Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

What is Vishnuonyx?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Vishnuonyx neptuni

Mains level : NA

Between 12.5 million and 14 million years ago, members of a genus of otters called Vishnuonyx lived in the major rivers of southern Asia.

Vishnuonyx neptuni

  • Vishnuonyx were mid-sized predators that weighed, on average, 10-15 kg.
  • Before this, the genus was known only in Asia and Africa (recent findings show that Vishnuonyx reached East Africa about 12 million years ago, according to the release).
  • Vishnuonyx depended on water and could not travel long distances over land.

Why in news?

  • German researchers have discovered the fossil of a previously unknown species, which they have named Vishnuonyx neptuni, meaning ‘Neptune’s Vishnu’.
  • Fossils of these now extinct otters were first discovered in sediments found in the foothills of the Himalayas.
  • Now, a newly found fossil indicates it had travelled as far as Germany. ‘
  • The dispersal of Vishnuonyx otters from the Indian subcontinent to Africa and Europe about 13 million years ago. ‘
  • This is the first discovery of any member of the Vishnuonyx genus in Europe; it is also its most northern and western record till date.

How did it travel as far as Europe?

  • According to the researchers, its travels over 6,000 km were probably made possible by the geography of 12 million years ago, when the Alps were recently formed.
  • These Alps and the Iranian Elbrus Mountains were separated by a large ocean basin, which would have made it easier for the otters to cross it.
  • Researchers believe ‘Neptune’s Vishnu’ first reached southern Germany, followed by Ancient Guenz and eventually, the Hammerschmiede.

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Gupta Era Temple uncovered in UP

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Shankhlipi Script, Gupta Period

Mains level : Zenith of arts and cultural development during Gupta Period

Last week, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) discovered remains of an ancient temple dating back to the Gupta period (5th century) in a village in Uttar Pradesh’s Etah district.

Findings of the excavation

  • The Bilsarh site was declared ‘protected’ in 1928.
  • Every year, the ASI undertakes scrubbing work at the protected sites.
  • This year, the team discovered two decorative pillars close to one another, with human figurines resembling an ancient temple.
  • The stairs of the temple had ‘shankhalipi’ inscriptions, which were deciphered by the archaeologists as saying, ‘Sri Mahendraditya’, the title of Kumaragupta I of the Gupta dynasty.

You will find tons of PYQs on Gupta Period. Try this recent one:

Q. With reference to the period of Gupta dynasty in ancient India, the towns Ghantasala, Kadura and Chaula were well known as:

(a) ports handling foreign trade

(b) capitals of powerful kingdoms

(c) places of exquisite stone art and architecture

(d) important Buddhist pilgrimage centres

 

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Who was Kumaragupta I?

  • Kumaragupta I was an emperor of the Gupta Empire of Ancient India.
  • A son of the Gupta emperor Chandragupta II and queen Dhruvadevi, he seems to have maintained control of his inherited territory, which extended from Gujarat in the west to Bengal region in the east.
  • In the 5th century, Kumaragupta I ruled for 40 years over north-central India.
  • Skandagupta, son and successor of Kumaragupta I is generally considered to be the last of the great Gupta rulers.
  • He assumed the titles of Vikramaditya and Kramaditya.

What is the Shankhalipi script?

  • Shankhalipi or “shell-script” is a term used by scholars to describe ornate spiral characters assumed to be Brahmi derivatives that look like conch shells or shankhas.
  • They are found in inscriptions across north-central India and date to between the 4th and 8th centuries.
  • Both Shankhalipi and Brahmi are stylised scripts used primarily for names and signatures.
  • The inscriptions consist of a small number of characters, suggesting that the shell inscriptions are names or auspicious symbols or a combination of the two.

Chronology and meaning

  • The script was discovered in 1836 on a brass trident in Uttarakhand’s Barahat by English scholar James Prinsep, who was the founding editor of the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal.
  • A year later, he came across two more similar scripts at Nagarjuna group of caves in the Barabar Hills near Gaya.
  • Prominent sites with shell inscriptions include the Mundeshwari Temple in Bihar, the Udayagiri Caves in Madhya Pradesh, Mansar in Maharashtra and some of the cave sites of Gujarat and Maharashtra.
  • In fact, shell inscriptions are also reported in Indonesia’s Java and Borneo.
  • Scholars have tried to decipher shell script but have not been successful.

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Back2Basics: Gupta Empire

  • The Gupta Empire was an ancient Indian empire which existed from the early 4th century CE to late 6th century CE.
  • This period is considered as the Golden Age of India by historians.
  • The ruling dynasty of the empire was founded by the king Sri Gupta; the most notable rulers of the dynasty were Chandragupta I, Samudragupta, and Chandragupta II alias Vikramaditya.
  • The 5th-century CE Sanskrit poet Kalidasa credits the Guptas with having conquered about twenty-one kingdoms, both in and outside India, including the kingdoms of Parasikas, the Hunas, the Kambojas, tribes located in the west and east Oxus valleys, the Kinnaras, Kiratas, and others.
  • Many of the literary sources, such as Mahabharata and Ramayana, were canonized during this period.
  • The Gupta period produced scholars such as Kalidasa, Aryabhata, Varahamihira, and Vatsyayana who made great advancements in many academic fields.

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[pib] Hybodont Shark fossils found in Jaisalmer

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Hybodont Shark

Mains level : Not Much

In a rare discovery, teeth of new species of Hybodont shark of Jurassic age have been reported for the first time from Jaisalmer by a team of officers from the Geological Survey of India (GSI).

Hybodont Shark

  • Hybodonts, an extinct group of sharks, was a dominant group of fishes in both marine and fluvial environments during the Triassic and early Jurassic time.
  • However, hybodont sharks started to decline in marine environments from the Middle Jurassic onwards until they formed a relatively minor component of open-marine shark assemblages.
  • They finally became extinct at the end of the Cretaceous time 65 million years ago.

Significance of the fossil

  • The newly discovered crushing teeth from Jaisalmer represents a new species named by the research team as Strophodusjaisalmerensis.
  • These sharks have been reported for the first time from the Jurassic rocks (approximately, between 160 and 168 million years old) of the Jaisalmer region of Rajasthan.
  • The genus Strophodus has been identified for the first time from the Indian subcontinent and is only the third such record from Asia, the other two being from Japan and Thailand.
  • It opens a new window for further research in the domain of vertebrate fossils.

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Back2Basics: Geological time-scale

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Thamirabarani Civilization is 3200 years old

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Thamirabarani Civilization

Mains level : Ancient Indian Civilizations

 

A carbon dating analysis of rice with soil, found in a burial urn at Sivakalai in Thoothukudi district of Tamil Nadu has yielded the date of 1155 BC, indicating that the Thamirabarani civilization dates back to 3,200 years.

About Thamirabarani River

  • The Thamirabarani or Tamraparni or Porunai is a perennial river that originates from the Agastyarkoodam peak of the Pothigai hills of the Western Ghats.
  • It flows through the Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi districts of the Tamil Nadu state of southern India into the Gulf of Mannar.
  • It was called the Tamraparni River in the pre-classical period, a name it lent to the island of Sri Lanka.
  • The old Tamil name of the river is Porunai.

Its history

  • Its many name derivations of Tan Porunai include Tampraparani, Tamirabarni, Tamiravaruni.
  • Tan Porunai nathi finds mention by classical Tamil poets in ancient Sangam Tamil literature Purananuru.
  • Recognised as a holy river in Sanskrit literature Puranas, Mahabharata and Ramayana, the river was famed in the Early Pandyan Kingdom for its pearl and conch fisheries and trade.
  • The movement of people, including the faithful, trade merchants and toddy tapers from Tamraparni river to northwestern Sri Lanka led to the shared appellation of the name for the closely connected region.
  • One important historical document on the river is the treatise Tamraparni Mahatmyam.
  • It has many ancient temples along its banks. A hamlet known as Appankoil is located on the northern side of the river.

Significance of the carbon dating

  • This has provided evidence that there was a city civilisation in south India as long back as 3,200 years ago, the later part of the Indus Valley Civilisation.
  • Vicinity to the ancient port of Muziris, now known as Pattanam, in Kerala add another significance to the trade history of this site.
  • Now, research would be conducted at Quseir al-Qadim and Pernica Anekke in Egypt, which were once part of the Roman empire, as well as in Khor Rori in Oman, to establish the Tamils’ trade relations with these countries.
  • Potsherds bearing Tamil scripts have been found in these countries.
  • Studies would also be conducted in Southeast Asian countries, such as Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam, where King Rajendra Chola had established supremacy.

