Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Was the Stone Age actually the Age of Wood?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Wood Age; Schoningen Wooden Artefacts; Prehistory vs. History; Christian Jorgensen Thomsen’s classification

Why in the News?

New research suggests the Stone Age be termed the “Wood Age” due to advanced wooden tools found in Schoningen, Germany.

About Schoningen Wooden Artefacts

  • A study of around 300,000-400,000-year-old wooden artefacts excavated from a coal mine in Schoningen, Germany, between 1994 and 2008.
  • It reveals that these were not merely “sharpened sticks” but “technologically advanced tools” requiring skill, precision, and time to build.
  • The tools demonstrated a broad spectrum of wood-working techniques including splitting, scraping or abrasion.

Back2Basics: Periodising Human Prehistory

  • Prehistory vs. History: Human ‘history’ began with the advent of writing, while everything before that is ‘prehistory,’ studied using archaeological evidence and ethnographic research.
  • 19th Century Periodization: Danish archaeologist Christian Jorgensen Thomsen introduced the Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age classification based on technological advancements. This classification has been refined to reflect diverse cultural experiences.

The Stone Age Timeline

  • Beginning: The Stone Age began when hominids first used stone tools, around 3.4 million years ago in Ethiopia, and lasted until about 6,000-4,000 BP (Before Present).
  • Divisions: The Stone Age is divided into:
  1. Palaeolithic (Old Stone Age): Characterized by rudimentary stone tools and a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, ending around 11,650 BP.
  2. Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age): A transitional phase.
  3. Neolithic (New Stone Age): Beginning roughly 12,000 BP in West Asia, marked by settled agriculture and domestication of animals.

Use of Wood: Preservation Bias and Archaeological Evidence

  • Stone Tools: Stone tools provide significant insight into the lives and capabilities of early humans. Charles Darwin noted that even the rudest stone tools required a high degree of mental sophistication and physical dexterity.
  • Other Materials: Evidence shows the use of bones, antlers, clay, and some metalworking alongside stone tools. However, evidence of woodworking is limited due to wood’s perishable nature.
  • Lesser Evidence of Wood: Wood has been recovered from less than 10 of thousands of Lower Palaeolithic sites (up to around 200,000 BP). The earliest wooden dwellings date to only 700,000 BP, much later than the earliest stone tools.

PYQ:

[2021] With reference to the period of the Gupta dynasty in ancient India, the towns Ghantasala, Kadura and Chaul 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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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

The Battle of Udagai: Cholas vs. Cheras

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Battle of Udagai, Reign of Raja Raja I (Rajaraja Chola) and his achievements

Why in the news?

  • The southern part of India historically ruled by the Chera, Chola, and Pandya kings, was known for its great literature, art, culture, and temple architecture.
  • It also witnessed fierce battles among these kingdoms led by Raja Raja I.

Who was Raja Raja I?

  • His reign marked a golden era for the Chola Empire through extensive military conquests, administrative reforms, and cultural patronage.
  • Ponniyin Selvan (The Son of Ponni) is a Tamil language historical fiction novel with the story of the early days of Prince Raja Raja I (also called Arulmozhivarman).

Here are detailed facts and key events from the reign of Raja Raja I:

Background and Ascension to the Throne:

  • Full Name: Arulmozhivarman, popularly known as Raja Raja Chola I.
  • Reign:
    • He reigned from 985 AD to 1014 AD, taking the throne following the death of his father Sundara Chola.
    • He was succeeded by Rajendra I.

Military Conquests:

Raja Raja I embarked on several military campaigns that significantly expanded the Chola Empire.

  • He conquered parts of what is now Tamil Nadu, northern parts of Sri Lanka, and the Maldives, consolidating the Chola influence across the region.
  • His most notable military achievement was the conquest of the ancient Chera capital of Mahodayapuram and the invasion of Sri Lanka, where he captured the northern half of the island.
  • Nagapattinam Port was his major naval base.
  • His success allowed his son Rajendra Chola to lead the Chola invasion of Srivijaya (Sumatra) and Kadaram (Malaysia).

Administrative Reforms:

  • He streamlined the administrative structure of the empire with precise revenue collection and management systems.
  • He implemented a well-organized provincial administration with efficient governance, dividing his empire into various provinces under the control of local governors.

Cultural Contributions and Temple Building:

Raja Raja I was a great patron of the arts and architecture. Under his reign, Chola architecture and Tamil literature flourished.

  • Construction of the Brihadeeswara Temple in Thanjavur (Dravidian style).
  • Completed in 1010 AD
  • He also supported the revival of Hinduism and promoted Shaivism, actively endowing temples and supporting the livelihood of the temple priests. He called himself Shivapada Shekhara’.
  • He also allowed for the flourishing of other religious practices for example Vaishnavism and Buddhism.

Trade and Diplomacy:

  • His reign saw an increase in trade and diplomatic contacts with far-off kingdoms, including those in Southeast Asia.
  • The Chola navy played a crucial role in protecting and enhancing trade routes in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.
  • To promote trade, Rajaraja sent the first Chola mission to China.

About the Battle of Udagai/Udayagiri

  • It occurred in 1003 CE between the Cholas and the Cheras at Udagai, now known as Udayagiri in Kalkulam taluk of Kanniyakumari district, during the reign of Raja Raja I, the greatest of Chola kings.
  • It was the bloodiest war in medieval Indian history, where the Cholas plundered Udagai and returned to their headquarters in Thanjavur with tonnes of gold and the best elephants.
  • The battle began with the conquest of Kanthalur Salai in the Chera Kingdom.
  • The Chola army was led by Raja Raja’s son Rajendra.

Evidence from Epigraphy

  • The Discovery of a Chola period epigraphy near Chengam suggests that Salai was an army training centre run by the Cheras.
  • The training centre was a challenge to the Cholas.
  • The battle marked the end of the relationship between the Cholas and the Cheras, which had been established through marriages.

Aftermath of the War

  • The battles terminated the relationship between the Cholas and Cheras during the reign of Rajendra Chola.
  • In 1004 CE, Raja Raja celebrated his birthday grandly in the Chera kingdom, renaming the village Muttam as Mummudi Chola Nalloor.
  • He granted the temple at Thirunanthikarai for a seven-day celebration of his birthday.
  • Subsequently, he returned to Thanjavur with gold, elephants, and cattle.
  • Kamban Manian, a Chola general, brought a Shiva idol made of emerald to Thirupazhanam near Thanjavur, though it is no longer found there.

PYQ:

[2020] Consider the following events in the history of India:

  1. Rise of Pratiharas under King Bhoja.
  2. Establishment of Pallava power under Mahendravarman-I.
  3. Establishment of Chola power by Parantaka-I.
  4. Pala dynasty founded by Gopala.

What is the correct chronological order of the above events, starting from the earliest time?

(a) 2 – 1 – 4 – 3

(b) 3 – 1 – 4 – 2

(c) 2 – 4 – 1 – 3

(d) 3 – 4 – 1 – 2

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Vasuki Indicus: 50ft Snake Fossil Found in Gujarat

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Vasuki Indicus, Madtsoiidae snake family, Panandhro Lignite Mine, Middle Eocene Period

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

A fossil unearthed in Gujarat’s Kutch in 2005, initially presumed to belong to a giant crocodile, has been revealed as one of the largest snake ‘Vasuki Indicus’ ever to exist on Earth.

About Vasuki Indicus

  • ‘Vasuki Indicus’ is the name given by IIT Roorkee Scientists to the fossil specie.
  • The name “Vasuki” derives from the mythological snake depicted often encircling the neck of the Hindu deity Shiva.

Physical characteristics of Vasuki

  • It is estimated to measure between 11m (36ft) and 15m (49.22ft) in length,
  • It belonged to the extinct Madtsoiidae snake family.
    • Its size could potentially surpass the extinct Titanoboa in size, with its closest relatives identified as Titanoboa and Python.
  • The serpent’s large size indicates it was a slow-moving, ambush predator, akin to an anaconda, as suggested by researchers.
    • Like contemporary pythons and anacondas, Vasuki Indicus presumably employed Constriction (suffocation) as its primary method of prey capture.

Age and Geological Context:

  • Recovered from the Panandhro Lignite Mine in Kutch, the fossil dates back to the Middle Eocene period, approximately 47 million years ago.
  • Analysis of the well-preserved vertebrae indicates the snake’s existence during a warm geological interval with average temperatures estimated at 28°C.
  • ‘Vasuki’ is believed to represent an extinct relic lineage originating in India, with subsequent India-Asia collision facilitating its dispersal from the subcontinent into North Africa through southern Eurasia.
    • Vasuki thrived during a time when the continents of Africa, India, and South America were amalgamated into a single landmass.

Significance for India

  • This discovery underscores India’s rich biodiversity.
  • It holds immense potential in unraveling insights into the evolutionary process, continental shifts, and India’s pivotal role in the origin of various species, particularly reptiles.

Middle Eocene Period

  • It is part of the Cenozoic Era, which began about 66 million years ago and continues to the present day.
  • During the Middle Eocene, the Earth experienced a greenhouse climate, with global temperatures significantly warmer than today.
  • The poles were ice-free, and forests extended into higher latitudes than they do today.
  • The period was characterized by relatively high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, contributing to the warm climate.
  • The Middle Eocene was a time of significant diversification and evolution of various groups of organisms.
  • Mammals continued to diversify and evolve, with the emergence of early primates, rodents, and hoofed mammals.
  • The period also saw the rise of modern bird groups and the diversification of flowering plants (angiosperms).
  • The Middle Eocene was marked by tectonic activity, including the ongoing separation of continents and the formation of mountain ranges in various parts of the world.
  • For example, the collision of the Indian Plate with the Eurasian Plate during this time led to the uplift of the Himalayas.

 

PYQ:

[2020] The word ‘Denisovan’ is sometimes mentioned in media in reference to-

(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 the Indian subcontinent

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Iron Age Megalithic Sites discovered in Telangana

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Iron Age in India; Transition period of Mahajanpadas

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

  • Archaeologists in Telangana have found Iron Age megalithic sites, including various structures such as large stone monuments and places with rock paintings.
  • These discoveries provide important information about the ancient civilizations that once lived in the area.

Iron Age in India

  • India’s Iron Age ranged from approximately 1200 BCE to 200 BCE.
  • It was marked by the emergence of new archaeological cultures, including the megalithic cultures, Painted Grey Ware culture (1300–300 BCE), and the Northern Black Polished Ware (700–200 BCE).
  • This period corresponds to the transition from the Janapadas (principalities) of the Vedic period to the 16 Mahajanapadas (region-states) of the early historic period.
  • This transition culminated in the emergence of the Maurya Empire toward the end of the Iron Age.
  • Ironworking was prevalent in the Central Ganga Plain and the Eastern Vindhyas from the early second millennium BCE.
  • Sites:
  1. North India: Malhar, Dadupur, Raja Nala Ka Tila, Lahuradewa, Kosambi and Jhusi, Allahabad in present-day Uttar Pradesh.
  2. South India: Earliest Iron Age sites include Hallur in Karnataka and Adichanallur in Tamil Nadu, dating to around 1000 BCE. Mahurjhari near Nagpur was a significant site for bead manufacturing.
  • The Indian Iron Age ended coinciding with other significant events such as the decline of the Mauryan Empire and the spread of Buddhism.

