02, 2019

The legacy of Firoz Shah, 14th-century ruler who built Kotla in Delhi


  • Delhi’s Feroz Shah Kotla stadium is set to be renamed Arun Jaitley Stadium after the former Finance Minister.
  • The stadium took its name from a 14th century fortress Firoz Shah Tughlaq.

Firoz Shah Tughlaq

  • Firoz Shah was a Turk ruler of the Tughlaq Dynasty, who reigned over the Sultanate of Delhi from 1351 to 1388.
  • He worked to improve the infrastructure of the empire building canals, rest-houses and hospitals, creating and refurbishing reservoirs and digging wells.
  • He founded several cities around Delhi, including Jaunpur, Firozpur, Hissar, Firozabad, Fatehabad.
  • He imposed Jizya tax on all non-Muslims and did not even exempt Brahmins and beggers as done by his predecessors.
  • He tried to ban practices that the orthodox theologians considered un-Islamic.

Notable works

  • He built Feroz Shah Kotla (kotla means fortress), peppered Delhi with gardens, constructed canals, hunting lodges, and repaired Qutub Minar, Hauz Khas (royal tank) and Surajkund (lake of the Sun).
  • Firoz Shah was the first ruler to build a fortress next to river Yamuna which was a quite an urban sprawl.
  • Emperor Ashoka’s pillar, erected near Ambala in 250 BC, was transported to Delhi and placed in Firozabad. Spear writes.
  • Firoz Shah did public construction activity on a massive scale. Welfare projects such as gardens, serai (inn), water supply were his priority.
  • By improving sources of water supply and irrigation facilities in Delhi and surrounding areas, he helped bring down the price of food grains too.
  • It’s a known fact that Haryana’s irrigation systems go back to his era.
  • The British called him the ‘father of the irrigation department’ because of the many gardens and canals that he built.

Repairing older structures

  • Apart from indulging in building his own structures, Firoz Shah “felt a sense of responsibility” towards old structures that needed repair, among which Qutub Minar, Huaz Khas and Surajkund stand out.
  • In his reign, an earthquake damaged the two top storeys of Qutub Minar. He repaired the Minar and added a little pavilion at the top.
  • In the late 18th century, however, during another round of repair, an engineer called Major Smith replaced it with his own pavilion.
  • Firoz Shah also repaired Hauz Khas, the royal tank built during Alauddin Khalji’s reign in the late 13th century.
Jul, 16, 2019

[pib] Museum Grant Scheme


Museum Grant Scheme

  • Ministry of Culture provides financial assistance under the Scheme to the State Governments and Societies, Autonomous bodies, Local Bodies and Trusts registered under the Societies Act, for setting up new Museums.
  • It aims to strengthen and modernize the existing museums at the Regional, State and District level.

Funding pattern

  • The maximum amount of financial assistance which may be given would be 80% of the total project cost.
  • In case of museums in North-Eastern region including Sikkim the financial assistance would be 90% of the total project cost.
  • The remaining amount i.e. 20% of the project cost (in case of North Eastern region, 10% of the project cost), will have to be borne by the organization.
  • The organization may arrange the balance amount either from its own resources or may receive assistance through Corporate Social Responsibility.
  • There is no condition in the scheme for receiving assistance through Corporate Social Responsibility.
Jun, 26, 2019

[pib] National Archives of India


  • National Archives of India has successfully digitized total 303 declassified files of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.

About National Archives of India

  • The National Archives of India is the custodian of the records of enduring value of the Government of India.
  • Established on 11 March, 1891 at Calcutta (Kolkata) as the Imperial Record Department, it is the biggest archival repository in South Asia.
  • It has a vast corpus of records viz., public records, private papers, oriental records, cartographic records and microfilms, which constitute an invaluable source of information for scholars-administrators and users of archives.
  • The holdings in the National Archives are in a regular series starting from the year 1748 and has 40kms of shelf space.
  • The Director General of Archives, heading the Department has been given the mandate for the implementation of the Public Records Act, 1993 and the rules made there under, the Public Records Rules, 1997 for the management, administration and preservation of public records.
Jun, 22, 2019

Sadikpur Sinauli site expected to get ‘national importance’ tag


  • Sadikpur Sinauli, an ancient site with chariots, swords and other objects pointing to the presence of a warrior class around 4,000 years ago could be declared a site of national importance soon.
  • Archaeological Survey of India declares monuments/sites as ‘protected and of national importance’ under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.

About Sadikpur Sinauli

  • Sinauli is an archaeological site located in Baraut tehsil, Baghpat district, western Uttar Pradesh, India.
  • The site is famous for its Bronze Age “chariots”, the first ones to be recovered in archaeological excavation in South Asia.
  • Local legends tell that Sinauli is one of the five villages that god Krishna unsuccessfully negotiated with the Kaurava princes to avoid the War at Kurukshetra.
  • The excavations were conducted by ASI in 2005-06 and in mid-2018.
  • As per ASI and later studies the remains found in 2005-06, the “Sanauli cemetery”, belonged to Late Harappan Phase.

Major findings

  • Major findings from 2018 trial excavations include several wooden coffin burials, “chariots”, copper swords, and helmets.
  • The wooden chariots – with solid disk wheels – were protected by copper sheets.
  • Among the treasures unearthed are three chariots, legged coffins, shields, swords and helmets – all which point towards a warrior class that must have existed around 2,000 BCE.
  • The site was the largest necropolis (cemetery) of the late Harappan period of the early 2nd millennium BCE.
May, 03, 2019

Rare life-size stucco figurine unearthed in Telangana


  • Archaeologists in Telangana have unearthed a rare treasure in the form of a life-sized stucco sculpture from a Buddhist site at Phanigiri.