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Sangam era older than previously thought, finds study

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Visva-Bharati University

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Vishwa Bharati University

Mains level : Not Much

The Calcutta High Court has directed that there can be no protest by the students within 50 meters of academic buildings at Visva-Bharati University.

Visva-Bharati

  • Visva-Bharati is a central research university and an Institution of National Importance located in Shantiniketan, West Bengal, India.
  • It was founded by Rabindranath Tagore who called it Visva-Bharati, which means the communion of the world with India.
  • Until independence, it was a college.
  • Soon after independence, the institution was given the status of a central university in 1951 by an act of the Parliament.

Its history

  • The origins of the institution date back to 1863 when Debendranath Tagore was given a tract of land by the zamindar of Raipur, zamindar of Kirnahar.
  • He set up an ashram at the spot that has now come to be called chatim tala at the heart of the town.
  • The ashram was initially called Brahmacharya Ashram, which was later renamed Brahmacharya Vidyalaya.
  • It was established with a view to encouraging people from all walks of life to come to the spot and meditate.
  • In 1901 his youngest son Rabindranath Tagore established a co-educational school inside the premises of the ashram.
  • From 1901 onwards, Tagore used the ashram to organize the Hindu Mela, which soon became a center of nationalist activity.

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Dinosaur Footprints found in Thar desert

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Dinosaur species mentioned

Mains level : Not Much

In a major discovery, footprints of three species of dinosaurs have been found in the Thar desert in Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer district.

Details of the footprints

  • The footprints, made in the sediment or silt of the seashore, later become permanently stone-like.
  • They belong to three species of dinosaurs — Eubrontes cf. giganteus, Eubrontes glenrosensis and Grallator tenuis.
  • While the giganteus and glenrosensis species have 35 cm footprints, the footprint of the third species was found to be 5.5 cm.
  • The dinosaur species are considered to be of the theropod type, with the distinguishing features of hollow bones and feet with three digits.
  • All three species, belonging to the early Jurassic period, were carnivorous.
  • Eubrontes could have been 12 to 15 metres long and weighed between 500 kg and 700 kg, while the height of the Grallator is estimated to have been two metres, as much as a human, with a length of up to three metres.

Key findings

  • The discovery of dinosaur footprints prove the presence of the giant reptiles in the western part of the State, which formed the seashore to the Tethys Ocean during the Mesozoic era.
  • Careful geological observations enabled the scientists to interpret ancient environments in which the rocks of the footprints, which were once soft sediments, were deposited.
  • Geochemical analyses and calculation of weathering indices showed that the hinterland climate was seasonal to semi-arid during the deposition of the footprints.
  • Fieldwork in the Kutch and Jaisalmer basins has suggested that after the main transgression during the early Jurassic period, the sea level changed several times.
  • Spatial and temporal distribution of sediments and traces of fossils and post-depositional structures provided an indication to this phenomenon.

Significance

  • These trace fossils are significant to ascertain how life started and evolved after the mass extinction of species, including dinosaurs, at the end of the cretaceous period around 65 million years ago.
  • This research also illustrates the evidence of a fluvial freshwater palaeo-environment and tropical palaeo-climate, indicating the presence of a tropical forest and a huge network of rivers.

No matter what, try this PYQ:

Q.The term “sixth mass extinction/sixth extinction” is often mentioned in the news in the context of the discussion of (CSP 2018):

(a) Widespread monoculture Practices agriculture and large-scale commercial farming with indiscriminate use of chemicals in many parts of the world that may result in the loss of good native ecosystems.

(b) Fears of a possible collision of a meteorite with the Earth in the near future in the manner it happened 65million years ago that caused the mass extinction of many species including those of dinosaurs.

(c) Large scale cultivation of genetically modified crops in many parts of the world and promoting their cultivation in other Parts of the world which may cause the disappearance of good native crop plants and the loss of food biodiversity.

(d) Mankind’s over-exploitation/misuse of natural resources, fragmentation/loss, natural habitats, destruction of ecosystems, pollution, and global climate change.

 

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Places in news: Kesaria Buddhist Stupa

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Kesaria Stupa

Mains level : Not Much

The world-famous Kesaria Buddha stupa in east Champaran district of Bihar is waterlogged following floods in some parts of the district after heavy rainfall in the catchment areas of river Gandak in neighbouring Nepal.

Kesaria Stupa

  • The Kesaria stupa, located about 110 km from the State capital Patna, has a circumference of almost 400 feet and stands at a height of about 104 feet.
  • The first construction of the nationally protected stupa is dated to the 3rd century BCE.
  • It is regarded as the largest Buddhist stupa in the world and has been drawing tourists from across several Buddhist countries.
  • The sputa’s exploration had started in the early 19th century after its discovery led by Colonel Mackenzie in 1814.
  • Later, it was excavated by General Cunningham in 1861-62 and in 1998 an ASI team led by archaeologist K.K. Muhammad had excavated the site properly.
  • The original Kesaria stupa is said to date back to the time of emperor Ashoka (circa 250 BCE) as the remains of an Ashokan pillar was discovered there.

In the accounts of foreign travellers

  • The stupa mound may even have been inaugurated during the Buddha’s time, as it corresponds in many respects to the description of the stupa erected by the Licchavis of Vaishali to house the alms bowl the Buddha has given them.
  • Interestingly, Chinese travellers Fa-Hien (5th century CE) and Hiuen Tsang (7th century CE), who travelled to India, also mention this stupa and the legend of Buddha and the Licchavis, in their records.
  • While Fa-Hien talks of a pillar erected at the site, Hiuen Tsang mentions the stupa itself.

Try answering this question from CS Mains 2016:

Q.Early Buddhist Stupa-art, while depicting folk motifs and narratives successfully expounds Buddhist ideals. Elucidate.

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Skull found in China represents a new human species

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Stone age man and his evolution

Mains level : Not Much

Scientists have announced that a skull discovered in northeast China represents a newly discovered human species they have named Homo longi, or “Dragon Man”.

Answer this PYQ in the comment box:

Q.The word ‘Denisovan’ is sometimes mentioned in media in reference to (CSP 2019):

(a) fossils of a kind of dinosaurs

(b) an early human species

(c) a cave system found in North-East India.

(d) a geological period in the history of Indian subcontinent

Who is the “Dragon Man”, the latest Chinese discovery?

  • The cranium found in China has been dubbed the “Dragaon Man” or Homo longi, a name that has been derived from the Long Jiang or Dragon River in the Heilongjiang province of China where the city of Harbin is located.
  • The skull was reportedly discovered back in 1933, when a bridge was built over the Songhua River.
  • For thousands of years, the skull remained buried in sediments.
  • Because of the distinctive shape of the skull, which was found almost complete, some members of the team have suggested that it be declared a part of a new species of the genus Homo.
  • Significantly, the size of the skull, which has a considerable brain capacity, is comparable to that of modern humans and Neanderthals.

Why is this discovery being considered significant?

  • For one, it brings new knowledge about the evolution of Homo sapiens.
  • It might help to bridge the gaps between our ancient ancestors called Homo erectus and us.
  • This knowledge is important because there is very little consensus in the scientific community about how different human species are related, and which species are our immediate ancestors.
  • Smithsonian for instance notes that some palaeontologists believe Homo heidelbergensis to be our immediate ancestors.
  • This species was discovered in 1908, and lived about 700,000 to 200,000 years ago in Europe and possibly China and some parts of Africa.

Back2Basics: Species of Humans

  • Modern humans are the only human species that exist in the world today.
  • While the exact number of human species is a matter of debate, most scientists believe that there are at least 21 of them.

As per the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, there are over 21 human species.  Major among these are:

(1) Sahelanthropus tchadensis

  • Sahelanthropus tchadensis is believed to be the oldest member of the human family tree.
  • It lived about 7-6 million years ago somewhere around present-day Chad in Africa.
  • It had both ape-like and human-like features and was bipedalled, an ability that may have increased its chances of survival.