 

About the Ooragutta Megalithic Site

  • The site boasts over 200 megalithic monuments, although the exact count remains uncertain due to the dense forest and hilly terrain.
  • They are characterized by squarish or rectangular shapes, the structures at Ooragutta exhibit unique features.

Dolmenoid Cists

  • The newly discovered monuments, termed “Dolmenoid Cists,” feature side slabs arranged to mirror the shape of the cap-stone, resulting in each cist having a distinct shape dictated by the cap-stone.
  • These monuments are estimated to date back to around 1,000 BCE.

Rock Art Sites at Damaratogu

  • Two new rock art sites have been discovered at Damaratogu in Gundala mandal of Bhadradri Kothagudem district.
  • One of these sites, known as Devarlabanda Mula, exclusively depicts animals and NO humans, in a rock painting.
  • It suggests a cultural significance possibly related to hunting or animal worship.
  • The absence of weapons or domestic animals in the paintings indicates that these artworks may belong to the Mesolithic age, dating anywhere between 8000 – 3000 BCE.

Significance of Discoveries

  • These monuments resemble to “Passage Chambers” found in Europe.
  • This discovery sheds light on previously unknown architectural styles in the region and offers insights into the evolution of megalithic practices.

PYQ:

[2021] Consider the following pairs: ​

(Historical place) (Well-known for)​

  1. Burzahom : Rock-cut shrines​
  2. Chandraketugarh : Terracotta art​
  3. Ganeshwar : Copper artefacts​

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

(a) 1 only

(b) 1 and 2 only

(c) 3 only

(d) 2 and 3 only

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Bhojshala-Kamal Maula Complex Dispute

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Bhojshala-Kamal Maula Complex, Reign of Mihir Bhoja, Gurjara-Pratihara dynasty and its contemporaries

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

The Supreme Court has issued a cautionary note to Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) barring any physical excavation that could alter the character of the Bhojshala-Kamal Maula Complex.

About Bhojshala Complex

Details
Location Dhar district, Madhya Pradesh.
Historical Background Established by Raja Bhoj, the greatest ruler of the Parmar dynasty, as an educational institute.
Date of Establishment 11th century.
Transformation Originally a Goddess Wagdevi (Saraswati temple), later converted into Kamal Maulana Mosque by Muslim rulers.
Architectural Features
  • Large open courtyard (Mahaāyata);
  • Verandah with decorated pillars (Sthāpanā);
  • Prayer hall with intricately carved ceilings (Shikharākāra).
Inscriptions
  • Two hymns depicting the Karmavatar of Vishnu (Avatār);
  • Sarpabandha pillar inscriptions with Sanskrit alphabet and grammatical rules (Vyākaraṇa).
Archaeological Significance Protected by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) as an 11th-century monument under Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958

Controversy over Bhojshala Complex

  • Religious Claims: Hindus regard the site as the temple of Goddess Wagdevi (Saraswati), while Muslims believe it to be the Kamal Maula mosque.
  • Usage Agreement: The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) allows Hindus to pray on Tuesdays and Vasant Panchami, and Muslims to offer namaz on Fridays,

Recent Developments

  • Vasant Panchami Dispute: A recent order allowing Hindus to worship during Basant Panchami hours led to discontent among some Right-wing activists.
  • Demand for Extended Access: Hindu groups demand all-day access to the shrine on such occasions, leading to protests and petitions filed in the High Court.

 

Who was Raja Bhoj?

Details
Original name Raja Bhoja (Mihir Bhoja)
Dynasty Gurjara-Pratihara
Reign 836 – 885 AD
Rise to Prominence Emerged as the paramount power in northern India, defeating rivals like the Palas and Rashtrakutas
Capital Kannauj (Mahodaya)
Military Strength Possessed India’s strongest cavalry, as noted by Arab traveller Sulaiman
Title Assumed the title of “Adivaraha”; referred to as “King Baura” by Arab travellers
Religious Affiliation Great follower of Vaishnavism
Acknowledgment of Supremacy Acknowledged as supreme by various factions, including Arabs of Sindh, Chandalas, and Kalachuris
Notable Feats Triumph over Pala king Devapala and Rashtrakuta king Amoghavarsha
Legacy Renowned for his wisdom, military prowess, and patronage of Vaishnavism
Historical Significance Marked the zenith of the Gurjara-Pratihara dynasty, leaving a lasting impact on Indian history

 

PYQ:

[2021] With reference to Chausath Yogini Temple situated near Morena, consider the following statements:​

  1. It is a circular temple built during the reign of Kachchhapaghata Dynasty.​
  2. It is the only circular temple built in India.​
  3. I was meant to promote the Vaishnava cult in the region.​
  4. Its design has given rise to a popular belief that it was the inspiration behind the Indian Parliament building. ​

Which of the statements given above are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 4 only

(d) 2, 3 and 4 only

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Ikshvaku Period Lead Coins unearthed in Phanigiri

Why in the news?

  • Telangana’s Department of Heritage has recently unearthed a lead coin hoard belonging to Ikshvaku Period at Phanigiri, a renowned Buddhist heritage site.
  • The coins numbering 3,730 bore an elephant symbol on the obverse and a Ujjain symbol on the reverse.

Who were the Ikshvaku (225-340 A.D)?

  1. Origin and Rule
  • The Ikshvaku dynasty was a feudatory under the patronage of the Satavahanas.
  • Their capital was located at Vijayapuri, modern-day Nagarjunakonda in Andhra Pradesh.
  • They ruled over the delta of the Krishna and Godavari rivers on the east coast of the Andhra region.
  • They claimed to be descendants of the legendary king Ikshvaku, mentioned in ancient Sanskrit texts such as the Rigveda and Ramayana.
  • The dynasty’s founder was Vasishthiputra Chamtamula, who rose to power after the decline of the Satavahana dynasty.
  1. Cultural Affiliations
  • The Ikshvakus were Shaivites and performed Vedic rites, but they also patronized Buddhism, which flourished during their reign.
  • Under the reign of Vasishthi-putra Ehuvala Chamtamula, the Ikshvaku kingdom reached its zenith, marked by the construction of numerous Hindu and Buddhist shrines.
  • Their inscriptions and coins have been discovered at various archaeological sites, including Nagarjunakonda, Jaggayyapeta, Kottampalugu, Gurazala, Rentala, and Uppugunduru.
  1. Decline:
  • Successive rulers, such as Mathari-putra Vira-purusha-datta, Vasishthi-putra Ehuvala Chamtamula, and Vasishthi-putra Rudra-purusha-datta, contributed to the expansion and governance of the kingdom.
  • By the mid-4th century, the Pallavas had gained control of the former Ikshvaku territory, marking the decline of the dynasty.

About Phanigiri

  • Phanigiri village derived its name from the shape of the hillock, which appears to be like a snake hood.
  • The word Phani in Sanskrit means snake and Giri means hillock.
  • Studies suggest that the village had a vibrant life from 1000 BC to 18th century AD.
  • Phanigiri is believed to be one of the important Buddhist monasteries strategically located on the hilltop, on the ancient trade route (Dakshinapatha) connecting the west and the east coast of the Deccan.
  • Various stages of earlier excavations here discovered Mahastupa, apsidal Chaityagrihas, Votive stupas, pillared congregation halls, Viharas, platforms with staircases at various levels, octagonal stupa chaitya, 24-pillared mandapam, circular Chaitya.
  • Cultural materials included terracotta beads, semi-precious beads, iron objects, Brahmi label inscriptions and holy relic casket.

 

 

PYQ:

[2017] How do you justify the view that the level of excellence of Gupta Numismatic Art is not at all noticeable in later times?

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Rakhigarhi findings to be mentioned in NCERT books

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: DNA Findings of Rakhigarhi, IVC

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has proposed to add information about the DNA analysis of skeletal remains found at Rakhigarhi.

DNA Findings of Rakhigarhi

Their key findings include-

  • Debunking of the Aryan Invasion Theory.
  • The genetic roots of the Harappans date back to 10,000 BCE.
  • DNA of the Harappans has continued to exist among the majority of the South Asian population.
  • The study indicates genetic continuity without large-scale immigration.
  • Ancestry was closely linked to Iranian ancestry and not at all to Steppe ancestry.
  • Farming skills have been developed indigenously contrary to prevalent theories that these came with migrants from the Steppes and Anatolian farmers.

About Rakhigarhi

  • 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.
  • Total seven mounds are located here.
  • The site has yielded various stages of Harappan culture and is by far one of the largest Harappan sites in India.
  • The site shows the sequential development of the Indus culture in the now dried-up Saraswati basin.

Major findings at Rakhigarhi

  • 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 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.

PYQ:

[2021] Which one of the following ancient towns is well-known for its elaborate system of water harvesting and management by building a series of dams and channelizing water into connected reservoirs?​

(a) Dholavira

(b) Kalibangan

(c) Rakhigarhi

(d) Ropar

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Archaeological Survey of India will ‘Delist’ some ‘Lost’ monuments. What’s happening, and why?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Art and Culture; Heritage Monuments in News;

Mains level: Art and Culture; Conservation of Historical Monuments; ASI;

Why in the news?

Recently, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has decided to delist 18 “centrally protected monuments” because according to them, they lag in National Importance.

 

What does the “Delisting” of monuments mean?

  • Delisting means that the monument will no longer be protected, conserved, or maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).  Once delisted, the restrictions on construction-related activities around the monument are lifted. 
  • Legal Mandate: Section 35 of the AMASR Act outlines the process for delisting monuments. It empowers the Central Government to declare, via official notification, that a monument no longer holds national importance, thereby removing its protected status.

Delisted Monuments: Kos Minar No.13 at Mujessar village in Haryana, Barakhamba Cemetery in Delhi, Gunner Burkill’s tomb in Jhansi district, a cemetery at Gaughat in Lucknow, and the Telia Nala Buddhist ruins in Varanasi.

Challenges for the Archaeological Survey of India due to “untraceable” monument:

    • Survival issue: Some monuments, especially smaller or lesser-known ones, have been lost over time due to various factors such as urbanization, encroachments, neglect, and construction activities like dams and reservoirs.  
  • Among the 50 missing monuments, 14 had been lost to rapid urbanization, 12 were submerged by reservoirs or dams, and the remaining 24 were untraceable. 
  • Difficulty in Locating Monuments:  This could be due to factors like inadequate documentation, lack of historical records, changes in the landscape, or complete disappearance of the structure.
  • Issue with Preservation and Conservation:  Without knowing the monument’s location, it cannot be regularly inspected, assessed for its condition, or protected from encroachments or other forms of damage.
    • Despite the recognized need for 7,000 security personnel, only 2,578 were deployed due to financial limitations.
  • Therefore, ASI faces challenges in fulfilling this responsibility effectively, especially when dealing with monuments that are untraceable due to historical neglect or lack of resources.