What is stucco?

  • Stucco is a material made of aggregates, a binder, and water. Stucco is applied wet and hardens to a very dense solid.
  • It is used as a decorative coating for walls and ceilings, and as a sculptural and artistic material in architecture.
  • Stucco may be used to cover less visually appealing construction materials, such as metal, concrete, cinder block, or clay brick and adobe.

About the Bodhisattva statue

  • It is the biggest stucco sculpture found in the country so far.
  • The life-size figurine found in the excavations is thought to represent one of Bhodhisattva in Jathaka Chakra.
  • The stucco is about 1.73 metres in height and 35 cm in width, thus the biggest stucco sculpture found in the country so far
  • Apart from the life-sized stucco, these excavations brought to light a Mahastupa, apsidal chaitya grihas, votive stupas, pillared congregation halls, viharas, platforms with staircases at various levels.
  • It also had sculptural panels with Brahmi inscriptions, belonging to Satavahana period from first century BC, continued with Mahayana till the end of Ikshvaku period and others in third-fourth century AD.

About Ikshvaku Dynasty

  • The Ikshvaku dynasty, in Puranic literature, was a dynasty founded by the legendary king Ikshvaku. The dynasty is also known as Sūryavaṁśa (the Solar dynasty).
  • Lord Rama belonged to the Ikshavaku dynasty.
  • Twenty-two out of the twenty-four Jain Tirthankara belonged to this dynasty.
  • Rishabha is present in both Hindu as well as Jain mythology. Both refers to the same person.
  • According to the Buddhist texts, Prince Siddhartha belonged to this dynasty.
  • The Buddhist text, Mahavamsa traces the origin of the Shakyas to king Okkaka (Pali equivalent to Sanskrit Ikshvaku) and gives their genealogy from Mahasammata, an ancestor of Okkaka.
Apr, 08, 2019

Domkhar Rock Art Sanctuary


Domkhar Rock Art Sanctuary

  • The sanctuary is located at Domkhar village in Leh, next to the banks of Indus River. It has 500-odd petroglyphs.
  • These are numerous rocks carved figures, thought to date back between 2000 and 4000 years.
  • There are some dark and polished boulders that bear on their gleaming surface prehistoric carvings of men and beasts.
  • There are also rock carvings scattered along the 35 km stretch between Domkhar and Khalste village, but many have been damaged by human activity, especially road construction work, they tell me.
  • It consists of drawings of animals with horns, perhaps mountain goats; there’s one with a scorpion in the midst of a crowd of people; another shows a hunting scene.

Widely scattered

  • The archaic scripts on these rocks have been discovered to be similar to those found among the nomadic tribes of the steppe region of Central Asia who lived 2,000 years ago.
  • No one has been able to put an exact date to the carvings, but they are believed to be over two millennia old. They also shed some light on the pattern of human movement during that era.
  • Such petroglyphs are found scattered widely across Ladakh: some noteworthy places outside Domkhar are Tangtse, Khaltse, Kharu and Biama.
Mar, 12, 2019

Excavations in Kutch shed light on early Harappan custom


Mains Paper 1: Arts & Culture | All syllabus

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  Indus Valley civilization

Mains level: Various features of IVC


  • 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.

Burial Practices

  • The rectangular graves, each of varying dimensions and assembled using stones, contained skeletons that were placed in a specific manner.
  • They were oriented east-west with the heads positioned on the eastern side.
  • Next to the legs on the western side, the archaeologists found earthen pots and pottery shards and other artifacts, including conch-shell bangles, beads made of stones and terracotta, numerous lithic tools and grinding stones.
  • Of the 26 graves that were excavated, the biggest was 6.9 metres long and the smallest 1.2 metres long.
  • The skeletal remains of human beings in most of them were found to be disintegrated.
  • The presence of animal skeletons along with those of humans were also recorded in a few graves.
  • The skeletal remains will be sent to various laboratories to run tests to understand the age, gender, circumstances that could have led to the death and the salient features of the respective DNA.

What’s so special with it?

  • Interestingly, the researchers found the mode of burial to be non-uniform.
  • Instances of primary burial and secondary burial (when the remains of the primary burial are exhumed and moved to another grave) were found.
  • The researchers claimed that the mud pots bore similarities with those that were unearthed from other Harappan sites in Kot Diji, Amri and Nal in Pakistan and Surkotada and Dhaneti in Kutch.
  • This gives evidences to the trade network that could have existed during the early phase of the Harappan civilization from 3300 BCE to 2600 BCE.
Mar, 07, 2019

The Indian Museum of the Earth (TIME)


Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Achievement of Indians in science & technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: The Indian Museum of the Earth (TIME)

Mains level: India’s geological and paleontological evolution


  • 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.

India’s richness

  • India has a rich geological history and fossils dating back to the breaking up of the Gondwanaland super-continent nearly 150 million years ago.
  • Prominent fossils include the jaw of an extinct ape, Gigantopithecus bilaspurensi, dinosaur eggs so large they were mistaken for cannon balls, and the skeleton of a horned carnivore, Rajasaurus narmadensis, or the royal Narmada dinosaur.

Why need such museum?