(2) Homo erectus

  • Homo erectus lived about 1.89 million-110,000 years ago, in Northern, Eastern, and Southern Africa and Western and East Asia.
  • ‘Turkana Boy’ is the most complete fossil belonging to this species and is dated to be around 1.6 million years old.

(3) Modern man

  • Homo neanderthalensis lived about 400,000-40,000 years ago and co-existed with Homo sapiens for a few thousand years.
  • They lived in Europe and in southwestern and central Asia.
  • Homo sapiens evolved about 300,000 years ago, and are found worldwide.

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New geometrical lines discovered in Thar Desert

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Boha Geoglyphs

Mains level : NA

Using satellite observations and field visits, two independent researchers from France have identified eight sites around Jaisalmer in the Thar Desert, that show linear features resembling geoglyphs.

What are geoglyphs?

  • Geoglyphs are large, un-explained geometrical patterns on land usually proposed to be man-made features.
  • The largest concentration of geoglyphs is reported from southern Peru, covering an area of about 1,000 square km.
  • A new paper published notes that the identified geoglyphs in the Thar Desert cover an area of about 6 square km.

Boha Geoglyphs in Thar

  • The authors’ main area of interest was Boha, a small village 40 km to the north of Jaisalmer where they noticed a series of concentric and linear features.
  • They named these features Boha geoglyphs and suggested that the features could be at least 150 years old.
  • It is however conceivable that they were built at the beginning of the British colonial period, in the middle of the 19th century.

How are they patterned?

  • The Boha geoglyphs are clearly manmade as the main unit is a giant spiral, but they have been eroded due to the cars running over the lines lately.
  • So, they are clearly not formed by weathering or another natural phenomenon.”
  • The observed features might have been formed naturally, but degraded over time due to both natural and human-related causes.

Degraded over time

  • The rocky terrain is home to a typical weathering feature, especially over the iron-rich sandstone and shale beds.
  • Here, extreme aridity and high temperature lead to slow geochemical translocation of minerals for centuries, such that the heavier minerals like iron and manganese move away from the lighter minerals.
  • This lead to the gradual formation of alternate bands of harder and softer mineral concentrations.
  • With time the areas with softer materials get slowly eroded, while the harder ones stand out, producing the typical concentric or box-like geometric features.

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Places in news: Pandav Leni Complex

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Pandav leni complex

Mains level : Ancient buddhist cave architecture

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has found three more caves in the Trirashmi Buddhist cave complex, also known as Pandav Leni, near Nashik, Maharashtra.

Answer this PYQ first, in the comment box:

Q.There are only two known examples of cave paintings of the Gupta period in ancient India. One of these is paintings of Ajanta caves. Where is the other surviving example of Gupta paintings?

(a) Bagh caves

(b) Ellora caves

(c) Lomas Rishi cave

(d) Nasik caves

Pandav Leni Complex

  • The Pandav Leni Complex or Nasik Caves are a group of 23 caves carved between the 1st century BCE and the 3rd century CE.
  • Also called Trirashmi Buddhist caves, this complex was first documented in 1823 by Captain James Delamaine and is now an ASI- protected site.
  • Though additional sculptures were added up to about the 6th century, it is a major landmark of changes in Buddhist devotional practices.
  • Most of the caves are viharas except for Cave 18 which is a chaitya of the 1st century BCE.
  • The style of some of the elaborate pillars or columns, for example in caves 3 and 10, is an important example of the development of the form.
  • The “Pandavleni” name sometimes given to the Nasik Caves has nothing to do with the characters Pandavas, characters in the Mahabharata epic.
  • Other caves in the area are Karla Caves, Bhaja Caves, Patan Cave, and Bedse Caves.

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Thomas Hickey’s 19th century painting on smallpox vaccination

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Smallpox vaccination in colonial India

Mains level : Not Much

A 19th-century portrait of three women from Mysore has been going viral as “one of the most important scientific pictures in the history of medicine in India”.

What did the portrait depict?

  • Believed to be painted in 1805 by Irish-born artist Thomas Hickey, the oil on canvas was initially thought to be portraits of “dancing girls or courtesans”.
  • The painting depicted one of the first vaccine drives in India, with bejewelled women from the Wadiyar dynasty posing for Hickey.
  • The canvas was commissioned to promote participation in the smallpox vaccination programme and the women posing with the scars.

What is smallpox?

  • Smallpox is an acute contagious disease caused by the variola virus, a member of the orthopoxvirus family.
  • It was one of the most devastating diseases known to humanity and caused millions of deaths before it was eradicated.
  • It is believed to have existed for at least 3000 years.

How and when did the smallpox vaccine reach India?

  • The smallpox vaccine, discovered by Edward Jenner in 1796, was the first successful vaccine to be developed.
  • On June 14, 1802, Anna Dusthall, an Anglo-Indian toddler, was the first person in India to be successfully vaccinated against the virus that relied on the cowpox virus, “a mild cousin of smallpox” to trigger immunity.
  • The “vaccine vesicle” that came on the arm of the receiver was a source of lymphatic fluid or pus that would act as a vaccine, leading to an arm-to-arm immunisation chain.
  • The vaccine subsequently travelled to different parts of India, including Hyderabad, Cochin, Madras and Mysore.

How was the drive carried out?

  • While the lymph was at times reportedly dried and sealed between glass plates to be transported, it often did not survive long journeys, due to which the British had to primarily rely on a human chain.
  • There was also opposition from the domestic population on the introduction of the cowpox virus and also because some believed the goddess of smallpox would be angered by the vaccination.
  • With Tipu Sultan defeated in Mysore, and the reinstatement of the Wadiyars, the East India Company was trying to strengthen its position in South India.
  • It protected the ex-pat population from an epidemic, making vaccination essential.
  • Queen Lakshmi Ammanni, who had lost her husband to smallpox, supported their cause and wanted to vaccine her population against the deadly virus.
  • The painting was supposed to encourage participation in the vaccination drive.

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Reclining Buddha and his various other depictions in art

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Reclining Buddha , Various Mudras

Mains level : Buddhist arts in India

On this Buddha Jayanti, Buddha Purnima, or Vesak — India’s largest statue of the Reclining Buddha was to have been installed at Bodh Gaya. The ceremony has been put off due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The Reclining Buddha

  • A reclining Buddha statue or image represents The Buddha during his last illness, about to enter Parinirvana, the stage of great salvation after death that can only be attained by enlightened souls.
  • The Buddha’s death came when he was 80 years old, in a state of meditation, in Kushinagar in eastern Uttar Pradesh, close to the state’s border with Bihar.

Answer this PYQ from CSP 2014 in the comment box:

Q.Lord Buddha’s image is sometimes shown with a hand gesture called ‘Bhumisparsha Mudra’. It symbolizes-

a) Buddha’s calling of the Earth to watch over Mara and to prevent Mara from disturbing his meditation

b) Buddha’s calling of the Earth to witness his purity and chastity despite the temptations of Mara

c) Buddha’s reminder to his followers that they all arise from the Earth and finally dissolve into the Earth and thus this life is transitory

d) Both the statements ‘a’ and ‘b’ are correct in this context

Significance of the position

  • Buddha is lying on his right side, his head resting on a cushion or relying on his right elbow, supporting his head with his hand.
  • After the Buddha’s death, his followers decide to build a statue of him lying down.
  • It is a popular iconographic depiction in Buddhism and is meant to show that all beings have the potential to be awakened and be released from the cycle of death and rebirth.

Connection with Gandhara Art

  • The Reclining Buddha was first depicted in Gandhara art, which began in the period between 50 BC and 75 AD, and peaked during the Kushana period from the first to the fifth centuries AD.
  • Since the Buddha was against idol worship, in the centuries immediately following his Parinirvana (483 BC), his representation was through symbols.
  • As the devotional aspect subsequently entered Buddhist practice, however, iconographic representations of The Buddha began.

Try this question from CS Mains 2016:

Q.Early Buddhist Stupa-art, while depicting folk motifs and narratives, successfully expounds Buddhist ideals. Elucidate.