How many historical monuments have been lost in this way?

  • According to the Ministry of Culture’s submission to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism, and Culture in December 2022, a total of 50 out of India’s 3,693 centrally protected monuments were missing.
  • In 2013, a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India highlighted the issue of missing monuments. The report stated that at least 92 centrally protected monuments across the country were missing.  

Conclusion: The ASI has decided to delist 18 centrally protected monuments that are deemed to have lost national importance. This delisting means these monuments will no longer receive protection or conservation from the ASI.


Mains PYQs

Q Safeguarding the Indian art heritage is the need of the moment. Comment  (UPSC IAS/2018)

 

 

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

50,000-year-old Magnetic Fossils found in Bay of Bengal

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Magnetofossils, Magnetotactic bacteria

Mains level: NA

What is the news?

Scientists from the CSIR-National Institute of Oceanography, Goa have found in the Bay of Bengal a 50,000-year-old sediment containing giant magnetofossils, shedding light on ancient geological conditions.

What are Magnetofossils?

  • Magnetofossils are fossilized magnetic particles created by magnetotactic bacteria, aiding scientists in understanding past environmental conditions.
  • Described initially in the 1960s and 1970s, magnetotactic bacteria utilize iron-rich minerals to navigate the Earth’s magnetic field, leaving behind distinctive fossil remnants.
  • These unique creatures were first described in 1963, by Salvatore Bellini, an Italian doctor and then again in 1975 by Richard Blakemore of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts.
  • These organisms were believed to follow the magnetic field to reach places that had optimal oxygen concentration.
  • Using an electron microscope, Blakemore found the bacteria contained “novel structured particles, rich in iron” in small sacs that essentially worked as a compass.
  • These magnetotactic bacteria create tiny crystals made of the iron-rich minerals magnetite or greigite, aiding them in navigating changing oxygen levels in the water body they reside in.

Special Attributes of Bay of Bengal Sediment

  • Previous studies on magnetofossils often ascertained their origins to be hyperthermal vents, comet impacts, changes in oceanic ventilation, weathering or the presence of oxygen-poor regions.
  • Sediments deposited at the core site originate from the Godavari, Krishna, and Penner Rivers, highlighted on the map.

Findings of the Study

  • Scientific Approach: In the study, combined magnetic analyses and electron microscopy to study the sediment sample.
  • Sediment Characteristics: The three-metre-long sediment core from the southwestern Bay of Bengal consisted mainly of “pale green silty clays,” they wrote in their paper. They also reported finding abundant benthic and planktic foraminifera — single-celled organisms with shells found near the sea bed and free-floating in water.
  • Microscopic Revelations: High-resolution transmission electron microscopy revealed the fossil to be in the shape of needles, spindles, bullets, and spearheads.
  • Environmental Insights: Earlier, studies of sediments suggested that nearly 29,000 to 11,700 years ago, during the last Glacial Maximum-Holocene period, the northeast and southwest monsoon strengthened and resulted in significant weathering and sedimentation.

 


PYQ:

Consider the following kinds of organisms:

  1. Copepods
  2. Cyanobacteria
  3. Diatoms
  4. Foraminifera

Which of the above are primary producers in the food chains of oceans?

  1. 1 and 2
  2. 2 and 3
  3. 3 and 4
  4. 1 and 4

Practice MCQ:

Which of the following statements is correct about the ‘Magnetofossils’?

  1. They are fossilized magnetic particles created by magnetotactic bacteria.
  2. They follow the magnetic field to reach places that have optimal oxygen concentration.
  3. They are tiny crystals made of the iron-rich minerals magnetite or greigite.
  4. All of these.

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Monuments of National Importance (MNI) and their Listing/De-Listing

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Monuments of National Importance (MNI)

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

  • The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has decided to remove 18 “centrally protected monuments” from its list of Monuments of National Importance (MNI), citing a lack of national significance.
  • ASI currently has 3,693 monuments under its purview, which will fall to 3,675 once the current delisting exercise is completed in the next few weeks.

What are Monuments of National Importance (MNI)?

  • MNI in India are legally protected under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act, 1958.
  • This act empowers the Centre to declare certain monuments as MNIs through official notifications published in the Gazette of India.
  • It mandates the protection, preservation, and maintenance of MNIs to ensure their integrity and authenticity for future generations.
  • The Act empowers the central government to appoint authorities, such as the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), to oversee the protection and management of MNIs.

Key Features of MNI Protection

  • Prohibited Activities: The Act prohibits certain activities within the precincts of MNIs, such as construction, excavation, and removal of artifacts, without prior permission from the relevant authorities.
  • Designated Zones: Within a 100-meter radius of the monument, construction activities are prohibited to prevent encroachment and damage. An additional 200-meter radius (100 + 200 meters) constitutes a regulated area where construction is subject to specific regulations to maintain the monument’s integrity and surroundings.
  • Maintenance of Records: The Act requires the maintenance of records and registers documenting the history, conservation, and management of MNIs.

Understanding Monument Delisting

  • Once delisted, monuments are no longer subject to ASI conservation efforts, allowing for regular construction activities in the vicinity.
  • Section 35 of the AMASR Act allows for the delisting of monuments deemed to have lost national importance.
  • The delisting process involves official notifications, with a two-month public feedback period to address objections or suggestions.

 


PYQ:

2015: With reference to art and archaeological history of India, which one among the following was made earliest?

  1. Lingaraja Temple at Bhubaneswar
  2. Rock-cut Elephant at Dhauli
  3. Rock-cut Monuments at Mahabalipuram
  4. Varaha Image at Udayagiri

 

Practice MCQ:

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has decided to remove 18 “centrally protected monuments”. This essentially implies:

  1. The site will no longer be conserved, protected, and maintained by the ASI.
  2. Activities related to construction and urbanisation in the area can be carried out in a regular manner.

Which of the given statements is/are correct?

  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

900-year-old Chalukyan Inscription discovered  

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Kalyana Chalukya, their administration, arts, architecture etc.

Mains level: NA

What is the news?

A 900-year-old Kannada inscription from the Kalyana Chalukya dynasty has been discovered in a state of neglect at Gangapuram, a temple town in Jadcherla mandal, Mahabubnagar, Telangana.

  • The inscription dates back to June 8, 1134 CE (Friday) and was issued by the Customs Officers of Tailapa-III, son of Kalyana Chalukya Emperor ‘Bhulokamalla’ Someswara-III.
  • It records the remission of toll taxes for the perpetual lamp and incense of God Somanatha.

Who were the Chalukyas?

Origin and Expansion:

  • The Chalukyas emerged as a prominent dynasty in the 6th century CE, with their capital at Badami in present-day Karnataka.
  • Pulakeshin I, the founder of the dynasty, ascended to the throne around 543 CE and expanded the empire by defeating the Kadambas, Mauryas, and other neighboring kingdoms.
  • Pulakeshin II, one of the most illustrious rulers of the Chalukyan Empire, ascended the throne in 610 CE and significantly expanded its territory through military conquests and diplomatic alliances.
  • The empire reached its zenith under Pulakeshin II, extending its influence over large parts of Southern and Central India, including present-day Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Andhra Pradesh.

Dynastic Divisions:

  • The Chalukyan Empire witnessed the emergence of multiple dynastic branches, including the Badami Chalukyas, Western Chalukyas (also known as the Later Chalukyas), and Eastern Chalukyas (also known as the Chalukyas of Vengi).
  1. Badami Chalukyas ruled from their capital at Badami and were known for their contributions to art, architecture, and literature.
  2. Western Chalukyas, based in Kalyani (present-day Basavakalyan), continued the legacy of their predecessors and established their dominance over parts of present-day Karnataka and Maharashtra.
  3. Eastern Chalukyas, based in Vengi (present-day Andhra Pradesh), carved out their own kingdom and played a crucial role in the political dynamics of South India.

Religion and Faith:

  • The Chalukyas were patrons of art, literature, and architecture, fostering a rich cultural environment within their empire.
  • They promoted Hinduism as the dominant religion and contributed to the construction of numerous temples dedicated to Hindu deities, including the famous Virupaksha Temple at Pattadakal.
  • The Chalukyas also patronized Jainism and Buddhism, leading to the construction of Jain caves and monasteries in regions under their control.

Decline and Legacy:

  • The Chalukyan Empire faced internal conflicts, dynastic rivalries, and external invasions, leading to its gradual decline from the 12th century onwards.
  • The defeat of Vikramaditya VI by the Cholas in the 12th century marked the end of the Western Chalukya dynasty, while the Eastern Chalukyas continued to rule in Vengi until the 13th century.

Administration:

  • The empire was divided into administrative units known as ‘Rashtras or Mandalas’, each governed by a local administrative officer known as a ‘Mandaleshwara’.
  • At the higher levels of administration, provincial governors known asRashtrakutas’ were appointed to oversee multiple mandalas and report directly to the king.
  • Revenue administration played a crucial role in sustaining the empire, with land revenue being the primary source of income. The empire maintained a sophisticated system of land measurement and taxation to ensure a steady flow of revenue.

Arts and Culture:

  • Sculpture flourished under the patronage of the Chalukya rulers, with exquisite examples of stone carvings adorning temple complexes and royal monuments.
  • The famous Nataraja sculpture at Pattadakal, depicting Lord Shiva in his cosmic dance pose, is a masterpiece of Chalukyan art.
  • Pampa, a court poet of the Chalukyas, composed the epic poem “Vikramarjuna Vijaya” (also known as “Pampa Bharata” or “Pampa Ramayana”) in Kannada, narrating the story of the Mahabharata from the perspective of Arjuna.
  • The Chalukyan era witnessed the development of classical dance forms like Bharatanatyam, as evidenced by sculptures found in temples such as the Mallikarjuna Temple at Pattadakal.
  • Ranna, a prominent Kannada poet of the Chalukyan period, composed the “Ajita Tirthankara Purana,” an epic poem celebrating the lives of the Jain Tirthankaras.

Architecture:

  • Chalukyan temples are architectural marvels, characterized by their distinctive Dravidian and Nagara styles collectively called the ‘Gadag Style’ .
  • The Virupaksha Temple at Pattadakal, built by the Chalukyan king Vikramaditya II in the 8th century, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its intricate carvings and towering gopurams (entrance gateways).
  • Similarly, the Durga Temple at Aihole, dating back to the 7th century, showcases exemplary Chalukyan architecture with its ornate pillars and sculpted panels depicting Hindu deities and mythological scenes.