  • India is home to a vast treasury of geological and palaeontological specimens that contain a wealth of scientific information about the planet and its history.
  • Several collections of fossils and important geological specimens weren’t properly organised, and they survived only due to the efforts of individual researchers who maintained them within their labs.
  • But these rare specimens are scattered in different labs all over the country.
  • India doesn’t have a single such museum of repute, or a repository where new finds may be compared to those already discovered.
Feb, 12, 2019

[pib] Reconstitution of Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: ICHR

Mains level: Better governance and management of historical research


  • 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

  1. The ICHR is an autonomous body of the HRD Ministry, which had been established by an Administrative Order of the then Ministry of Education.
  2. 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.
  3. ICHR disburses funds for carrying out research to Indian as well as foreign scholars on their applications for fellowships, grants, and symposia.


The objectives of the ICHR, as enunciated in the initial pamphlet published by the Department of Education, Government of India in 1972 are as under:

  • to bring historians together and provide a forum for exchange of views between them;
  • to give a national direction to an objective and scientific writing of history and to have rational presentation and interpretation of history;
  • to promote, accelerate and coordinate research in history with special emphasis on areas which have not received adequate attention so far;
  • to promote and coordinated a balanced distribution of research effort over different areas; and
  • to elicit support and recognition for historical research from all concerned and ensure the necessary dissemination and use of results


  • An eminent historian nominated by the Government of India shall be Chairman of the Council;
  • Eighteen historians nominated by the Government of India;
  • A Representative of the U.G.C;
  • Director-General of Archaeology;
  • Director, National Archives;
  • Four persons to represent Government who shall be nominated by the Government of India and which shall include one representative each of the Ministry of Education, the Department of Culture and the Ministry of Finance; and Member Secretary.
Jan, 10, 2019

What a Harappan grave says about marriage


Mains Paper 1: Arts & Culture | All syllabus

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  Indus Valley civilization sites

Mains level: Important historical findings related to IVC


  • A team of Indian and South Korean researchers have excavated the skeletal remains of the couple from a site where nine graves were unearthed in one trench.

What’s So Special?

  1. Except for the foot bones, the two skeletons have been found almost entirely intact.
  2. Of the 62 graves discovered in Rakhigarhi, only this one had more than one skeleton — and of individuals of the opposite sex, together.
  3. The researchers believe the couple was buried at almost the same time, perhaps even together, following their deaths which could have occurred about 4,700 years ago.
  4. They believe the male was around 38 years old at the time of his death, while the female was around 25.
  5. Most archaeological recoveries show individuals were buried separately in Harappan times.
  6. Joint graves have been very rare, and almost none have been found containing a couple.

Deductions made

Relationship Status

  1. In the present case the skeletal remains were found in a supine position (lying face upwards) with arms and legs extended.
  2. The head of the male was found facing towards the female’s, possibly indicating an intimate relationship.

Economic Status

  1. Remains of pots and stone-bead jewellery found close to the burial site of the couple point to the possibility of a ceremonial burial with rituals.
  2. These remains also suggest they belonged to a middle-class family.

Legal Acceptance of Marriage

  1. The Harappan people were generally known to strictly adhere to only legal relations, and the fact that the couple were buried in the same pit together could be an indication of societal acceptance of their relationship.
  2. The researchers were inclined to believe that they could have been married which would in turn suggest the possibility that the institution of marriage originated in the Harappan civilization.
  3. Excavations of cemeteries so far have found that graves of women were positioned in the centre of the cemetery, and surrounded with bangles, jewellery, and other ornaments.
  4. This could mean that the Harappan society gave a higher status to women.
  5. No lesions have been found on the bones the couple, leading researchers to rule out the possibility of their having been murdered.
  6. It is possible a heart ailment of some kind led to the deaths.

Most graves are of Men

  1. So far at Harappan sites, most graves have been that of men.
  2. Only 20% of graves are of women, while fewer than 1% are of children.
  3. This implies that the most men died during war.

Burial Patterns

  1. Broadly, three types of graves have been discovered at Harappan sites.
  2. In the most common type, known as the primary grave, archaeologists have found full-body remains of the person placed inside a pit.
  3. Secondary pits were those that contained partial remains of a few bones placed in the pit.
  4. In the third type of the grave, skeletal remains were completely missing in the burial pit.
  5. Instead, there were some accessories, presumably the belongings of the deceased person.
  6. Perhaps the body could not be ever retrieved, possibly in cases of deaths caused by wild animals or during wars.
Dec, 25, 2018

Buddhist site museum at Lalitgiri Odisha


Mains Paper 1: Arts and Culture | Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  Lalitgiri Museum, Diamond Triangle

Mains level: Buddhist Architecture


  • 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

  1. Located in Cuttack district, it will be the third site museum of the Bhubaneswar circle of the ASI after Ratnagiri and Udaygiri.
  2. The three sites together form the Diamond Triangle of Buddhism in Odisha.
  3. 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

  1. Excavations at Lalitgiri have yielded the remains of four monasteries, showing cultural continuity from the post-Mauryan period till the 13th century CE.
  2. Tantric Buddhism was practiced at this site.
  3. The centre of attraction is a relic casket containing corporal remains found inside the Mahastupta.
  4. Huge sculptures of Buddha, architectural fragments of Viharas and Chaityas are arranged period-wise.
  5. The central gallery is designed after a Buddha Mandala with a colossal Buddha image at the centre and six Bodhisattva images surrounding it.
Oct, 26, 2018

[op-ed snap] Retrieving the spoils of colonialism


Mains Paper 1: History | All syllabus

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Anglo-Sikh war

Mains level: The longstanding demand of bringing historical artefacts back from British and how to achieve that