Reclining Buddha outside India

  • In Sri Lanka and India, the Buddha is mostly shown in sitting postures, while the reclining postures are more prevalent in Thailand and other parts of southeast Asia.
  • There are several statues of the Reclining Buddha in China, Thailand, Japan, Indonesia, and Malaysia.
  • The largest in the world is the 600-foot Winsein Tawya Buddha built-in 1992 in Mawlamyine, Myanmar.
  • In the late 15th century, a 70-meter statue of the Reclining Buddha was built at the Hindu temple site of Baphuon in Cambodia’s Angkor.
  • The Bhamala Buddha Parinirvana in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which dates back to the 2nd century AD, is considered the oldest statue of its kind in the world.

Reclining Buddha in India

  • Cave No. 26 of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ajanta contains a 24-foot-long and nine-foot-tall sculpture of the Reclining Buddha, believed to have been carved in the 5th century AD.
  • It shows the Buddha reclining on his right side, and behind him are two sala trees.
  • At the base of the sculpture are his begging bowl, a water pitcher and walking stick.
  • While his disciples are shown sitting in mourning, celestial beings are shown on top, rejoicing in anticipation of the Buddha’s arrival in heaven.

Back2Basics: Mudras of Buddha

Dharmachakra Mudra

  • It is also called as the gesture of ‘Teaching of the Wheel of Dharma’ that describes one of the most important moments in the Buddha’s life as he performed the Dharmachakra mudra in his first sermon in Sarnath after he attained enlightenment.
  • It is performed with the help of both the hands which are held against the chest, the left facing inward, covering the right facing outward.

Dhyan Mudra

  • It is also known as Samadhi or Yoga Mudra.
  • It is performed with the help of two hands, which are placed on the lap and place the right hand on the left hand with stretched fingers (thumbs facing upwards and other fingers of both the hand resting on each other.)
  • This is the characteristic gesture of Buddha Shakyamuni, Dhyani Buddha Amitabh and the Medicine Buddha.

Bhumisparsa Mudra

  • This gesture is also known as ‘touching the Earth’, which represents the moment of the Buddha’s awakening as he claims the earth as the witness of his enlightenment.
  • It is performed with the help of the right hand, which is held above the right knee, reaching toward the ground with the palm inward while touching the lotus throne.

Varada Mudra

  • This mudra represents the offering, welcome, charity, giving, compassion and sincerity.
  • It is performed with the help of both the hands in which palm of right hand is facing forward and fingers extended and left hand palm placed near centre with extended fingers.

Karana Mudra

  • It signifies the warding off of evil which is performed by raising the index and the little finger, and folding the other fingers.
  • It helps in reducing sickness or negative thoughts.

Vajra Mudra

  • This gesture denotes the fiery thunderbolt that symbolises the five elements—air, water, fire, earth, and metal.
  • It is performed with the help of right fist and left forefinger, which is placed by enclosing the erect forefinger of the left hand in the right fist with the tip of the right forefinger touching (or curled around) the tip of the left forefinger.

Vitarka Mudra

  • It signifies the discussion and transmission of the teachings of the Buddha.
  • It is performed by joining the tips of the thumb and the index fingers together while keeping the other fingers straight, which is just like the Abhaya Mudra and Varada Mudra but in this mudra the thumbs touch the index fingers.

Abhaya Mudra

  • It is a gesture of fearlessness or blessing that represents the protection, peace, benevolence, and dispelling of fear.
  • It is performed with the help of right hand by raising to shoulder height with bent arm, and the face of palm will be facing outward with fingers upright whereas the left hand hanging down while standing.

Uttarabodhi Mudra

  • This denotes the supreme enlightenment through connecting oneself with divine universal energy.
  • It is performed with the help of both the hands, which are placed at the heart with the index fingers touching and pointing upwards and the remaining fingers intertwined.

Anjali Mudra

  • It is also called Namaskara Mudra or Hridayanjali Mudra that represents the gesture of greeting, prayer and adoration.
  • It is performed by pressing the palms of the hands together in which the hands are held at the heart chakra with thumbs resting lightly against the sternum.

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[pib] Development of Rakhi Garhi Archaeological Site

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Iconic Archaeological sites

Mains level : Indus valley civilization

Rakhi Garhi is being developed as one of the five Identified Iconic Archaeological Sites, informed the Minister of Culture and Tourism.

Rakhi Garhi

  • 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.

Try this question from our AWE initiative

Ancient Indian sculptural art is highly rich in its traditions. Trace the development ancient Indian sculpture that go back to the Indus Valley civilisation. 10 marks

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.

Back2Basics: 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) Rakhigarhi

*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.

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Govt. reconstitutes panel for studying mythical Sarasvati River

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Rigvedic rivers

Mains level : Not Much

The Centre has reconstituted an advisory committee to chalk out a plan for studying the mythical Sarasvati River for the next two years after the earlier panel’s term ended in 2019.

Do you know?

Rigveda describes India as a land of Sapta Sindhavah.

There is a verse in Nadistuti sukta of Rigveda , hymn of praise of rivers which mentions the following 10 rivers: Ganga, Yamuna, Sarasvati, Sutudri, Parusni, Asikni, Marudvrdha , Vitasta , Arjikiya , Susoma.

The Shutudri was Sutlej, Parushni was Ravi, Asikni was Chenab and Vitasta was Jhelum.

Sarasvati River

  • The Sarasvati River is an extinct river mentioned in the Rig Veda and later Vedic and post-Vedic texts.
  • As a physical river, it is described as a small river ending in “a terminal lake (Samudra).
  • As the goddess Sarasvati, the main referent for the term “Sarasvati” which developed into an independent identity in post-Vedic times, she is described as a powerful river and mighty flood.
  • The Sarasvati is also considered by Hindus to exist in a metaphysical form, in which it formed a confluence with the sacred rivers Ganges and Yamuna, at the Triveni Sangam.

Vedic reference of the river

  • Rigvedic and later Vedic texts have been used to propose identification with present-day rivers, or ancient riverbeds.
  • The Nadistuti hymn in the Rigveda (10.75) mentions the Sarasvati between the Yamuna in the east and the Sutlej in the west.
  • Later Vedic texts like the Tandya and Jaiminiya Brahmanas, as well as the Mahabharata, mention that the Sarasvati dried up in a desert.

What led to its extinction?

  • Since the late 19th-century, scholars have proposed to identify the Rig Vedic Saraswati river with the Ghaggar-Hakra river system.
  • This flows through northwestern India and eastern Pakistan, between the Yamuna and the Sutlej.
  • Recent geophysical research suggests that the Ghaggar-Hakra system was glacier-fed until 8,000 years ago, and then became a system of monsoon-fed rivers.
  • ISRO has observed that major Indus Valley Civilization sites at Kalibangan (Rajasthan), Banawali and Rakhigarhi (Haryana), Dholavira and Lothal (Gujarat) lay along this course.
  • The Indus Valley Civilisation may have declined as a result of climatic change when the monsoons that fed the rivers diminished at around the time civilisation diminished some 4,000 years ago.

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10th century Buddhist Monastery uncovered in Jharkhand’s Hazaribagh

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Buddha's Mudra, Vajrayana Sect

Mains level : Read the attached story

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has unearthed a Buddhist monastery, believed to be at least 900 years old, buried under a mound in a village situated in a hilly area of Hazaribagh district of Jharkhand.

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.

Tap to read more about Buddhism at:

Chapter 5 | Mauryan Period (400BC – 200BC)

Learning: Various Mudra of Buddha

PC: Pinterest

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Inscription on Krishnadevaraya’s death discovered

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Krishnadevaraya

Mains level : Vijayanagara empire

The first-ever epigraphical reference to the date of death of Vijayanagara king Krishnadevaraya has been discovered in the Tumakuru district of Karnataka.

Try this question from CS Mains 2016:

Q.Krishnadevaraya, the King of Vijayanagara was not only an accomplished scholar himself, but was also a great patron of learning and literature. Discuss.

Who was Krishnadevaraya?

  • 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.

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Dickinsonia fossil discovered in Bhimbetka

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Dickensonia, Bhimbetka

Mains level : Stone age paintings in India

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.

Do you know?

Cosmogenic nuclide dating is deployed to determine time of earliest human culture. India’s oldest stone-age tools, up to 1.5 million years old, are at a prehistoric site near Chennai.