 


PYQ:

2019: Building ‘Kalyaana Mandapas’ was a notable feature in the temple construction in the kingdom of

  1. Chalukya
  2. Chandela
  3. Rashtrakuta
  4. Vijayanagara

 

Practice MCQ:

The ‘Gadag Style’ of Temple Architecture is associated with which of the following dynasties?

  1. Chalukya
  2. Kakatiya
  3. Rashtrakuta
  4. Kadamba

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

ASI told to conduct Scientific Survey of Bhojshala Complex

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Bhojshala Complex

Mains level: NA

Bhojshala

In the news

  • The Bhojshala Temple-Kamal Maula Mosque complex in Dhar district, an ASI-protected 11th-century monument, has been a subject of contention regarding its nature and usage.
  • To address this, the Indore Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court has directed the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to conduct a scientific survey of the site.

About Bhojshala Complex

Details
Location Dhar district, Madhya Pradesh, India
Historical Background Established by Raja Bhoj, the greatest ruler of the Parmar dynasty, as an educational institute
Date of Establishment 11th century
Transformation Originally a Goddess Wagdevi (Saraswati temple), later converted into Kamal Maulana Mosque by Muslim rulers
Architectural Features Large open courtyard (Mahaāyata)

Verandah with decorated pillars (Sthāpanā)

Prayer hall with intricately carved ceilings (Shikharākāra)

Inscriptions Two hymns depicting the Karmavatar of Vishnu (Avatār)

Sarpabandha pillar inscriptions with Sanskrit alphabet and grammatical rules (Vyākaraṇa)

Archaeological Significance Protected by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) as an 11th-century monument

Controversy over Bhojshala Complex

  • Religious Claims: Hindus regard the site as the temple of Goddess Wagdevi (Saraswati), while Muslims believe it to be the Kamal Maula mosque.
  • Usage Agreement: The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) allows Hindus to pray on Tuesdays and Basant Panchami, and Muslims to offer namaz on Fridays.

Recent Developments

  • Basant Panchami Dispute: A recent order allowing Hindus to worship during Basant Panchami hours led to discontent among some Right-wing activists.
  • Demand for Extended Access: Hindu groups demand all-day access to the shrine on such occasions, leading to protests and petitions filed in the High Court.

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Ancient Chalukyan Temples and Inscription Found

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Mudimanikyam Temples

Mains level: Chalukyan Empire

chalukya

Introduction

  • Recent archaeological findings in Mudimanikyam village, Nalgonda district, unveiled two Badami Chalukya temples dating back 1,300-1,500 years and a label inscription from the 8th or 9th century AD.
  • These discoveries shed light on the rich historical heritage of the region.

Ancient Mudimanikyam Temples

  • Dating: The two temples, constructed between 543 AD and 750 AD, exhibit the distinctive Kadamba Nagara style in the Rekha Nagara format, a rarity in Telangana.
  • Architectural Significance: Research emphasizes the importance of these temples as testimonies to the Badami Chalukya period. With minimal restoration, they can serve as valuable relics of ancient architecture in Telangana.
  • Comparison: Apart from the Badami Chalukya temples at Alampur, these temples stand out as exceptional examples of architectural prowess from that era.

Details of Label Inscription

  • Discovery: The label inscription, found on a pillar of a group of five temples in the village, dates back to the 8th or 9th century AD.
  • Meaning: While the exact meaning of the inscription, ‘Gandaloranru,’ remains unclear, ASI suggests it may denote a heroic title, with ‘Ganda’ in Kannada meaning ‘hero.’
  • Historical Context: The presence of the inscription indicates the existence of five temples, known as Panchakuta, during the late Badami Chalukya period. However, these temples are no longer in use, with one missing the Shivalinga and another containing a Vishnu idol.

Badami Chalukyas: Legacy and Achievements

  • Establishment: Pulakeshin I founded the Chalukya dynasty in 550, establishing Badami (Vatapi) in present-day Karnataka as the capital.
  • Extent of Empire: The Badami Chalukyas ruled over territories encompassing modern Karnataka and large parts of Andhra Pradesh.
  • Pulakesi II’s Reign:
    1. Notable Conquests: Pulakeshin II expanded the empire northwards, halting Harsha’s advance and defeating the Vishnukundins in the southeastern Deccan.
    2. Diplomatic Relations: His reign saw diplomatic exchanges with Chinese and Persian empires, highlighting the dynasty’s international stature.
  • Vikramaditya Dynasty: The dynasty experienced resurgence under Vikramaditya I, who expelled the Pallavas from Badami, and reached its zenith under Vikramaditya II, who conquered Kanchipuram from the Pallavas.
  • Decline and End: The Rashtrakuta Dantidurga dethroned the last Badami Chalukya king, Kirtivarman I, in 753, ending the dynasty’s rule.

Cultural Feats

  • Art and Architecture: The era witnessed the emergence of Vesara architecture, blending South Indian and North Indian styles, epitomized by monuments like the rock-cut temples of Pattadakal, Badami, and Aihole.
  • Coinage: Unique Coinage: Chalukya coins bore legends in Nagari and Kannada scripts, featuring symbols like temples, lions, and lotuses.
  • Religious Patronage: Initially adherents of Vedic Hinduism, the Chalukyas later embraced Shaivism, fostering sects like Pashupata, Kapalikas, and Kalamukhas, while also promoting Jainism.

Government and Administration:

  • Military Prowess: The Chalukya army, comprising infantry, cavalry, and a formidable navy, employed innovative strategies, including intoxicating elephants before battle.
  • Administrative Structure: The empire was divided into provinces, districts, and smaller administrative units, with feudal lords governing autonomous regions.

Try this PYQ from CSP 2019:

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

a) Chalukya

b) Chandela

c) Rashtrakuta

d) Vijayanagara

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Kapilvastu Relics of Buddha

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Kapilvastu Relics

Mains level: Places associated with Buddha

Kapilvastu Relics

Introduction

  • India will showcase some relics of Lord Buddha, currently in its possession, in Thailand from February 22 to March 18.

Kapilvastu Relics: Details

  • Designation: The relics of Lord Buddha and his disciples Arahata Sariputra and Arahata Maudgalayana are known as the ‘Kapilvastu Relics.’
  • Origin: These relics, comprising 20 bone fragments, have been preserved at India’s National Museum.
  • Discovery: They were recovered in 1898 from a site in Bihar believed to be the ancient city of Kapilvastu. It was an inscribed casket found at the stupa site in Piprahwa (near Siddharthnagar in UP) that helped identify Kapilavastu.
  • Age: Dating back to the 4th or 5th Century BC, these relics were discovered in Bihar’s Piprahwa, believed to be the ancient city of Kapilvastu.
  • Excavation Details: The ASI unearthed these relics during excavations conducted from 1971 to 1977, discovering two inscribed steatite stone caskets containing 12 and 10 sacred relics, respectively.

Public Display in Thailand

  • Previous Exhibitions: Portions of these relics were earlier exhibited in Sri Lanka (1976, 2012), Mongolia (1993, 2022), Singapore (1994, 2007), South Korea (1995), and Thailand (1995).
  • Construction of Pagoda: The Thai government has built a special pagoda in Bangkok to enshrine the relics during the exhibition.

Significance of Display: Promotion of Indian Diplomacy

  • Diplomatic Achievement: This event signifies a diplomatic achievement for India, strengthening ties with Thailand and promoting cultural exchange.
  • Buddhist Circuit Development: The initiative aligns with India’s ‘Look East’ policy and emphasizes the promotion of soft power through cultural exchanges.
  • Past Engagements: India previously sent the relics to Mongolia in 2022 and Sri Lanka in 2012, showcasing its commitment to fostering cultural and spiritual ties.

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Harappan Settlement found at Lodrani near Dholavira

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Lodrani, Dholavira, Harappan Civilizaiton (IVC)

Mains level: NA

lodrani

Introduction

  • Legend has it that Lodrani, a hamlet near Dholavira in Kutch, was believed to be sitting on buried gold, prompting locals to initiate a dig around five years ago.
  • Contrary to expectations, the excavation led to the discovery of a fortified Harappan-era settlement, challenging the assumptions about the area’s history.

Archaeological Findings at Lodrani

  • Harappan-Era Settlement: Ajay Yadav and Damian Robinson from Oxford’s School of Archaeology led the archaeological exploration, revealing a well-preserved Harappan settlement.
  • Architectural Resemblance to Dholavira: Yadav notes striking architectural similarities between the newly discovered site, named Morodharo, and Dholavira.
  • Flourishing Ancient Life: Despite being initially dismissed as a medieval fortress, the site unveils evidence of a thriving civilization dating back around 4,500 years.

Significance

  • Harappan Pottery: The site yielded a significant amount of Harappan pottery akin to findings at Dholavira, indicating a connection between the two settlements.
  • Chronological Placement: Experts suggest Morodharo exhibits characteristics of mature to late Harappan periods (2,600-1,300 BCE), shedding light on the region’s ancient chronology.

Insights from Archaeologists

  • Dependence on the Sea: Both Dholavira and Morodharo depended on the sea, suggesting navigable waters near the Rann of Kutch during ancient times.
  • Archaeological Fame: Despite false starts in the past, Lodrani now claims archaeological fame, highlighting the importance of local initiatives in uncovering historical treasures.

About Dholavira

Description
Discovery Discovered in 1968 by archaeologist Jagat Pati Joshi.
Importance
  • One of the most remarkable and well-preserved urban settlements in South Asia.
  • Fifth largest metropolis of the Indus Valley Civilization.
Location
  • Archaeological site located in the Kachchh District, Gujarat, dating from the 3rd to mid-2nd millennium BCE.
  • On Khadir bet island in the Great Rann of Kachchh.
Strategic Location
  • Located on the Tropic of Cancer;
  • Strategic for trade and access to mineral and raw material sources.
Archaeological Findings
  • Terracotta pottery, beads, gold and copper ornaments, seals, fish hooks, tools, urns, imported vessels.
  • Unique stone inscriptions in Indus Valley script.
Distinct Features Cascading series of water reservoirs, outer fortification, multi-purpose grounds, unique gates, tumulus funerary architecture, multi-layered defenses.
Decline
  • Coincided with the collapse of Mesopotamia;
  • Affected by climate change, aridity, and drying up of ancient rivers like Saraswati.

Try this PYQ:

Q. Which one of the following ancient towns is well-known for its elaborate system of water harvesting and management by building a series of dams and channelizing water into connected reservoirs?

(a) Dholavira (b) Kalibangan (c) Rakhigarhi (d) Ropar

 

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

1000-YO Mahavir Statue Found in Tamil Nadu

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Vardhaman Mahavir, Jainism

Mains level: Read the attached story

mahavir

Introduction

  • A 1,000-year-old stone statue of Thirthangara Mahavir has been found in Tamil Nadu at at Manavarayanendal near Thiruchuli in Virudhunagar district.