History & national pride

  1. National and cultural pride and the ambiguities of history are a tricky combination
  2. The question of whether treasures and artefacts taken by colonial and conquering powers should be restored to their countries of origin raises hackles
  3. The issue has gained in prominence over the past few years

Demand for bringing Kohinoor back

  1. The Kohinoor has become in the lapse of ages a sort of historical emblem of the conquest of India
  2. The Archaeological Survey of India in response to a right to information request noted earlier this month that the Kohinoor was “surrendered” and not “handed over”

The history of Kohinoor

  1. The Second Anglo-Sikh War had ended in all but name less than a month previously on 12 March 1849
  2. The Sikh empire had been dismantled within a decade of its creator Ranjit Singh’s death
  3. At the end of March, his 10-year-old son and nominal ruler of the empire, Duleep Singh, had signed the Treaty of Lahore with the victors, the British East India Co
  4. He had ceded all claim to Punjab and surrendered the Kohinoor to the queen of England

International practise of bringing artefacts back

  1. Since the turn of the millennium, Chinese billionaires have been on a spree of acquiring China’s plundered artefacts
  2. Greece has battled for decades for the return of the Parthenon frieze from the British museum—part of the Parthenon Marbles taken from Greece at the beginning of the 19th century by Thomas Bruce, the Earl of Elgin
  3. Egypt has pushed for the return of Nefertiti’s bust, and Nigeria for the Benin Bronzes

Response of European nations to such claims

  1. Earlier this year, French President Emmanuel Macron stated his wish to return looted treasures to former French colonies in Africa
  2. Germany has come up with a code of conduct for museums that includes how to deal with restitution claims

Opportunity for India

  1. With the economic rise of erstwhile subjects has come assertion and redressing historical humiliation is a means of such assertion
  2. New Delhi and Indian museums should take advantage of the turn in public opinion to work with European institutions for repatriation in cases where the evidence is clear

Watch this fantastic video by Mr Shashi Tharoor (Member of Parliament) on understanding India’s demands for reparation from British in a better way:

Oct, 22, 2018

[op-ed snap] Time to hew a new antiquities law


Mains Paper 1: Arts & Culture | All syllabus

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Need for a new legislation governing the collection of historical artefacts in India in order to preserve Indian heritage


Present legislation for protecting heritage

  1. The Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, 1972 has consequently long outlived the purpose for which it was drafted
  2. The laws that consequently govern the ownership of historical objects, their purchase and sale have, with increasing frequency, been a disincentive for the average collector
  3. Registering antiquities with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has long been a cumbersome and difficult procedure for most collectors, with the state simply not equipped to handle the needs of a growing populace of collectors
  4. Compounding this is the rule that every object over a 100 years is an antique

What will such regulations lead to?

  1. With every passing year, the number of objects that shift from 99th year to a 100-year status will soon result in the transfer of vast numbers of objects to a status of national antiquity
  2. To ascribe importance by virtue of religious sentiment, age or provenance (seldom proven) to every significant and insignificant work of art will sound the death knell for the scholarship or our understanding of what constitutes a beautiful work of art or even a significant national treasure worthy of appreciation
  3.  To promote a view that once sacred objects today only belong to temples and thus deny the process of regeneration of these living cultural sites is a myopic view stemming from a lack of understanding of the role and purpose of these objects, the temple economy that maintained them, and also the constant process of renewal that occurred within historic sites

Misconceptions regarding antiquity collection

  1. The prevalent assumption that is constantly alluded to is that every object held by an institution or a collector must have been surreptitiously removed from a shrine or a sacred site
  2.  If, as is being presumed, every object in a private collection is the result of temple desecration and robbery, then what of objects that have been registered under similar norms across all our public institutions?
  3. Is the government of India ready to repatriate the several idols in its various collections
  4. Vigilante movements claim temple robbery provenance without a shred of proof, emerging as a bullying tactic and becoming the dominant narrative on artefact ownership
  5. These movements neither follow the rule of law nor do they respect the ASI’s time-honoured process of registration of such artefacts

Way forward

  1. To hold public institutions to one standard and private collectors to another is just one of the several anomalies of the current narrative
  2. The framing of our laws has not happened in conjunction with time. This is because, at the time of law framing, the agenda was to preserve India’s material culture which was then under threat much like the material heritage of several source countries across the world was
  3. To hang onto this view in today’s age is destructive as can be seen from the fate of antique collecting across India
  4. An urgent amendment to existing laws is a need of the hour to save our material culture from being examined purely from the prism of religious sentiment and to foster the creation of secular spaces where everyone can enjoy and appreciate our past
Oct, 19, 2018

Ancient rocks in India give clues to early life


Mains Paper 1: Geography | Salient features of world’s physical geography

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Biomarkers

Mains level: Geological era’s of Earth and their important features


Cambrian Explosion

  1. It refers to the sudden appearance in the fossil record of complex animals with mineralized skeletal remains 541 million years ago.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Biomarkers: Clues of early life

  1. The research looked for distinctive and stable biomarkers that indicate the existence of sponges and other early animals, rather than single-celled organisms that dominated the earth for billions of years.
  2. The biomarker identified, a steroid compound named 26-methylstigmastane (26-mes), has a unique structure that is currently only known to be synthesized by certain species of modern sponges called demosponges.
  3. This is the first evidence that demosponges, and hence multicellular animals, were thriving in ancient seas at least as far back as 635 million years ago.
  4. This adds among the earliest forms of animal life existed in that period.