About Bhimbetka

  • The Bhimbetka rock shelters are an archaeological site in central India that spans the prehistoric Paleolithic and Mesolithic periods, as well as the historic period.
  • It exhibits the earliest traces of human life in India and evidence of Stone Age starting at the site in Acheulian times.
  • It is located in the Raisen District in Madhya Pradesh about 45 kilometres (28 mi) south-east of Bhopal.
  • It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that consists of seven hills and over 750 rock shelters distributed over 10 km (6.2 mi).
  • At least some of the shelters were inhabited more than 100,000 years ago.
  • Some of the Bhimbetka rock shelters feature prehistoric cave paintings and the earliest are about 10,000 years old (c. 8,000 BCE), corresponding to the Indian Mesolithic.
  • These cave paintings show themes such as animals, early evidence of dance and hunting.
  • The Bhimbetka rock shelters were found by V S Wakankar 64 years ago. Since then, thousands of researchers have visited the site, but this rare fossil went undetected.

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Expedition to Ram Setu

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Adam's Bridge

Mains level : NA

In possibly a first, Indian scientists will undertake a scientific expedition to date the chain of corals and sediments forming the Ram Setu.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Which of the following have coral reefs?

  1. Andaman and Nicobar Islands
  2. Gulf of Kachchh
  3. Gulf of Mannar
  4. Sunderbans

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1, 2 and 3 only

(b) 2 and 4 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2, 3 and 4

Ram Setu

  • Also known as Adam’s bridge, Ram Setu is a 48-km long bridge-like structure between India and Sri Lanka.
  • It finds mention in the Ramayana but little about its formation is known or proven, scientifically.

What is the underwater archaeological project at Ram Setu?

  • The National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) will undertake a three-year scientific project.
  • The idea is to see whether Ram Setu is a man-made structure or not.
  • The most important aspect of the project is to establish its age, scientifically.
  • The explorers will apply a number of scientific techniques while attempting to date the Ram Setu, study its material composition, outline the sub-surface structure along with attempting to excavate remnants or artefacts, if any, from the site.
  • Once it is known, the information can be verified and co-related with its mention in the Ramayana and similar scriptures.

How is the project planned?

  • An initial survey will make use of underwater photographs to check if any habitation remains inundated in the area. A geophysical survey will be performed to understand the structure.
  • Over the years, several kinds of depositions, including sand, have covered the actual structure. Initially, only physical observation, and no drilling, will be done.
  • NIO operates two oceanographic vessels – RV Sindhu Sankalp (ability to go up to and remain 56 metres underwater) and RV Sindhu Sadhana (ability to go up to and remain 80 metres underwater).
  • For collecting core samples at greater depths and for bathymetry purposes, Sindhu Sadhana will be deployed for the Ram Setu project.

Two of the planned tests:

  1. Side-scan SONAR — Will provide bathymetry which is similar to studying the topography of a structure on land. Soundwaves signals will be sent to the structure which will provide an outline of the physical structure of the Ram Setu.
  2. Silo seismic survey – Mild earthquake-like tremor shocks will be sent at shallow depths close to the structure. These energized shockwaves are capable of penetrating into the structure. The reflected or refracted signals will be captured by instruments that will provide sub-surface structure.

Significance of such exploration

  • India has a vast coastline of over 7,500 kilometres.
  • Oceans are a treasure trove of the past records — climate, evolutionary changes of the underwater fauna, coastal lives, habitations, settlements and civilizations.
  • Of these, the sea-level changes remain the most significant of all with respect to climate studies.
  • History has records of sailors who set out on unknown voyages to later discover new lands and islands.
  • They ventured into deep seas even before the advent of the Global Positioning System (GPS).
  • Using such underwater exploration studies, scientists say that it is possible to trace numerous ship-wreckages and remains from the past.
  • Studies of ship wreckage, artefacts or remains could reveal a lot of information.

Recently a 60000 YO submerged forest was explored off the Alabama coast in the USA.

Has India undertaken underwater archaeological explorations?

  • A part of Dwarka, along with coastal Gujarat, is underwater, confirming the sea-level rise.
  • The NIO has been studying this site, and so far, traced large amounts of scattered stones which were retrieved at the depth between three to six metres beneath.
  • Stone anchors, too, were found at the site, suggesting it to be part of an ancient harbour.
  • In the past, NIO had initiated studies to trace the missing shore temples of Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu.
  • Presently, several ship wreckage studies, including the one-off the Odisha coast, are going on.

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Sulawesi Cave Paintings

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Sulawesi Cave Paintings

Mains level : Not Much

A team of archaeologists in Indonesia has discovered what may be the world’s oldest known cave painting dating back to more than 45,000 years.

Try this PYQ:

Q.There are only two known examples of cave paintings of the Gupta period in ancient India. One of these is paintings of Ajanta caves. Where is the other surviving example of Gupta paintings?

(a) Bagh caves

(b) Ellora caves

(c) Lomas Rishi cave

(d) Nasik caves

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.

Must read:

Chapter 1 | Stone Age – Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic

How did the archaeologists date it?

  • The painting was first discovered in 2017 as part of surveys the team was carrying out with the Indonesian authorities.
  • For these painting archaeologists used a method called U-series isotope analysis, which uses calcium carbonate deposits that form naturally on the cave wall surface to determine its age.
  • They used a calcium carbonate deposit, also referred to as “cave popcorn” that had formed on the rear foot of one of the pig figures.
  • They were able to figure out a minimum age for the painting at around 45,500 years, which means the painting was made before this.

Sulawesi: Oldest human habitat

Try memorizing these Islands of the Indo-Pacific in their East-West alternations.

  • Sulawesi island contains some of the oldest directly dated rock art in the world and also some of the oldest evidence for the presence of hominins beyond the southeastern limits of the Ice Age Asian continent.
  • Hominins include modern humans, extinct human species and our immediate ancestors.
  • Homo sapiens are the first modern humans who evolved from their hominid predecessors between 200,000-300,000 years ago.
  • It is estimated that these modern humans started migrating outside of Africa some 70,000-100,000 years ago.
  • Even so, it is not yet clear as to when modern humans first colonised Sulawesi.

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Cattle meat residue found in Indus Valley vessels

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Various IVC sites

Mains level : IVC

A new study has found the presence of animal products, including cattle and buffalo meat, in ceramic vessels dating back about 4,600 years at seven Indus Valley Civilization sites in present-day Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

The Karnataka Assembly has passed the controversial Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill, 2020, amid protests.

Beef politics has always gained traction in India being a cheap source of protein for masses versus religious sentiments of the fundamentalists.

How was the study conducted?

  • The study is the first to look into the absorbed lipid residues in pottery from multiple sites, including Rakhigarhi, Farmana and Masudpur.
  • Lipids are relatively less prone to degradation and have been discovered in pottery from archaeological contexts around the world.

Key findings

  • The high proportions of cattle bones suggest a cultural preference for beef consumption across Indus populations, supplemented by the consumption of mutton/lamb.
  • The study found little evidence of dairy products. However, there could be regional differences as a recent study of vessels in Gujarat had found evidence of dairy products.
  • About 50-60% of domestic animal bones found at Indus Valley sites come from cattle/buffalo.
  • It says that at Harappa, 90% of the cattle were kept alive until they were three or three-and-a-half years, suggesting that females were used for dairying production, whereas male animals were used for traction.

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In new: Annapurna Idol

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Annapurna idol

Mains level : Not Much

PM has announced that an ancient idol of the goddess Annapurna, stolen from India about a century ago, is being brought back from Canada.

Must revise: Gandhara and Mathura school of Art

[Static Revision] Chapter 6 | Post Mauryan Period (200BC to 300AD)

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.

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Dairy production in the Indus Valley Civilization

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : IVC

Mains level : Dairy production in IVC

A new study has shown that dairy products were being produced by the Harappans as far back as 2500 BCE.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Which one of the following is not a Harappan site?

(a) Chanhudaro

(b) Kot Diji

(c) Sohgaura

(d) Desalpur

Dairy production in IVC

  • 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.

How did they find it?

  • The team used molecular analysis techniques to study the residues from ancient pottery.
  • Pots are porous. The pot preserves the molecules of food such as fats and proteins. Using techniques like C16 and C18 analysis we can identify the source of lipids.
  • Traces were seen in cooking vessels indicating that milk may have been boiled and consumed.

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.

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Sawantwadi Toy (PIB)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Sawantwadi toys

Mains level : NA

Context- Online Release of Picture Postcard on Sawantwadi Toy by India Post.