Features of the Statue

  • There is a triple umbrella above the head of the statue, which has creepers carved on it.
  • It is flanked by sculptures of yakshas.
  • Based on the sculpture technique, it is assumed that the statue might belong to the 11th century AD.

About Vardhaman Mahavir

Description
Birth 540 B.C.
Birthplace Kundagrama village near Vaishali
Family Background Belonged to the Jnatrika clan; father Siddharta was the head of the Jnathrika Kshatriya clan, and mother Trishala was a sister of Chetaka, the king of Vaishali.
Renunciation Renounced home at the age of 30 to become an ascetic.
Spiritual Practice Practiced austerity for 12 years.
Attainment of Kaivalya Attained the highest spiritual knowledge called Kaivalya (conquered misery and happiness) at the age of 42.
First Sermon Delivered his first sermon at Pava.
Symbol Associated with the symbol of a lion.
Missions Traveled to various regions including Koshala, Magadha, Mithila, Champa, etc.
Passing Away Passed away at the age of 72 in 468 B.C. at Pavapuri in Bihar.
Legacy Founded Jainism as it is known today; contributed significant teachings and principles to the religion.

Everything you need to know about Jainism

Description
Origin Jainism gained prominence in the 6th century B.C. when Lord Mahavira propagated the religion.
Founder Lord Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara, is the central figure
Tirthankaras
  • Jainism recognizes 24 Tirthankaras or great teachers
  • Rishabhanatha being the first and Mahavira the last.
Meaning of “Jain” “Jain” is derived from “jina” or “jaina,” signifying the “Conqueror” or one who has conquered the inner enemies like attachment, aversion, and delusion.
Main Principles Jainism emphasizes the Three Jewels or Triratna:

  1. Right Faith (Samyakdarshana),
  2. Right Knowledge (Samyakjnana), and
  3. Right Conduct (Samyakcharita).
Five Doctrines Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (non-stealing), Aparigraha (non-attachment), and Brahmacharya (chastity) are the fundamental principles of Jainism.
Concept of God
  • Jainism does not adhere to the concept of a creator God
  • Believes in the existence of liberated souls (Siddhas) who have attained spiritual perfection.
Major Doctrines
  1. Anekantavada: Jain doctrine of non-absolutism, recognizing that truth can have multiple perspectives or facets.
  2. Syadvada: Jain doctrine stating that all judgments are conditional and true only from certain perspectives, expressed by the term “syat” (may be).
Sects/Schools Jainism is divided into two major sects:

  1. Digambara (sky-clad) and
  2. Svetambara (white-clad)
Spread
  • Jainism spread gradually into regions where Brahmanical influence was weak,
  • Received royal patronage from rulers like Chandragupta Maurya
Literature Jain literature comprises:

  1. Agama (canonical) texts, which include the direct teachings of Mahavira, and
  2. Non-agama (commentaries and elaborations) works, such as the Acaranga Sutra.
Architecture
  • Temples, caves (layana/gumphas), statues, and ornamental pillars (manastambha), exhibiting intricate designs and religious motifs.
  • Notable Jain architecture in India includes the Dilwara Temples in Mount Abu, Rajasthan, and the Girnar and Palitana Temples in Gujarat.
  • These structures exemplify intricate craftsmanship and religious symbolism.
Jain Councils Two significant Jain councils were held for compiling and preserving Jain scriptures and teachings:

  1. First Jain Council at Pataliputra (3rd century B.C.) and
  2. Second Jain Council at Vallabhi (512 A.D.)
Difference from Buddhism
  • Acknowledgment of a permanent self (atman),
  • Acceptance of the varna system,
  • Belief in the concept of a soul (jiva), and
  • Advocacy of extreme asceticism ex. Santhara/Sallekhana
Thoughts on Rebirth
Acaranga Sutra: Jainism teaches the doctrine of rebirth (samsara) and various realms of existence (lokas) based on karma, with souls cyclically transmigrating through different life forms.

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Hastsal Minaret: The Mini Qutub Minar

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Hastsal Minaret, its history, architecture

Mains level: NA

Hastsal minar

Introduction

  • The Hastsal Minar, also known as the Mini Qutub Minar or Chhota Qutub Minar, stands as a Grade A heritage monument in Delhi, silently narrating stories of an era marked by grandeur and mystery amidst ruins and encroachment.

About Hastsal Minaret

Description
Name Mini Qutub Minar (Chhota Qutub Minar, Mini Minar, Kaushal Minar, Hastsal ki Laat)
Location Hastsal village in Uttam Nagar, West Delhi, India
Built 1650
Builder Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan
Original Height 5 storeys, topped with a domed Chhatri pavilion
Current Height 3 storeys, 16.87 meters (55 feet) tall
Structure Built with Lakhori bricks and clad with red sandstone
Significance Grade A listed, protected heritage monument with the Department of Archaeology, India
History Originally built as a hunting lodge tower for Shah Jahan

Used to have a tunnel connecting it to the royal hunting lodge nearby

Architecture Resembles Qutub Minar in Delhi, octagonal platform, narrow staircase
Threats Endangered due to neglect, lack of conservation, encroachment by new constructions, surrounded by urbanization

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

#AccessibleIndia: Can Mughal History Inspire Modern Inclusion?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Fatehpur Sikri

Mains level: Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act (RPWD)

Accessible Tours of Agra and Fatehpur Sikri for Differently Abled Travelers  | Alphonso Stories

Central Idea:

The article highlights the importance of accessibility and inclusion for individuals with disabilities in public spaces, using personal experiences and examples from Fatehpur Sikri, a 16th-century monument, to underscore the need for adherence to international standards and the implementation of inclusive practices across India. It emphasizes the urgent need for prioritizing accessibility in the built environment, including ramps and other accommodations, to enable full participation and empowerment of all citizens, regardless of their physical limitations.

Key Highlights:

  • Personal experiences at Fatehpur Sikri illustrate the significance of proper accessibility measures.
  • Lack of adherence to international standards poses challenges for individuals with disabilities in navigating public spaces.
  • The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act (RPWD) is mentioned as a framework for promoting accessibility, but implementation lags.
  • Inclusive design is essential for ensuring equal access to public buildings, transport, and information technology.
  • The absence of accurate disability data in India raises questions about the extent of inclusivity and the need for targeted policies.

Key Challenges:

  • Inconsistent adherence to international accessibility standards in public spaces.
  • Limited implementation of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act (RPWD) despite its enactment.
  • Lack of accurate disability data hampers effective policy formulation and planning.
  • Heterogeneity of disabilities poses challenges in designing inclusive solutions.
  • Socioeconomic disparities contribute to unequal access to accessible infrastructure and support services.

Main Terms:

  • Accessibility
  • Inclusion
  • Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act (RPWD)
  • Universal design
  • Public accommodations
  • Built environment
  • International standards
  • Heterogeneity of disabilities
  • Socioeconomic disparities
  • Inclusive practice

Accessible India Campaign| National Portal of India

Important Phrases:

  • “International standard for a ramp slope”
  • “Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act (RPWD)”
  • “Universal design”
  • “Built environment”
  • “Socio-economic background”
  • “Accurate disability data”
  • “Inclusive environment”
  • “Heterogeneity of disability”
  • “Accessibility of public accommodations and roads”
  • “Participation in civic and socio-economic life”

Quotes:

  • “If a city built in 1569 AD can be made nearly 95 per cent wheelchair accessible, so can all public accommodations and roads.”
  • “Only by accomplishing this can we realise the full potential of our citizenry, empowering them to actively contribute their professional expertise and diverse skills for the optimal development of the country.”
  • “It is evident that our country has miles to go before genuine inclusivity can be celebrated.”
  • “The absence of ramps is just one example of why the disabled citizenry often finds it challenging to fully participate in civic and socio-economic life, potentially resulting in diminished self-esteem.”
  • “Every Indian deserves the freedom to experience our country’s rich history and heritage along with the rights accorded to all citizens.”

Anecdotes:

  • The personal experience of the author’s brother tipping over in a wheelchair due to a steep ramp highlights the dangers posed by inadequate accessibility measures.
  • The contrast between the accessible ramps at Fatehpur Sikri and the inaccessible environments encountered in daily life underscores the importance of universal design in public spaces.

Useful Statements:

  • “Implementing proper accessibility measures is a cost-effective investment in enhancing accessibility for individuals with physical limitations.”
  • “Inclusive design is essential for ensuring equal access to public buildings, transport, and information technology.”
  • “In pursuing true accessibility, involving multiple end-users in the design process is crucial for determining its success.”

Examples and References:

  • Fatehpur Sikri as an example of successful accessibility implementation.
  • Comparison between international standards and the actual accessibility of public spaces in India.
  • Mention of UN-Habitat’s definition of an inclusive environment.
  • Reference to the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act (RPWD) as a framework for promoting accessibility.
  • World Health Organization’s data on global disability prevalence versus India’s reported disability rates.

Facts and Data:

  • Fatehpur Sikri is mentioned as being nearly 95% wheelchair accessible.
  • The World Health Organization estimates that 16% of the global population experiences significant disabilities.
  • India’s last Census in 2011 reported only 2.2% of the population as having disabilities.

Critical Analysis: The article effectively combines personal anecdotes with broader observations to highlight the challenges and importance of accessibility and inclusion in India. It critiques the lack of adherence to international standards and the limited implementation of legislative frameworks, emphasizing the need for concrete action to address these issues. However, it also acknowledges the complexities involved, such as the heterogeneity of disabilities and socioeconomic disparities, which require nuanced approaches to ensure meaningful inclusivity.

Way Forward:

  • Prioritize accessibility and inclusion as national priorities, possibly under a dedicated “mission.”
  • Ensure consistent adherence to international standards in the design and construction of public spaces.
  • Improve implementation of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act (RPWD) and enhance data collection on disability prevalence.
  • Promote inclusive design practices and involve end-users in the planning and development of accessible infrastructure.
  • Raise awareness and advocate for the rights of individuals with disabilities to foster a more inclusive society.

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In news: Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah’s Tomb

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah and his contemporaries

Mains level: NA

Introduction

  • A digital twin of the Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah’s tomb was unveiled by a reality technology company, Hexagon in Hyderabad.

Who was Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah?

  • Parentage: Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah was born on April 4, 1565, as the third son of Ibrahim Quli Qutb Shah Wali and his Hindu mother Bhagirathi.
  • Literary Talent: He was not only an able administrator but also a skilled poet who composed verses in Persian, Telugu, and Urdu.