  1. A sponge is a member of the phylum Porifera.
  2. It is a simple marine animal with many cells, but no mouth, muscles, heart or brain.
  3. Demosponges is a class that contains most of the sponges.
  4. The sponges in this class make their skeleton from Spongin, a special protein.
Jul, 05, 2018

Thanjavur Paintings


From UPSC perspectives, following things are important.

Prelims Level: Particulars of the Thanjavur Painting

Mains Level: Not Much


Thanjavur Paintings

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. It is distinguished by its famous gold coating.
  4. However, it can safely be surmised that Thanjavur painting, as we know it now, originated in the Maratha court of Thanjavur (1676 – 1855).
  5. It has been recognized as a Geographical indication by the Government of India in 2007-08.

The specialty of Thanjavur Painting

  1. Thanjavur paintings are characterised by rich, flat and vivid colors, simple iconic composition, glittering gold foils overlaid on delicate but extensive gesso work and inlay of glass beads and pieces or very rarely precious and semi-precious gems.
  2. In Thanjavur paintings one can see the influence of Deccani, Vijayanagar, Maratha and even European or Company styles of painting.
  3. Essentially serving as devotional icons, the subjects of most paintings are Hindu gods, goddesses, and saints.
  4. Episodes from Hindu Puranas, Sthala-puranas and other religious texts were visualised, sketched or traced and painted with the main figure or figures placed in the central section of the picture.
  5. It is surrounded by several subsidiary figures, themes and subjects.
  6. There are also many instances when Jain, Sikh, Muslim, other religious and even secular subjects were depicted in Tanjore paintings.
Jul, 02, 2018

[pib] India gets its 37th UNESCO World Heritage Site


Mains Paper 1: Arts and Culture| Salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Intangible Cultural Heritage, UNESCO

Mains level: India’s rich cultural treasure and ways to preserve it


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

About the Ensembles

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. The 19th century Victorian buildings form part of the larger Fort precinct situated to the east of the Oval Maidan.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Criteria for Inscription:

  1. The inscription has been done under Criteria (ii) and (iv) as defined in the UNESCO’s Operational Guidelines.
  2. Criterion (ii) refers to the important interchange of human values, over a span of time on development of architecture, monumental arts, town planning and landscape.
  3. Criterion (iv) refers to being an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates a significant stage (s) in human history.

UNESCO World Heritage Properties in India

  1. In the past 5 years alone, India has managed to get inscribed seven of its properties/sites on the World Heritage List of UNESCO.
  2. India now has overall 37 World Heritage Inscriptions with 29 Cultural, 07 Natural and 01 Mixed sites.
  3. 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.

Benefits of this International Recognition

This achievement is expected to give a tremendous fillip to domestic and international tourism leading to increased employment generation, creation of world-class infrastructure and augmentation of sale of local handicrafts, handlooms and heritage memorabilia.



  1. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) based in Paris.
  2. Its declared purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through educational, scientific, and cultural reforms etc.
  3. UNESCO implements its activities through the five programme areas: education, natural sciences, social and human sciences, culture, and communication and information.
  4. It designates projects and places of cultural and scientific significance, such as:
  • Global Geoparks Network
  • Biosphere reserves (Programme on Man and the Biosphere (MAB), since 1971)
  • City of Literature
  • Endangered languages and linguistic diversity projects
  • Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity
  • Memory of the World International Register, since 1997
  • Water resources management (International Hydrological Programme (IHP), since 1965)
  • World Heritage sites
  • World Digital Library

UNESCO World Heritage Committee

  1. The World Heritage Committee selects the sites to be listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the World Heritage List and the List of World Heritage in Danger.
  2. It monitors the state of conservation of the World Heritage properties, defines the use of the World Heritage Fund and allocates financial assistance upon requests from States Parties.
  3. It is composed of 21 states parties that are elected by the General Assembly of States Parties for a four-year term.
  4. India is NOT a member of this Committee.
  5. Recently, its 42nd meeting in 2018 was held in Manama Bahrain.
Jun, 09, 2018

Archaeologists find pre-Columbian mass child sacrifice site in Peru

This June 8, 2018 picture shows the ongoing excavation at the “huaca” (temple), where a group of archaeologists has discovered the remains of over fifty children presumably sacrificed in a ritual of the pre-Columbian Chimu culture (900 AD to 1470 AD), on the northern coast of Peru in the district of Huanchaco, province of Trujillo.


Mains Paper 1: History | All syllabus

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Pre-Columbian Chimu culture

Mains level: Various civilizations across the world and their unique features


Pre Columbian remains

  1. 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
  2. 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

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


Pre-Columbian Chimu culture

  1. 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
  2. The culture arose about 900 AD, succeeding the Moche culture
  3. 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)
  4. The pottery is often in the shape of a creature or has a human figure sitting or standing on a cuboid bottle
Jun, 07, 2018

Chalukyan sculpture of Siva found in Andhra Pradesh


Mains Paper 1: Arts and Culture | Salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Every bit of Chalukyan Arts and Architecture

Mains level: Salient features of temple architecture in Chalukyan Empire.


Sandstone sculpture shows Siva as a physician

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Siva was fairly represented in sculptural art of ancient India in many forms right from the Indus Valley civilization to the late medieval period.

Iconographic form

  1. Such a highly exceptional iconographic form of Lord Siva had not been discovered so far.
  2. The sculpture belongs to early 7th century Chalukyan School of Art.
  3. The vertical stone slab prominently illustrates Siva and Parvati. The Lord is gracefully seated on a pedestal with the left leg on the seat, the other with knee bent and resting on the ground.
  4. Two locks of hair falling over his shoulders, he wears neatly entangled hair with a protrusion over the left of his head and knotted in a mountain dweller fashion.