What are Sawantwadi toys ?

  • 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.

 

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Renati Chola Era Inscription

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Renati Cholas, Chola Administration

Mains level : Not Much

A rare inscription dating back to the Renati Chola era has been unearthed in a remote village of Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh.

Try this PYQ:

Q.In the context of the history of India, consider the following pairs:

Term: Description

  1. Eripatti: Land revenue from which was set apart for the maintenance of the village tank
  2. Taniyurs: Villages donated to a single Brahmin or a group of Brahmins
  3. Ghatikas: Colleges generally attached to the temples

Which of the pairs given above is/are correctly matched?

(a) 1 and 2

(b) 3 only

(c) 2 and 3

(d) 1 and 3

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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[pib] Historic City of Hampi

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Hampi

Mains level : Vijayanagara Architecture

The Ministry of Tourism organised their latest webinar titled Hampi- Inspired by the past; Going into the future under Dekho Apna Desh Webinar series.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Building ‘Kalyaana Mandapas’ was a notable feature in the temple construction in the kingdom of-

(a) Chalukya

(b) Chandela

(c) Rashtrakuta

(d) Vijayanagara

Facts about Hampi

  • Its name is derived from Pampa which is the old name of the Tungabhadra River on whose banks the city is built.
  • In 1336 CE, the Vijayanagara Empire arose from the ruins of the Kampili kingdom.
  • It grew into one of the famed Hindu empires of South India that ruled for over 200 years.
  • The Vijayanagara rulers fostered developments in intellectual pursuits and the arts, maintained a strong military and fought many wars with sultanates to its north and east.
  • They invested in roads, waterworks, agriculture, religious buildings and public infrastructure.
  • The site used to be multi-religious and multi-ethnic; it included Hindu and Jain monuments next to each other.
  • The buildings predominantly followed South Indian Hindu arts and architecture dating to the Aihole-Pattadakal styles.
  • The Hampi builders also used elements of Indo-Islamic architecture in the Lotus Mahal, the public bath and the elephant stables.

Major attractions

  • One of the major attractions of Hampi is the 15th Century Virupaksha temple which is one of the oldest monuments of the town.
  • The main shrine is dedicated to Virupaksha, a form of Lord Shiva.
  • Hemkunta Hill, south of the Virupaksha temple contains early ruins, Jain temples and a monolithic sculpture of Lord Narasimha, a form of Lord Vishnu.
  • At the eastern end, there is the large Nandi in stone; on the southern side is the larger than life Ganesha.
  • Large single stone carvings seem to have been the fashion of the day in Hampi, for there is a large image of Narasimha (6.7m high), the half-lion half-man incarnation of God, as well as a huge linga.

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[pib] Mongolian Kanjur Manuscripts

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Mongolian Kanjur 

Mains level : Buddhist literature

The Ministry of Culture has taken up the project of reprinting of 108 volumes of Mongolian Kanjur under the National Mission for Manuscripts (NMM).  The first sets of five volumes were presented to the President of India.

Try this question from CSP 2011:

Q.India maintained its early cultural contacts and trade links with Southeast Asia across the Bay of Bengal. For this preeminence of early maritime history of Bay of Bengal, which of the following could be the most convincing explanation/explanations?

(a) As compared to other countries, India had a better ship-building technology in ancient and medieval times.

(b) The rulers of southern India always patronized traders, Brahmin priests and Buddhist monks in this context.

(c) Monsoon winds across the Bay of Bengal facilitated sea voyages.

(d) Both (a) and (b) are convincing explanations in this context.

Mongolian Kanjur

  • Mongolian Kanjur, the Buddhist canonical text in 108 volumes is considered to be the most important religious text in Mongolia.
  • In the Mongolian language ‘Kanjur’ means ‘Concise Orders’- the words of Lord Buddha in particular. It has been translated from Tibetan.
  • It is held in high esteem by the Mongolian Buddhists and they worship the Kanjur at temples and recite the lines of Kanjur in daily life as a sacred ritual.
  • The Kanjur is kept almost in every monastery in Mongolia.
  • The language of the Kanjur is Classical Mongolian and it is a source of providing a cultural identity to Mongolia.

About National Mission for Manuscripts

  • The Mission was launched in February 2003 under the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, with the mandate of documenting, conserving and disseminating the knowledge preserved in the manuscripts.
  • One of the objectives of the mission is to publish rare and unpublished manuscripts so that the knowledge enshrined in them is spread to researchers, scholars and the general public at large.
  • Under this scheme, reprinting of 108 volumes of Mongolian Kanjur has been taken up by the Mission.

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Kodumanal Megalithic Burial Site

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Megaliths

Mains level : Not Much

The Kodumanal excavation in Erode Dist. of Tamil Nadu has threw light on burial rituals and the concept of afterlife in megalithic culture.

Must read:

Chapter 1 | Stone Age – Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic

About these sites

  • The researchers have identified 250 cairn-circles at the village in Erode district.
  • Earlier excavations revealed that the site served as a trade-cum-industrial centre from 5th century BCE to 1st century BCE.
  • The rectangular chambered cists, each two metres long and six metres wide, are made of stone slabs, and the entire grave is surrounded by boulders that form a circle.
  • The grave could be of a village head or the head of the community as the size of two boulders, each facing east and west, are bigger than other boulders.
  • Believing that the deceased person will get a new life after death, pots and bowls filled with grains were placed outside the chambers.

What are Megaliths?

  • Megaliths are the earliest surviving man-made monuments we know of—derived from the Latin mega (large) and lith (stone).
  • Megaliths were constructed either as burial sites or commemorative (non-sepulchral) memorials.
  • The former are sites with actual burial remains, such as dolmenoid cists (box-shaped stone burial chambers), cairn circles (stone circles with defined peripheries) and capstones (distinctive mushroom-shaped burial chambers found mainly in Kerala).
  • The urn or the sarcophagus containing the mortal remains was usually made of terracotta.
  • Non-sepulchral megaliths include memorial sites such as menhirs. (The line separating the two is a bit blurry, since remains have been discovered underneath otherwise non-sepulchral sites, and vice versa.)
  • In India, archaeologists trace the majority of the megaliths to the Iron Age (1500 BC to 500 BC), though some sites precede the Iron Age, extending up to 2000 BC.

Megaliths in India

  • Megaliths are spread across the Indian subcontinent, though the bulk of them are found in peninsular India, concentrated in the states of Maharashtra (mainly in Vidarbha), Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
  • According to archaeologists around 2,200 megalithic sites can be found in peninsular India itself, most of them unexcavated.
  • Even today, a living megalithic culture endures among some tribes such as the Gonds of central India and the Khasis of Meghalaya.

Literary sources

  • Megalithic culture finds several references in ancient Tamil Sangam literature. For instance, menhirs are referred to as nadukal.
  • Ancient Sangam texts lay out, in detail, a step-by-step procedure for laying a memorial stone or nadukal in honour of a fallen hero.
  • Manimekalai (5th century AD), the famous Sangam epic, refers to the various kinds of burials namely cremation (cuṭuvōr), post excarnation burial (iṭuvōr), burying the deceased in a pit (toṭukuḻip paṭuvōr), rock chamber or cist burial (tāḻvāyiṉ aṭaippōr), urn burial encapped with lid (tāḻiyiṟ kavippōr).
  • Even in the Sangam age (when kingship and a well-ordained society had emerged) the above modes of burials survived.

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What did Harappan people eat?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Harappan food pattern

Mains level : Not Much

The National Museum in New Delhi has hosted “The Indus dining experience” a food event based on the food pattern of Indus valley civilization.

Food of Harappans

  • Archaeological evidence from Indus Valley sites (c. 3300 BC to 1300 BC) in present-day India and Pakistan suggests that a purely vegetarian meal will not provide a complete picture of what the Harappan people ate.
  • To judge from the quantity of bones left behind, animal foods were consumed in abundance: beef, buffalo, mutton, turtles, tortoises, gharials, and river and sea fish.
  • Apart from meat, the people of the Indus Valley Civilisation grew and ate a variety of cereals and pulses.
  • There is archaeological evidence for cultivation of pea (matar), chickpea (chana), pigeon pea (tur/arhar), horse gram (chana dal) and green gram (moong).
  • Several varieties of wheat have been found at Harappan sites, as well as barley of the two-rowed and six-rowed kinds.
  • There is evidence that the Harappans cultivated Italian millet, ragi and amaranth, as well as sorghum and rice.
  • Oilseeds such as sesame, linseed, and mustard were also grown.