Contemporaries of Quli Qutb Shah

 

  • Akbar (1556–1605): Mughal Emperor known for his religious tolerance and administrative reforms.
  • Rani Durgavati (1550–1564): Queen of the Gondwana Kingdom in central India, renowned for her bravery in resisting Mughal expansion.
  • Maharana Pratap (1572–1597): Rajput ruler of Mewar, famous for his defiance against Mughal Emperor Akbar and his valor in battles.
  • Chand Bibi (1550–1599): Regent of the Ahmednagar Sultanate in Deccan, known for her role in defending Ahmadnagar against Mughal forces.
  • Guru Ram Das (1574–1581): Fourth Sikh Guru who established the city of Amritsar and contributed significantly to Sikhism’s growth.
  • Sher Shah Suri (1540–1545): Founder of the Sur Empire in North India, celebrated for his administrative reforms and construction of the Grand Trunk Road.

Key Accomplishments

[A] Reign and Accomplishments

  • Ascension to the Throne: Muhammad Quli succeeded his father in 1580 at the age of 15 and ruled for 31 years.
  • Military Campaigns: Despite facing rebellions, he effectively led troops and quelled disturbances, ensuring stability in his realm.

[B] Foundation of Hyderabad

  • Urban Planning: Concerned about overcrowding in Golkonda, Muhammad Quli initiated the construction of Hyderabad in 1591.
  • Land Selection: While folklore suggests a romanticized version of land selection, Muhammad Quli’s vision for Hyderabad’s development aimed at relieving congestion and promoting growth.

[C] Architectural Marvels and City Planning

  • Charminar: As the architectural centrepiece, Charminar was built under Muhammad Quli’s patronage, symbolizing the city’s grandeur.
  • City Layout: Hyderabad was meticulously planned with a gridiron layout, featuring significant landmarks like Darulshafa, Mecca Masjid, and Badshahi Ashurkhana.

[D] Support for Arts and Literature

  • Calligraphic Art: Under Muhammad Quli’s rule, calligraphy flourished, with various scripts adorning buildings such as the Mecca Masjid.
  • Literary Contributions: Muhammad Quli’s poetic works in Urdu and Dakhni languages reflected his diverse interests and cultural appreciation.
  • Taraqqi: He was a poet himself and composed poetry in Persian and Telugu under the pen name “Taraqqi”.

[E] Medical and Literary Contributions

  • Intellectual Hub: Hyderabad became a centre for medical and literary pursuits, with scholars producing notable works during Muhammad Quli’s reign.
  • Preservation of Culture: Muhammad Quli’s literary legacy, including his Diwan, is preserved in institutions like the Salar Jung Museum, showcasing his contribution to cultural heritage.

Legacy and Influence

  • Cultural Integration: Muhammad Quli’s reign represents a period of cultural fusion, blending Hindu and Islamic traditions in the Deccan region.
  • Symbol of Unity: His efforts to promote harmony and coexistence endure as a testament to the inclusive ethos of his administration.

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Will Europe ever return ‘Looted’ Asian Artifacts?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: 1970 UNESCO Convention

Mains level: Return of Artifacts

Artifacts

Introduction

  • European museums have faced increasing pressure to return cultural artifacts to their countries of origin.
  • The restitution of these artifacts carries significant implications for diplomacy and international relations.

France’s Pledge and Precedent

  • France’s Commitment: President Emmanuel Macron pledged support during the visit of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet to return Khmer artifacts and expand the National Museum of Cambodia.
  • First European Leader: Macron became the first European leader to address demands for the return of looted antiquities in 2017, emphasizing France’s commitment to restoring cultural heritage.

Cases of Repatriation

  • Musee Guimet’s Return: France’s National Museum of Asian art, Musee Guimet, agreed to return a seventh-century Khmer statue to Cambodia, taken during the colonial era.
  • Global Initiatives: Germany and France allocated funds for reviewing African heritage objects, possibly signaling similar efforts for Asian artifacts.
  • The Met’s Decision: The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York pledged to return sculptures to Cambodia and Thailand, setting a precedent for other institutions.

Legal Basis and Challenges

  • UNESCO Convention: 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property
  • Non-binding: It is a key legal framework for repatriation, but it doesn’t apply retrospectively to colonial-era looting.
  • National Legislation: Some countries, like Austria, are proposing national laws for returning objects acquired during colonialism.

Reasons for repatriation

  • Soft Power Benefits: Repatriation can enhance a nation’s soft power, showcasing a commitment to international law, reconciliation, and better relations with affected countries.
  • Rebranding Opportunity: Returning artifacts is seen as an opportunity for Western governments to rebrand and mend historical wrongs, especially in regions like Southeast Asia.
  • EU’s Role: The European Parliament discusses the need for recognizing and addressing colonial legacies and restitution, potentially creating a permanent EU body on restorative justice.
  • Cooperation is Key: To gain recognition similar to the United States, European museums need to cooperate openly with the governments of the regions from which the artifacts originated.

Conclusion

  • The return of cultural artifacts taken during colonialism is not only a legal and ethical issue but also a diplomatic endeavor.
  • European museums that engage in proactive repatriation efforts can build goodwill, foster cooperation, and enhance their soft power on the global stage.

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Varanasi HC allows Hindu Prayers in Gyanvapi Premise

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Gyanvapi Premise

Gyanvapi

Introduction

  • The Varanasi District Court has issued an order permitting Hindu prayers to be conducted in the southern cellar of the Gyanvapi mosque complex, a decision met with both support and opposition.
  • This development comes amid ongoing legal disputes concerning the worship rights at the site.

Allowing Prayers: Court’s Ruling

  • Prayers Allowed: The Varanasi District Court has directed the district administration to facilitate the resumption of puja (worship) within the disputed southern cellar of the Gyanvapi mosque complex within seven days.
  • Background: The order followed an application filed by Shailendra Kumar Pathak, the priest of the Acharya Ved Vyas Peeth temple, seeking worship rights for visible and invisible deities in the basement of the mosque.

Reaction and Legal Challenges

  • Legal Challenge: The Anjuman Intezamia Committee of Gyanvapi Masjid, advised by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), intends to challenge the court’s decision in the Allahabad High Court.
  • AIMPLB’s Stance: AIMPLB criticized the court’s ruling as “totally unacceptable” and drew parallels to past disputes like the opening of locks at the Babri Masjid in 1986. They expressed concerns about the targeting of old mosques after the establishment of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.

Historical Perspective

  • Prior Worship: The petitioner claimed that Hindu priests associated with the Vyas family used to perform daily rituals in the cellar before 1993 when it was discontinued by government orders.
  • Contested Claims: A member of the Anjuman Intezamia committee contested the assertion, stating that there had never been any puja conducted in the cellar.

Ongoing Legal Proceedings

  • Next Hearing: The next hearing on this matter is scheduled for February 8, allowing the defendants, including the Anjuman Intejamia Masajid Committee that manages the Gyanvapi mosque, to file objections.
  • Parallel Legal Challenge: Another order by the Allahabad High Court concerns a revision application challenging the Varanasi district judge’s refusal to direct the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to conduct a scientific survey of the mosque’s wazukhana area.

Concerns and Historical Parallels

  • Ethical Concerns: The decision to permit puja in the Gyanvapi mosque’s basement raises ethical questions and concerns about religious rights.
  • Parallels to History: AIMPLB sees parallels between recent developments and past disputes, raising concerns about historical patterns of targeting old mosques.

Conclusion

  • The Varanasi District Court’s ruling allowing Hindu prayers in the Gyanvapi mosque’s southern cellar has ignited both legal challenges and discussions about religious rights and historical parallels.
  • The case continues to be a subject of significant debate and legal scrutiny.

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Historical Insights: Gyanvapi Structure Controversy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Gyanvapi

Mains level: Read the attached story

Gyanvapi

Introduction

  • The Gyanvapi Structure sin Varanasi has been the center of a longstanding controversy regarding its historical origin and the existence of a Hindu temple preceding its construction.
  • The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has recently concluded that a Hindu temple indeed existed at the site before the mosque’s construction, relying on scientific studies, textual evidence, and historical accounts.

Gyanvapi: Historical Background

  • Temple’s Existence: The ASI’s findings suggest that a substantial Hindu temple once stood adjacent to the Kashi Vishwanath temple, which is believed to have been demolished during the reign of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.
  • Persian Chronicles: The primary source for this claim is Saqi Mustaid Khan’s Maasir-i-Alamgiri, a Persian chronicle written shortly after Aurangzeb died in 1707. It mentions Aurangzeb’s orders to destroy temples and schools of the “infidels.”
  • Aurangzeb’s Policy: Historians interpret this as part of Aurangzeb’s broader policy against Hinduism, marked by the destruction of temples and discriminatory measures, such as customs duties.

Historical Interpretations

  • Selective Targeting: Some historians argue that the 1669 decree was not a blanket order to destroy all temples but targeted institutions where certain teachings took place, especially in Benares (now Varanasi).
  • Conflict with Shivaji: It is suggested that Aurangzeb ordered the destruction of the Kashi temple as retribution following Chhatrapati Shivaji’s escape from Mughal custody.
  • Religious Cloth: The Gyanvapi Mosque incorporates a part of the ruined temple’s wall, possibly serving as a religious statement of the consequences of opposing Mughal authority.

Expert Opinions and Legal Implications

  • ASI Report: The ASI’s extensive report provides expert evidence but can be contested in court during the ongoing legal battle.
  • Witnesses and Cross-Examination: The civil suit involves witnesses from various fields, including historians, archaeologists, and religious experts, who will be cross-examined.
  • Court Determination: The courts will decide whether the ASI report can be conclusively relied upon and assess the significance of the existence of a Hindu temple in determining the mosque’s religious character.

Legal and Constitutional Aspects

  • Maintainability Issue: The preliminary issue of whether the suit can be filed depends on the fate of the Places of Worship Act, 1991, which aims to maintain the religious character of places of worship as of August 15, 1947.
  • Relevance of ASI Report: The relevance of the ASI report could change significantly if the 1991 law is altered or struck down. Currently, the law is considered a fundamental feature of the Constitution, safeguarding secularism.
  • Secularism and Non-Retrogression: The Places of Worship Act is seen as essential in upholding the principles of secularism and non-retrogression, core elements of India’s Constitution.

Conclusion

  • The controversy surrounding the Gyanvapi Mosque underscores the complexities of historical interpretation and legal implications.
  • The ASI’s findings, while significant, are part of an ongoing legal process, and the final determination will have far-reaching consequences on the historical narrative and religious character of the site.

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India’s Oldest Living City found in Vadnagar: IIT study

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Vadnagar Excavations

Mains level: Read the attached story

vadnagar

Introduction

  • A recent joint study by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur has uncovered significant findings in Vadnagar, PM Modi’s native village.
  • Contrary to the common belief of a “Dark Age” following the Harappan collapse, the study suggests a continuous cultural presence in the region.