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.
Apr, 28, 2018

[pib] ‘Adopt a Heritage’ scheme


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Adopt a Heritage scheme, Monument Mitra

Mains level: Controversy related to privatization of historical sites


  • Adopt a Heritage: Apni Dharohar, Apni Pehchaan”, is a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Culture and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), and State/UTs Governments. 
  • The Project aims to develop synergy among all partners to effectively promote “responsible tourism”.
  • It aims to involve public sector companies, private sector companies and corporate citizens/individuals to take up the responsibility for making our heritage and tourism more sustainable through development, operation and maintenance of world-class tourist infrastructure and amenities at ASI/ State heritage sites and other important tourist sites in India.
  • The project primarily focusses on providing basic amenities that includes cleanliness, public conveniences, drinking water, ease of access for differently abled and senior citizens, standardized signage..
  • Under the project a total of 31 agencies, (referred as Monument Mitras) have been approved, so far, to adopt a total of 95 Monuments/ tourist sites located across India.
  • ‘The Adopt a Heritage’ is essentially a non-revenue generating project
  • It is part of responsible tourism where the ‘Monument Mitra’ essentially spends his CSR funds for upkeep and maintenance etc., and gets limited visibility. 

The priority areas of Programme are:

  • Developing basic tourism infrastructure;
  • Promoting cultural and heritage value of the country to generate livelihoods in the identified regions;
  • Enhancing the tourist attractiveness in a sustainable manner by developing world-class infrastructure at the heritage monument sites;
  • Creating employment through active involvement of local communities;
  • Harnessing tourism potential for its effects in employment generation and economic development;
  • Developing sustainable tourism infrastructure and ensuring proper Operations and Maintenance therein.
Apr, 20, 2018

Pre-historic rock art site unearthed in Guntur

Image source


Mains Paper 1: Arts & Culture | All syllabus

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Neolithic civilisation, Buddhism

Mains level: Discoveries related to ancient civilisations and unique features associated with them


Neolithic civilisation evidence

  1. A pre-historic rock art site discovered in the vast expanse of limestone blocks has thrown light on the Neolithic civilisation that flourished in Guntur during 1500-2000 BC
  2. The rock art site on natural limestone is the first of its kind in the country

Importance of the site & region

  1. The motifs in the form of engraving, pecking and brushing throw fascinating insights into the social and cultural practices of ancient civilisations
  2. The region in later years was also synonymous with the flourishing of Buddhism
  3. A stupa established on the pre-historic rock art site during 1-2 BC was also unearthed here
Apr, 11, 2018

Rare dance panel of Nayak period found near Tiruchi

Image source


Mains Paper 1: Arts & Culture | All syllabus

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Nayak period, Chola period, Silappathikaram

Mains level: Chola architecture and details related to it


Dance panel of Nayak period

  1. A rare dance panel of Nayak period and an inscribed pillar of Chola period have been found on an abandoned brick mound at Pathalapettai near Kiliyur in Tiruchi
  2. It bears a Tamil inscription of Chola paleography with a few Grantha letters

Authenticity of the findings

  1. Silappathikaram (famous literary work) has references to such ritualistic performances by rural folks
  2. The inscription records that a certain Rejaladeviyar Sativinjey, queen of Iladevayan, had gifted that pillar
Apr, 02, 2018

[pib] Six monuments / historical sites in North Eastern States identified for listing under World Heritage Site


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: World Heritage Site

Mains level: India’s heritage monuments and their conservation


As many as 6 monuments/historical sites in the North Eastern states have been identified tentatively for listing under World Heritage Site.

 Details of monuments/sites identified/placed under tentative list for listing under world heritage in the north eastern states are given below:

  • Apatani Cultural Landscape, Arunachal Pradesh
  • Iconic Saree Weaving Clusters of India
  • Moidams – the Mound – Burial System of the Ahom Dynasty, Assam
  • Namdapha National Park, Arunachal Pradesh
  • River Island of Majuli in midstream of Brahmaputra River in Assam
  • Thembang Fortified Village, Arunachal Pradesh

A total of 83 monuments/sites of the North-Eastern States are centrally protected under the Archaeological Survey of India.

Mar, 22, 2018

New stats model puts age of Dravidian languages at 4,500


Mains Paper 1: Arts & Culture | All syllabus

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Dravidian languages

Mains level: Debate whether Indo-Aryans were the earliest or dravidians


Linguistic analysis for Dravidian languages

  1. A new linguistic analysis has used advanced statistical methods to infer that the origin of the Dravidian language family can be dated to about 4,500 years ago
  2. This estimate is in line with suggestions from previous linguistic studies, and inferences from archaeology

Dravidian languages

  1. The Dravidian languages consist of about 80 varieties spoken by 220 million people in southern and central India, and neighboring countries
  2. The four largest Dravidian languages —Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu — have literary traditions spanning centuries, of which Tamil reaches back the furthest

Why the study of Dravidian languages?