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Species in news: Thanatotheristes

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Thanatotheristes

Mains level : Not Much

 

Scientists have found that a dinosaur fossil, found in Alberta in Canada in 2010, belongs to a new species of tyrannosaur. They have named it Thanatotheristes, which means “reaper of death”.

Thanatotheristes

  • Tyrannosaurs were one of the largest meat-eating dinosaurs to have ever lived, with very large and high skulls, and the best known among them is the Tyrannosaurus rex, celebrated in the Jurassic Park series.
  • The 79-million-year-old fossil that the researchers have found is the oldest tyrannosaur known from northern North America.
  • Thanatotheristes preyed on large plant-eating dinosaurs such as the horned xenoceratops and the dome-headed colepiochephale.
  • The research suggests that tyrannosaurs did not have one general body type; rather different tyrannosaur species evolved distinct body sizes, skull forms and other such physical features.
  • The fossil specimen is important to understand the Late Cretaceous period, which is the period when tyrannosaurs roamed the Earth.

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Indian Institute of Heritage and Conservation

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Iconic sites mentioned in the newscard

Mains level : Ancient Indian architecture

The Union Govt. has proposed to set up an Indian Institute of Heritage and Conservation under the Ministry of Culture, and develop five archaeological sites as “iconic sites” with onsite museums in Rakhigarhi (Haryana), Hastinapur (Uttar Pradesh), Sivsagar (Assam), Dholavira (Gujarat) and Adichanallur (Tamil Nadu).

Rakhigarhi

  • Rakhigarhi in Haryana’s Hissar district is one of the most prominent and largest sites of the Harappan civilization.
  • It is one among the five known townships of the Harappan civilization in the Indian subcontinent.
  • In one of the excavations, the skeletal remains of a couple were discovered.
  • Interestingly, of the 62 graves discovered in Rakhigarhi, only this particular grave consisted of more than one skeletal remains and of individuals of the opposite sex together.

Hastinapur

  • Excavations at Hastinapur, in Meerut district of Uttar Pradesh, were led by Dr B B Lal, who was at the time Superintendent of the Excavations Branch of the ASI.
  • Hastinapur 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.
  • The sites of Hastinapur, Mathura, Kurukshetra, Barnawa, etc., are identifiable with those of the same name mentioned in the Mahabharata.
  • If that be so, the Painted Grey Ware would be associated with the early settlers on these sites, viz. The Pauravas, Panchalas, etc., who formed a part of the early Aryan stock in India.
  • Such an association may also explain the synchronism between the appearance of the Painted Grey Ware in the Ghaggar-Sutlej valleys and the probable date of the arrival of the Aryans in that area.”

Sivasagar

  • In Sivasagar, 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.
  • Another excavation site in Sivasagar district is the Garhgaon Raja’s palace. Excavation at this site was conducted during 2007-2008.
  • A burnt-brick wall running in north-south orientation was found, along with the remains of two huge circular wooden posts.

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.
  • Dholavira is unique because remains of a complete water system have been found here.
  • The people who lived there for an estimated 1,200 years during the Harappan civilization are noted for their water conservation system using rainwater harvesting techniques in an otherwise parched landscape.

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.
  • Over the years, the site has gained attention because of three important findings: the discovery of an ancient Tamil-Brahmi script on the inside of an urn containing a full human skeleton, a fragment of a broken earthenware, and the remains of living quarters.

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Nagardhan Excavations

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Vakataka Dynasty and important rulers

Mains level : Life and society during Vakataka period

 

  • Recent archaeological excavations at Nagardhan near Nagpur have provided concrete evidence on the life, religious affiliations and trade practices of the Vakataka dynasty that ruled parts of Central and South India between the third and fifth centuries.
  • After a 1,500 year-old sealing was excavated for the first time, a new study in Numismatic Digest has tried to understand the Vakataka rule under Queen Prabhavatigupta.

Nagardhan

  • Nagardhan is a large village in Nagpur district, about 6 km south of Ramtek taluka headquarters.
  • Archaeological remains were found on a surface spread over a 1 km × 1.5 km area. The researchers excavated the site during 2015-2018.
  • The existing village sits on top of the ancient habitation. The Nagardhan Fort stands south of present-day Nagardhan village.
  • This was constructed during the Gond Raja period and later renovated and re-used by the Bhosales of Nagpur during the late 18th and 19th centuries.

Importance of the excavation

  • Very little was known about the Vakatakas, the Shaivite rulers of Central India between the third and fifth centuries.
  • All that was known about the dynasty, believed to hail from the Vidarbha region, was largely through some literature and copperplates.
  • There were assumptions that the excavated site of Nagardhan is the same as Nandhivardhan, the capital city of the eastern branch of the Vakatakas.
  • It was after archaeological evidence from here that Nagardhan was understood to have served as a capital of the Vakataka kingdom.

The seals so found

  • It is the first time clay sealings have been excavated from Nagardhan.
  • The oval-shaped sealing belongs to the period when Prabhavatigupta was the queen of the Vakataka dynasty.
  • It bears her name in the Brahmi script along with the depiction of a conch.
  • The presence of the conch, scholars say, is a sign of the Vaishnava affiliation that the Guptas held.
  • The sealing was traced on top of a mega wall that researchers now think could have been part of a royal structure at the capital city of the kingdom.

Who was Queen Prabhavatigupta?

  • The copperplate issued by Queen Prabhavatigupta starts with a genealogy of the Guptas, mentioning the Queen’s grandfather Samudragupta and her father Chandragupta II.
  • These are strong indicators of Vaishnava signatures on the royal seals of the Vakatakas reiterate that Queen Prabhavatigupta was indeed a powerful woman ruler.
  • Since the Vakataka people traded with Iran and beyond through the Mediterranean Sea, scholars suggest that these sealings could have been used as official royal permission issued from the capital city.
  • Besides, these were used on documents that sought mandatory royal permissions.

Why are the findings on Queen Prabhavatigupta significant?

  • Scholars say Queen Prabhavatigupta was among a handful of women rulers in India to have reigned over any kingdom during ancient times.
  • The Vakataka rulers were known to have forged several matrimonial alliances with other dynasties of their times.
  • One of the key alliances was with Prabhavatigupta of the mighty Gupta dynasty, which was then ruling north India. The Guptas were way more powerful than the Vakatakas.
  • After marrying Vakataka king Rudrasena II, Prabhavatigupta enjoyed the position of Chief Queen.
  • When she took over the Vakataka kingdom, after the sudden demise of Rudrasena II, her stature as a woman Vakataka ruler rose significantly.
  • This is evident from the fact that the sealings were introduced and issued during her period as a ruler, that too from the capital city of Nagardhan.

Why is the sign of Vaishnava affiliation important?

  • The Vakataka rulers followed the Shaiva sect of Hinduism while the Guptas were staunch Vaishnavites.
  • Excavators say that many religious structures indicating affinity to the Vaishnava sect, and found in Ramtek, were built during the reign of Queen Prabhavatigupta.
  • While she was married into a family that belonged to the Shaiva sect, the queen’s powers allowed her to choose a deity of worship, that is, Lord Vishnu.

What else has been excavated from Nagardhan so far?

  • Earlier results from the excavations here had traced evidence in the form of ceramics, ear studs of glass, antiquities, bowls and pots, a votive shrine and tank, an iron chisel, a stone depicting a deer, and terracotta bangles.
  • Some terracotta objects even depicted images of gods, animals and humans, along with amulets, scotches, wheels, skin rubbers and spindle whorls.
  • An intact idol of Lord Ganesha, which had no ornaments adorned, too was found from the site.
  • This confirmed that the elephant god was a commonly worshipped deity in those times.
  • On the means of living of the Vakataka people, researchers found animal rearing to be one of the main occupations.
  • Remains of seven species of domestic animals — cattle, goat, sheep, pig, cat, horse and fowl — were traced in an earlier study by the team.

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Species in news: Jeholbaatar kielanae

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Jeholbaatar kielanae

Mains level : Not Much


  • Researchers have unearthed well-preserved middle ear bones from a new species of an extinct rodent that lived 145-66 million years ago in northeastern China.
  • This finding may lead to better understanding of the evolution of hearing.