Vadnagar: Mysteries Revealed 

  • Historical Significance: The discovery is crucial as it fills a gap in Indian archaeological history between 1,500 BCE and 500 BCE, suggesting a continuous human settlement over 5,500 years.
  • Multicultural Settlement: Vadnagar was identified as a site with diverse cultural and religious influences, including Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, and Islamic.
  • Cultural Continuity: Evidence suggests that Vadnagar could date back to 1,400 BCE, aligning with the late phase of the post-urban Harappan period.
  • Archaeological Artifacts: The site revealed a variety of artifacts, including potteries, copper, gold, silver, iron objects, and intricately designed bangles.
  • Climatic Influence on History: The study indicates that climatic changes significantly influenced the rise and fall of kingdoms and invasions in India over a 3,000-year period.
  • Successive Rulers: Radiocarbon dating shows that Vadnagar was successively ruled by various kingdoms and empires, including the Indo-Greeks, Indo-Scythians (Kshatrapa kings), Maitrakas (Gupta kingdom), Rashtrakuta-Pratihara-Chawada kings, Solanki kings (Chalukya rule), Sultanate-Mughals, and Gaekwad/British.
  • Migration Trigger: The team inferred that cold arid/hyper-arid conditions might have triggered migration from central Asia.

Challenging the “Dark Age” Narrative

  • Redefining Historical Gaps: The findings challenge the notion of a ‘Dark Age’ following the collapse of the Indus Valley Civilization around 4,000 years ago and before the emergence of Iron Age cities like Gandhar, Koshal, and Avanti.
  • Vadnagar’s Significance: Evidence from Vadnagar challenges this narrative, suggesting it as one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities within a single fortification in India.
  • Potential Harappan Continuity: Preliminary radiocarbon dating indicates that Vadnagar’s settlement could date back to 1400 BCE, aligning with the late phase of the post-urban Harappan period.

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Demolition of Delhi’s Sunehri Masjid

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Sunehri Masjid

Mains level: NA

Sunehri Masjid

Introduction

  • The Indian History Congress (IHC), a prominent body of historians, has recently taken a stand against the proposed demolition of the Sunehri Masjid, a late medieval mosque in New Delhi.
  • Since 1984, the IHC has consistently advocated for the protection of monuments, emphasizing that all structures over 200 years old should be strictly preserved under the Protection of Monuments Act.

About Sunehri Masjid

Details
Location Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi, India
Built By Mughal noble Roshan-ud-Daula
Construction Period 1721-1722
Legend In 1739, Persian invader Nadir Shah, ordered the invasion and plunder of Delhi city while standing in this mosque.
Dedication Dedicated to Shah Bhik (spiritual mentor of Roshan-ud-Daula)
Architectural Style Mughal Architecture
Architectural Features Three golden-domed turrets, slender minarets, stucco decorations
Educational Role Hosted Madrasa Aminia in 1897, later relocated to Kashmiri Gate in 1917

 

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Paleolithic Tools Discovered in Telangana’s Mulugu District

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Paleolithic Age

Mains level: Read the attached story

Paleolithic

Introduction

  • Floods Uncover Historical Artifacts: The recent floods in Mulugu district, Telangana, have led to the discovery of Paleolithic quartzite tools, shedding new light on the region’s ancient human habitation.
  • Discovery by Amateur Historians: The tools were found in a dried-up stream bed by a team led by Sriramoju Haragopal, an amateur historian.

About Paleolithic Age

Details
Timeframe Approximately 2.6 million years ago to about 10,000 BCE.
Characteristics Marked by the use of stone tools by early humans. Tools were mainly hand axes, cleavers, and choppers.
Major Sites
  • Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh
  • Soan Valley in Punjab
  • Sites in Rajasthan, Karnataka, and Maharashtra
  • Narmada Valley in Central India
  • Attirampakkam in Tamil Nadu
  • Hunsgi in Karnataka
  • Kurnool in Andhra Pradesh
  • Didwana in Rajasthan
  • Belan Valley in Uttar Pradesh
Lifestyle Nomadic hunter-gatherers; relied on hunting animals and gathering plants for food.
Cultural Developments Development of basic stone tools and control of fire.
Art and Symbolism Evidence of early art found in Bhimbetka rock shelters, with paintings and engravings.
Climate and Environment Varied climatic conditions over millennia; included ice ages and warmer periods.
Human Species Mainly Homo erectus and Homo sapiens.

Details of the Discovery

  • Location of Find: The hand axes were discovered between Gurrevula and Bhupatipuram villages in Mulugu district.
  • Specific Find: Researchers found a significant stone axe measuring 15.5 cm in length, 11 cm in width, and 5.5 cm in thickness.

Context and Comparison

  • Global Significance: Similar hand axes have been discovered worldwide, indicating a common tool type used by early humans for various purposes.
  • Historical Context in India: The first discovery of a Paleolithic site in India was in 1863 at Attirampakkam near Madras (now Chennai), with bifacial hand-axes dating back to about 15 lakh years, known as the Madras Hand-Axe Industry or Madrasian Culture.

Historical Significance

  • Paleolithic Era Tools: According to paleontologists, the stone axe dates back to the Lower Paleolithic period, approximately 30 lakh years ago.
  • Tool Identification: The tools were identified based on their chipping style, material, and size, typical of Paleolithic hunter-gatherers who used heavy quartzite for large tools.

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Time Measurement and Role of Ujjain in Ancient Astronomy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Prime Meridian, Ujjain

Mains level: NA

ujjain

Central Idea

  • The newly elected Madhya Pradesh CM asserted that Ujjain, was the reference for world time 300 years ago, before the Prime Meridian shifted to Paris and then Greenwich.
  • For UPSC aspirants, understanding these nuances is essential for a comprehensive grasp of India’s scientific heritage and its global context.

Time Measurement and Ujjain’s Role

  • Ujjain’s Central Meridian: Before Greenwich’s establishment in 1884, Ujjain was the central meridian for time in India, influencing Hindu almanac calculations.
  • Vedshala Observatory: The Vedshala or Government Jiwaji Observatory in Ujjain offers insights into ancient Indian timekeeping methods.

Ujjain’s Geographical and Astronomical Significance

  • Surya Siddhanta’s Contributions: This 4th-century astronomical treatise positions Ujjain at the intersection of the zero meridian of longitude and the Tropic of Cancer, highlighting its global importance.
  • Astronomical Landmarks: Ujjain’s location on the Tropic of Cancer, intersecting significant temples, underscores its historical and religious significance in Hindu cosmogony.

Legacy of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II and the Vedshala

  • Observatory’s Origins: Built between 1725-1730 by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, the Vedshala was inspired by the observatory in Samarkand and predates those in Jaipur, Delhi, Mathura, and Varanasi.
  • Motivation for Construction: Jai Singh’s initiative to educate the country in astronomy was sparked by a debate in the Mughal court over astronomical calculations.

Ujjain’s Astronomical Heritage and Contributions

  • Center for Ancient Astronomy: Ujjain was a hub for astronomical and mathematical studies, home to scholars like Varahamihira, Brahmagupta, and Bhaskaracharya.
  • Vikram Samvat Calendar: King Vikramaditya’s establishment of the Vikram Samvat calendar around 58–56 B.C. further cements Ujjain’s historical importance.

Exploring the Vedshala’s Instruments and Functions

  • Yantras and Their Uses: The observatory houses various instruments (yantras) for measuring time, celestial altitudes, planetary motions, and eclipses.
  • Unique Instruments: The Shankhu Yantra, Samrat Yantra, Digansha Yantra, Nadi Valay Yantra, and Bhitti Yantra demonstrate the sophistication of ancient Indian astronomical tools.
  • Taramandel Shows: The observatory also features a planetarium offering educational shows about celestial bodies.

Ongoing Astronomical Research and Preservation

  • Renovation and Continuation of Studies: Maharaja Madhav Rao Scindia of Gwalior renovated the observatory in 1923, ensuring the continuation of astronomical research.
  • Annual Ephemeris Publication: The observatory publishes an ephemeris, detailing the daily positions and movements of planets.

Conclusion

  • Balancing Historical Pride and Scientific Accuracy: While appreciating Ujjain’s rich astronomical heritage, it’s crucial to distinguish between historical significance and contemporary scientific standards.
  • Insights for UPSC Aspirants: Understanding Ujjain’s role in ancient timekeeping and astronomy offers UPSC aspirants a nuanced perspective on India’s scientific contributions and cultural heritage.
  • Enduring Legacy: Ujjain’s astronomical legacy, exemplified by the Vedshala Observatory, continues to be a testament to India’s historical advancements in science and time measurement.

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Jats in the modern world

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: na

Mains level: historical journey of the Jat community in India

Jats are a community that is found in the Hindu, Sikh and Muslim religions. Jat History Peddler Media

Key Highlights:

  • The article explores the historical journey of the Jat community in India over the past 500 years, tracing their nomadic origins to settled agrarian lifestyles.
  • Jats, divided into various sub-castes and known for their traditional practices, have faced historical battles and conversions, contributing significantly to agriculture and politics.
  • Despite internal divisions and religious differences, the Jat community unites on national issues such as farmers’ rights and land legislation, producing prominent leaders like Chaudhary Charan Singh.

Key Challenges:

  • The Jat community grapples with stereotypes and mockery, facing challenges in reconciling their pride in the past with a desire to assert their qualities in contemporary contexts.
  • The article highlights the internal divisions among Jats based on religion, turning former clansmen into archrivals despite presenting a united front on national issues.
  • Modernization of land-related occupations poses concerns about the future of Jats, leading to efforts to reinvent their identities in the face of changing socio-economic dynamics.

Key Terms:

  • Khap panchayats: Controversial local bodies involved in delivering justice and making decisions on social matters, often criticized for endorsing conservative practices.
  • Arya Samaj: A reform movement within Hinduism advocating for the worship of the uncreated Supreme Being and rejecting idol worship.
  • Subaltern: Referring to marginalized or oppressed groups within a society.

Key Phrases for answer enrichment:

  • “Jats strategically placed their faith in their practice of agrarian work.”
  • “Jats seem to have missed the understanding of pride with confidence, as they petition the world on their qualities and superiority.”
  • “With modernisation of land-related occupations and change in the feudal order, Jats are anxious about their future.”

Key Quotes:

  • “Despite their history, the Jats are mocked and customarily derided among North Indian groups.”
  • “They have a strong desire to assert without a bona fide avenue.”
  • “Olympians from the Jat community have brought international fame to their community and their politics.”

Key Examples and References:

  • Reference to historical figures like Suraj Mal, Chaudhary Charan Singh, Sir Chhotu Ram, and Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh as notable Jat icons.
  • Mention of Sikh and Muslim Jats driving a conservative agenda within the regional political landscape.
  • Olympic athletes Sakshi Malik, Bajrang Punia, and Vinesh Phogat representing the Jat community and holding the government accountable.

Key Facts:

  • Jats trace their origins to diverse geographies, from Eastern Europe and Central Asia to sea-adjacent plain fields.
  • Jats have a history of adopting religions en masse, including Buddhism during the spread of the religion.
  • The Jat community is predominantly found in North India, with diverse sub-castes and internal religious divisions.