  1. The study of the Dravidian languages is crucial for understanding prehistory in Eurasia, as they played a significant role in influencing other language groups
  2. Dravidians are natives of the Indian subcontinent and were present prior to the arrival of the Indo-Aryans in India around 3,500 years ago
  3. It is likely that the Dravidian languages were much more widespread to the west in the past than they are today
  4. The study will help investigate the interactions between these people and other cultural groups in the area such as Indo-European and Austro-Asiatic on one of the great crossroads of human prehistory
Mar, 19, 2018

Bilaspur’s stone age tools link Sivalik cultures

Image source


Mains Paper 1: History | All syllabus

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Anthropological Survey of India, Acheulian, Soanian & Paleolithic stone age, Sivapithecus

Mains level: Prehistoric era and findings related to it


Acheulian artifacts found

  1. Researchers from the Anthropological Survey of India (AnSI) have discovered a number of Acheulian artifacts (dated to about 1, 500,000–1,50,000 years ago) along with contemporary Soanian ones
  2. These were found from an unexplored site at Ghumarwin in Bilaspur district of Himachal Pradesh
  3. The site is close to the site where scientists in the 19th century discovered fossil remains of Sivapithecus, the last common ancestor of orangutans and humans

Significance of discovery

  1. The discovery of stone tools belonging to the Acheulian age in a region known to have rich evidence of the Soanian period presents the possibility of continuity of the two stone age cultures at the site
  2. Present Acheulian discovery from the unexplored site at Ghumarwin indicates that the river Sutlej and its tributaries have been a prehistoric corridor for the peninsular Acheulian man into the Sivalik region

Other Acheulian sites

  1. The oldest dated Acheulian sites in India are those at Attirampakkam in Tamil Nadu, dating to 1.5 million years ago
  2. Recent assessments of the South Asian Paleolithic (stone age culture) records have suggested that most Soanian assemblages are younger than Acheulian evidence in the Sivalik region
  3. According to experts, the Soanian stone age cultures date to 600 ka (about 6,00,000) years ago


Anthropological Survey of India

  1. Anthropological Survey of India (AnSI) is the apex Indian organization involved in anthropological studies and field data research for human and cultural aspects
  2. It is working primarily in the fields of physical anthropology and cultural anthropology
  3. While maintaining a strong focus on indigenous populations, it also attempts to document the cultures of other communities and religious groups
  4. It operates under the Ministry of Culture, Government of India
Feb, 16, 2018

Now, smart museums to give ‘virtual’ tours and 3D view of rare artifacts


Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | developments & their applications & effects in everyday life

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Jatan, Darshak, CDAC

Mains level: Developments in IT and their use in unprecedented areas


3D technology to revolutionise museum experience

  1. A team of experts of the human-centred design and computing team of the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), Pune, has developed a software named “Jatan
  2. The latest technology will help “online” visitors get a 3-Dimensional (3D) view of hundreds of artefacts displayed in at least 10 museums
  3. It will be possible to take a visual tour of at least 10 museums

Similar on-site initiative

  1. The group has also developed “Darshak”, a mobile-based application
  2. It allows real-time museum visitors gather all details about objects or artefacts simply by scanning a QR code placed near the object
  3. The app is aimed at improving the museum visit experience among the differently-abled


Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC)

  1. C-DAC is the premier R&D organization of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) for carrying out R&D in IT, Electronics and associated areas
  2. The setting up of C-DAC in 1988 was to built Supercomputers in context of denial of import of Supercomputers by the USA
  3. Since then C-DAC has been undertaking to build multiple generations of Supercomputer starting from PARAM with 1 GF in 1988
  4. C-DAC had also started building Indian Language Computing Solutions with setting up of GIST group (Graphics and Intelligence based Script Technology)
Feb, 05, 2018

Massive Mayan ruins found in Guatemala

Image source


Mains Paper 1: History | All syllabus

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Mayan civilization, LiDAR

Mains level: Various historic civilizations across world and common features across all of them


Mayan heritage found

  1. Researchers have found tens of thousands of previously undetected Mayan houses, buildings, defence works and pyramids in the dense jungle of Guatemala’s Peten region
  2. This was done using a high-tech aerial mapping technique called LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging)


  1. The study estimates that roughly 10 million people may have lived in the Maya Lowlands
  2. The images revealed that the Mayans altered the landscape in a much broader way than previously thought
  3. Their agriculture was much more intensive and therefore sustainable
  4. The extensive defensive fences, ditch-and-rampart systems and irrigation canals suggest a highly organized workforce
  5. There was state involvement here as large canals were being dug that re-directed natural water flows


LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging)

  1. It is a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges (variable distances) to the Earth
  2. It bounces pulsed laser light off the ground, revealing contours hidden by dense foliage
  3. These light pulses—combined with other data recorded by the airborne system— generate precise, three-dimensional information about the shape of the Earth and its surface characteristics
  4. LIDAR systems allow scientists and mapping professionals to examine both natural and manmade environments with accuracy, precision, and flexibility
  5. A LIDAR instrument principally consists of a laser, a scanner, and a specialized GPS receiver
  6. Airplanes and helicopters are the most commonly used platforms for acquiring LIDAR data over broad areas
Feb, 05, 2018

Pre-Christian era artefacts unearthed in Odisha


Mains Paper 1: History | All syllabus

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Archaeological Survey of India, pre-Christian era civilizations

Mains level: Various civilizations that thrived in Indian subcontinent and their unique features


Ancient artefacts found

  1. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has discovered pottery pieces, and tools made of stones and bones from a mound in Jalalpur village of Cuttack district
  2. These are believed to be of the pre-Christian era

What does this signify?