Jeholbaatar kielanae

  • The study looked at fossils of the extinct rodent-like mammal — Jeholbaatar kielanae — at Jehol Biota of China, and noted that these animals had a middle ear that is distinct from those of its relatives.
  • The evolution of the rodent’s bones and muscles involved in hearing may have been driven by specialisation for hearing.
  • The fossil clues provide solid evidence of the morphology and formation of the inner ear bones, which are fully detached from the lower jaw.
  • In these extinct mammals, the evolution of the middle ear may have probably been triggered by functional constraints on the bones and muscles involved in feeding.

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Excavations at Karim Shahi region, Kutch

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Various facts associated with IVC, Dark Age

Mains level : Read the attached story


A recent study has revealed that a large river once flew across the Great Rann of Kachchh and the sand hills of Thar Desert.

Karim Shahi region

  • The items collected from the Karim Shahi region revealed that humans occupied that region from Early Iron Age to the Early Historic (3,100 – 2,300 years) period.
  • This period was considered to be archaeologically silent and was often marked as ‘Dark Age’ as there was no evidence of settlements.

Possible migrants from IVC

  • The Bronze age Indus Valley civilization started declining around 4,000 years and finally collapsed at 3,300 years before present.
  • After that they might have learned iron smelting which needed better skills yet no large scale organised cities have been found during the Iron Age.
  • At another site called Vigakot, the team also found evidence of Historic to Medieval (about 1,500 – 900 years old) settlement.
  • The geological explorations has found artefacts like pitchers, jewellery, jars, figurines.
  • Using modern luminescence and radiocarbon methods, the team tried to date them, which revealed that these items were the earliest to be found in the presently arid Rann of Kutch and the Thar Desert.

Who were these people?

  • The Karim Shahi region was found to be very close to sea-level and based on the artefacts collected it has been pointed out that this region could have been a local trade center.
  • The people are believed to have traded jewellery and pottery.
  • Also, Chinese and Persian pottery were found at the Vigakot site indicating that it was a hub for a long-distance trade both through sea and land from China through India to West Asia.

But how did settlements continue in presently arid landscape?

  • Monsoon was declining from about 7,000 years ago and this climate change was already causing an exodus.
  • Harappan people already adopted water conservation techniques in their own ways. But the migration perhaps continued beyond, from Early Iron Age till medieval time.
  • Sedimentological observation revealed that below these settlements, there was evidence of riverine system.
  • Carbon isotopes and pollens in these sediments revealed that there was gradual increase in grasslands and plant communities that thrive in arid environments.
  • Data suggested that aridification continued and people inhabited wherever some rainfall or river system existed. And all these happened probably due to natural monsoon decrease.

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[pib] Excavation by ASI in Gottiprolu, Andhra Pradesh

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Minutes of the excavations

Mains level : Pre-historic trade activities in India

  • The 1st phase of excavation by a team of ASI at Gottiprolu near Naidupeta in Nellore (now renamed as Sri Potti Sri Ramulu) district, AP has discovered the remains of a huge settlement surrounded by a massive brick enclosure.

About the Site

  • The site of Gottiprolu lies on the right bank of a distributary of river Swarnamukhi about seventeen kilometers east of Naidupet and eighty kilometers from Tirupati and Nellore.
  • Detailed topographical study and drone images have helped in identifying an early historic settlement surrounded by a fortification and the possibility of a moat encircling it.
  • The fortification is very much clear on the eastern and southern sides of the mound while its other arm seems to have been leveled as a result of modern settlements.
  • The excavation revealed the presence of brick-built structures in different sizes and forms.
  • Other major retrieved antiquities unearthed are copper and lead coins, iron spearhead, stone celts, terracotta beads, ear stud in semi precious stone and hopscotches.

How old is the site?

  • The available brick sizes (43 – 48 cms) are comparable with the Satavahana / Ikshvaku period structures in Krishna valley i.e. Amaravati and Nagarjunakonda.
  • On the basis of the brick size and associated findings they can be placed anywhere between 2nd – 1st century BCE or little later (nearly 2000 years old).

Various discoveries

Brick enclosure wall

  • The most outstanding discovery is of massive sized brick enclosure wall at the southern part of the mound.

  • This structure is of baked bricks and exposed to a length of more than 75 meters with an average width of about 3.40 meters, which rise to a height of nearly 2 meters and runs in a curvilinear pattern towards the northern end of the mound.
  • Another interesting find is the small rectangular brick tank exposed near the inner lining of the curved brick structure.

Stone Vishnu Idol

  • Subsequent excavations conducted around the image revealed it to be a life size image of Vishnu measuring about 2 meters in height.
  • It displays a four-armed Vishnu standing over a pedestal carrying chakra and conch in his upper right and left hands respectively.
  • The lower right is in bestowing boon and the left hand in katihastha (resting on the hip) posture.
  • The iconographical feature like the elaborate headgear, thick holy thread and decorative drapery dates it to Pallava period (circa 8th CE).

Female terracotta figurine

  • Other interesting antiquity retrieved is the molded female terracotta figurine with two hands lifted upwards.

Conical Jars

  • Interesting pottery finds are the base of conical jars placed at the eastern side of the structure.
  • Such conical jars are widely distributed in Tamil Nadu and considered to be imitated variety of Roman Amphorae jars.
  • A series of broken terracotta pipes fitted into one another revealed about the civic amenities maintained by the occupants of this site.

Drainage system

  • The drainage system pattern is understood by the exposed remains of the drainage at the site.
  • The findings of assorted stone tools of Palaeolithic and Neolithic periods from secondary contexts suggest that prehistoric people also occupied this area.

Significance of the site

  • These settlements could have been an important trade centre as indicated by the presence of imitated amphorae wares that were mostly used to transport liquid commodities.
  • The proximity of the site to the seacoast suggests that the site could have served as a strategic settlement involved in maritime trade. Further research will reveal interesting facts about the site as trade centre.
  • Explorations conducted in and around Gottiprolu within a radius of 15 kilometers revealed important vestiges viz., fortified early historic settlement at Puduru, Sunbrahmanya temple at Mallam, unique rock-cut laterite stepped well at Yakasiri, Vishnu temple at Tirumuru.
  • Further the entire seacoast on the east is dotted with various forms of antiquarian remains extending from Tamil Nadu and culturally linked with each other.
  • The two fortified townships within the gap of 15kms during early historic times indicates the significant strategic location was preferred by the early historic people for trade in the region keeping in view of proximity of the sea, River and Lake Pulicat.

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Sangam era older than previously thought, finds study

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Sangam Age, Literature

Mains level : Sangam Age

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.

Back2Basics

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.

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

New reports clearly confirm ‘Aryan’ migration into India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Various sites of IVC

Mains level : Theory of Aryan Origin


  • ‘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

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Cryodrakon boreas: the largest flying animal

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Cryodrakon boreas

Mains level : Not Much


  • 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.

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No Central Asian ancestry in Indus Valley Civilization

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Various sites of IVC

Mains level : Theory of Aryan Origin

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  • 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.

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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.

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

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Notable works by Firoz Shah Tughlaq

Mains level : Major happenings in his reign


  • 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.

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[pib] Museum Grant Scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Museum Grant Scheme

Mains level : Not Much

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.

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[pib] National Archives of India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : National Archives of India

Mains level : Not Much


  • 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.

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Sadikpur Sinauli site expected to get ‘national importance’ tag

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Harrapan Sites

Mains level : Read the attached story


  • 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.

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Rare life-size stucco figurine unearthed in Telangana

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ikshavaku dynasty, Stucco

Mains level : Ancient Buddhist art

  • 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.

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Domkhar Rock Art Sanctuary

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level :  Domkhar Rock Art Sanctuary

Mains level : Pre-historic rock art

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.

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Excavations in Kutch shed light on early Harappan custom

Note4students

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


News

  • 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.

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The Indian Museum of the Earth (TIME)

Note4students

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


News

  • 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.

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

Note4students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: ICHR

Mains level: Better governance and management of historical research


News

  • 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.

Objectives

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

Composition  

  • 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.

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What a Harappan grave says about marriage

Note4students

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


News

  • 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.

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aamadmi
aamadmi
2 years ago

Thank you cd