  1. Discoveries of ancient artefacts indicate that a rural settlement might have thrived in that period
  2. A continuity has been found in the progress of rural culture from a pre-historic era
  3. Rich materials found from excavation sites indicate that the people had a subsistence economy and they largely relied on agriculture, fishing and hunting
  4. Discovery of tortoiseshell, dolphin and shark teeth and fish bones indicated that the settlement could have been closer to the sea coast
  5. Some rice grains have also been detected
  6. The people here could not have lived in isolation and they could have had cultural and trade ties with other settlements in the Prachi Valley that had come up around the Prachi river
Feb, 01, 2018

‘Indus script was written from right to left’

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Mains Paper 1: Arts & Culture | All syllabus

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Indus script, Indus Valley civilization

Mains level: Important historical findings related to various civilizations


Findings of Indus script

  1. Two scientists working at The Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai, (IMSc) have figured out a way to computationally estimate whether a language is written from left to right or otherwise
  2. They have studied the Indus script and calculated that it must flow from right to left

Previous observations related to script

  1. Professor Iravatham Mahadevan (a well-known Indus scholar) had figured out that the Indus script ran from right to left
  2. He did so by observing that the writing got a little cramped as it ran towards the left
  3. This might be due to fact that the writer started writing at the right end and ended up running out of space as he or she reached the left end
Jan, 15, 2018

Delhi’s Teen Murti Chowk renamed Teen Murti Haifa Chowk for Bejnamin Netanyahu’s visit

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Mains Paper 1: History | All syllabus

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: World War I, Battle of Haifa

Mains level: Important events related to world history


Symbolic gesture of friendship with Israel

  1. India renamed the iconic Teen Murti Chowk, a war memorial as Teen Murti Haifa Chowk
  2. This was done as a symbolic gesture of friendship with Israel

Haifa and its importance in history

  1. 2018 marks a centenary of the end of the World War I and the Battle of Haifa
  2. The victorious operation by the Indian soldiers carried out on 23 September 1918 targeted the fortification of the city of Haifa which was then controlled by a joint Ottoman, German and Austro-Hungarian force
  3. The Indian soldiers fighting for the Allied Powers captured Haifa and cleared a crucial route for the Allies
  4. The liberation of Haifa cleared a supply route for the Allies to the city through the sea
Jan, 03, 2018

How a British war memorial became a symbol of Dalit pride

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Mains Paper 1: History | All syllabus

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Koregaon Ranstambh, Third Anglo-Maratha War, third battle of Panipat, the battle of Kharda, Peshwa Bajirao I & II

Mains level: Suppression of Dalits in society prevailing till date and how to stop it


Koregaon memorial

  1. The Koregaon Ranstambh (victory pillar) is an obelisk in Bhima-Koregaon village commemorating the British East India Company soldiers who fell in a battle on January 1, 1818
  2. In the battle, the British, with just 834 infantrymen — about 500 of them from the Mahar community — and 12 officers defeated the 28,000-strong army of Peshwa Bajirao II
  3. It was one of the last battles of the Third Anglo-Maratha War, which ended the Peshwa domination

How is it a symbol of Dalit pride?

  1. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s visit to the site on January 1, 1927, revitalized the memory of the battle for the Dalit community, making it a rallying point and an assertion of pride
  2. One part of the tradition is that several retired officers of the Mahar Regiment come to do homage to this exploit of valor

Rift between Dalit and right-wing organizations

  1. This year, the Elgaar (battle-cry) Parishad, an event celebrating the bicentenary of the battle irked some right-wing Hindutva and Brahmin organizations
  2. The right-wing organizations demanded that the city police prohibit event staging at the Shaniwarwada Fort, the erstwhile seat of Peshwa power

The Dalit–Maratha rift

  1. Relations between the Mahars and the Peshwas, who were Brahmins, grew strained after the death of Baji Rao I in 1740
  2. It reached the nadir during the reign of Bajirao Rao II, who insulted the Mahar community and spurned their offer of service with his army
  3. This caused Dalits to side with the English against the Peshwa’s numerically superior army
  4. Historical records document Mahars fighting in the Maratha army since the times of Shivaji, and even fighting alongside the Peshwa’s forces, including in the third battle of Panipat and the battle of Kharda
  5. Some accounts say that Govind Ganapat Gaikwad, a Mahar, performed the final rites of Sambhaji (Shivaji’s son) after he was tortured to death and hacked to pieces on Aurangzeb’s orders in 1689
Dec, 09, 2017

Burial urn, pots unearthed in Pallavaram

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Mains Paper 1: Arts & Culture | All syllabus

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Mudhumakkal thazhi

Mains level: Sangam period in south Indian history


2,000 years old artefacts found

  1. A six-foot-high burial urn, mudhumakkal thazhi, made of clay, and pieces of pots were unearthed at Old Pallavaram
  2. The artefacts are estimated to be around 2,000 years old

About the urn

  1. The history of mudhumakkal thazhi goes back to over 3,000 years
  2. It was an ancient Tamil practice to make huge earthen pots to bury people


Sangam Period in South Indian History: Megalithic burial sites in Tamilakam

  1. Iron age in India is referred to as Megalithic age
  2. According to Champakalakhmi, the Sangam period forms the last phase of the megalithic period in Tamilakam
  3. The Sangam community (megalithic community) was forming part of their tank irrigated agriculture, permanent agricultural settlements, their chieftains (velir), kings, and the peasantry (velala)
  4. They also mastered in pottery techniques
  5. The people of the iron age practiced certain customary burial (megalithic) patterns
  6. There are two categories of megalithic structures: I. “Monolithic Burial Sites and Monuments” and the II. “Urn Burials”
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