Critical Analysis:

  • The article critically examines the challenges faced by the Jat community, including stereotypes, internal divisions, and concerns about the future in the context of changing socio-economic dynamics.
  • It highlights the tension between the community’s pride in its history and the desire to assert itself in contemporary contexts.

Way Forward:

  • Encourage open dialogues within the Jat community to address internal divisions and promote unity.
  • Advocate for educational initiatives to challenge stereotypes and promote a nuanced understanding of the Jat community’s contributions.
  • Support initiatives that help the Jat community adapt to modernization while preserving its cultural identity and historical pride.

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Prehistoric Andriamamelo Cave Art in Madagascar

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Andriamamelo Cave

Mains level: Read the attached story

Andriamamelo Cave

Central Idea

  • Unique prehistoric rock art has been found in the Andriamamelo Cave in western Madagascar, marking a first for the island.
  • It reveals pictorial art with nature, human-like, and animal-like figures.

Andriamamelo Cave Art: Key Features

  • Beyond Basic Symbols: Previously, Madagascar’s rock art mainly featured basic symbols. The new findings depict more complex scenes and figures.
  • Egyptian Religious Motifs: Some scenes bear a resemblance to motifs from Egypt’s Ptolemaic period (300-30 BCE). Major images hint at Egyptian deities like Horus, Thoth, Ma`at, and Anubis.
  • Ethiopian and Afro-Arab Connections: Symbols and writings suggest cultural links to the Ethiopian and Afro-Arab worlds.
  • Borneo Cave Art Style: The art shares similarities with a two-millennia-old cave art style from Borneo.
  • Depiction of Extinct Animals: The art may depict at least three extinct animals of Madagascar, including a giant sloth lemur, elephant birds, and a giant tortoise.
  • Mysterious M-Figures: The ubiquitous M-shaped symbol matches the Amharic alphabet’s “hawt” and is linked to the concept of the “breath of life” in some Austronesian languages.
  • Absence of Modern and Religious Symbols: The art lacks Christian, Muslim, Hindu symbols, and modern motifs, indicating its ancient origins.

Dating Challenges and Speculations

  • Difficulty in Dating: Direct dating of the cave art is challenging due to the inorganic nature of the black pigment.
  • Estimated Age: The presence of extinct animals and absence of modern symbols suggest the art could be around 2,000 years old.
  • Potential Historical Evidence: The art might provide insights into who colonized Madagascar and when.

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100 years on, remembering Maulana Azad’s words on Hindu-Muslim unity

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: 100 years since Azad's pivotal speech

Mains level: commitment to the values of unity

Film on Maulana Abul Kalam Azad set to hit theatres on Jan 18 - DailyExcelsior

Central idea 

The article reflects on the legacy of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, emphasizing his commitment to Hindu-Muslim unity and his pivotal role during the Partition era. The author expresses concerns about the current state of unity, citing instances of hate and intolerance, and calls for introspection to preserve the values Azad stood for.

Key Highlights:

  • The author reflects on the life and contributions of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, focusing on Azad’s commitment to Hindu-Muslim unity and his refusal to sign the Partition Resolution.
  • The article highlights pivotal moments in Azad’s life, emphasizing his dedication to unity and the challenges faced during the partition.

Key Challenges:

  • The author expresses concern about the current state of Hindu-Muslim unity, citing rising hate and intolerance.
  • Instances of vandalizing Azad’s statue and derogatory comments in Parliament are presented as challenges to the values Azad stood for.

Key Terms:

  • Hindu-Muslim ittehad (unity)
  • Partition Resolution
  • Swaraj
  • Kakinara
  • Kashmir

Key Phrases:

  • “Over my dead body.”
  • “You are throwing us to the wolves.”
  • “Nehru ki galtiyon ka khamyaza Kashmir ko bhugatna pada.”
  • “Julam dhha le, tu sitam dhha le/ Hamare bhi to din hain aane waale.”

Key Quotes:

  • “If an angel were to descend from heaven and declare that India would get Swaraj in 24 hours, provided she relinquishes Hindu-Muslim unity, I will answer, ‘Never’.”
  • “Hate is the favored word; expressions like ‘mohabbat ki dukaan’ are sniggered at.”
  • “Our day, too, will come.”

Anecdotes:

  • The author recalls instances of vandalism against Azad’s statue and derogatory comments in Parliament, reflecting the challenges faced by ideals of unity.

Key Statements:

  • “The angel has descended and made his declaration, but he has been shown his place.”
  • “Indians are being swept by a tsunami of hate.”
  • “Today, I grope about in the endless darkness in which my country has been enveloped.”

Key Examples and References:

  • Mention of Kakinara incident and recent expressions in Parliament.
  • Reference to the filmmaker K A Abbas and his film “Rahi.”

Key Facts:

  • Azad’s refusal to sign the Partition Resolution.
  • Azad’s pivotal role in advocating Hindu-Muslim unity.
  • Instances of vandalism against Azad’s statue and derogatory comments in Parliament.

Key Data:

  • The time frame: 100 years since Azad’s pivotal speech, approaching 2024.

Critical Analysis:

  • The author critically examines the current state of Hindu-Muslim unity, expressing concerns about rising hate and intolerance.
  • The article reflects on the impact of political and social changes on the legacy of freedom fighters like Azad.

Way Forward:

  • The article implies a call for introspection and a renewed commitment to the values of unity, advocating for a more inclusive and tolerant society.

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Private: Mummified Baboons in Ancient Egypt: A Scientific Breakthrough

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Mummified Baboons

Mains level: NA

Baboons

Central Idea

  • Expedition of Lortet and Gaillard: In 1905, French Egyptologists Louis Lortet and Claude Gaillard traveled to Luxor, Egypt, to investigate mummified monkeys found in Gabbanat el-Qurud, also known as the ‘Valley of the Monkeys’.
  • Unexpected Findings: They discovered baboon remains, surprising given that baboons are not native to Egypt.

Resolving Mummified Baboons Mystery

  • Use of Mitochondrial DNA: The team used mitochondrial DNA to trace the baboons’ origins to ancient Adulis in present-day coastal Eritrea.
  • DNA Comparison: Ancient DNA from a mummified baboon was compared with modern baboons’ DNA to determine the geographical origin.
  • Dr. Kopp’s Insights: She highlighted extensive research on genetic variation in baboons, aiding in accurate comparisons.
  • Revelation of Punt’s Location: The study also suggested the possible location of the lost city of Punt, significant for its role in maritime technology evolution.

Significance of a Mummified Baboon

  • Ancient Egyptian Practices: Egyptians mummified animals like cats for religious purposes and as offerings to deities like Bastet and Thoth.
  • Puzzle of Baboon Mummies: The mummification of baboons, indigenous to Sub-Saharan Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, was peculiar due to their non-native status in Egypt.

Role of Mitochondrial DNA in the Study

  • Strontium and Oxygen Isotopes: These isotopes leave geographical imprints in teeth, bones, and hair, varying by location.
  • 2017 Breakthrough: A study successfully recovered DNA from a human mummy, paving the way for genetic analysis of mummified remains.
  • Challenges in DNA Analysis: The DNA needed to be intact and uncorrupted by mummification processes.

Connection between Adulis and Punt

  • Historical Accounts: Adulis was known as a trade center for luxury goods and animals between 332 BC and 395 AD.
  • Artwork and Texts Reference: Ancient depictions and texts suggested Punt as a source of exotic animals, including baboons.
  • Geographical Continuity: The study established a link between Punt and Adulis, supporting theories of them being the same trading center across different eras.

Future Directions and Implications

  • Dr. Kopp’s Perspective: The success in analyzing ancient non-human primate DNA opens new avenues for understanding historical trade routes.
  • Expanding Research: Further DNA analysis from different periods could provide a clearer picture of the Egyptians’ relationship with baboons and broader trade dynamics.

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Problematising periodisation in history

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: na

Mains level: history to be a continual process rather than an aggregate of disparate tranches

Class 8- How, When, And Where-Periodisation of dates

Central idea 

The article talks about how historians divided history into ancient, medieval, and modern times, mostly influenced by European ideas. It questions these divisions and suggests we rethink history as a continuous story. The key point is that there isn’t just one way to be “modern,” and we should consider different perspectives in understanding history.

Key Highlights:

  • The article critiques the conventional historical periodization of ancient, medieval, and modern eras, tracing its origins to European concepts.
  • It explores the imposition of this triad on global history through colonialism and challenges the Eurocentric narrative.
  • The author questions the dichotomies inherent in periodization, such as change versus continuity and stages of development.
  • The notion of modernity is central to periodization, with the article highlighting the evolving understanding of “modernities” in contemporary discourse.
  • The transformation from viewing modernity as an objective reality to a subjective, context-specific concept is emphasized.

Key Challenges:

  • The article confronts the challenge of reevaluating historical narratives deeply entrenched in Eurocentrism.
  • It challenges the dichotomous framework of periodization, urging historians to consider continuity within apparent changes.
  • The author grapples with the resistance to viewing history as a universal entity, urging a shift from fragmented tranches to a continual process.

Key Terms:

  • Periodization: Dividing history into distinct periods for analysis and understanding.
  • Modernity: The quality or condition of being modern; contemporary social and cultural features.
  • Eurocentrism: The dominance or undue focus on European culture, history, and values.

Key Phrases:

  • “Theft of History”: Refers to the imposition of European historical concepts on non-European societies through colonial power dynamics.
  • “Dark Age”: The Eurocentric portrayal of the medieval period as a time of irrationality, regression, and superstition.
  • “Modernities”: Acknowledges the diverse and context-specific manifestations of modernity in different regions.

Key Quotes:

  • “The modern world that we inhabit was thus essentially the West’s creation.”
  • “Modernity that had for long been accepted as an objective reality ‘out there’… has become subjective in each variant context.”
  • “This calls for the treatment of history as a universal entity of which regions form constituents.”

Key Statements:

  • The triad of ancient, medieval, and modern periods originated in Europe and was imposed globally through colonialism.
  • The article challenges the dichotomies of periodization and urges a reconsideration of history as a continual process.
  • The evolving understanding of modernity reflects a shift from a singular, Eurocentric perspective to recognizing diverse “modernities.”

Key Examples and References:

  • Reference to James Mill introducing the triad in Indian history to legitimize British rule.
  • Mention of Jack Goody’s concept of “The Theft of History” in the unequal power relationship between Europe and its colonies.

Key Facts and Data:

  • The triad of ancient, medieval, and modern periodization originated in Europe in the 16th-17th centuries.
  • The article emphasizes the need to reconsider history as a universal entity, acknowledging contributions from all civilizations.

Critical Analysis:

  • The article critically examines the Eurocentric biases embedded in historical periodization.
  • It challenges the binary thinking of periodization and encourages a nuanced understanding of historical processes.
  • The evolving nature of the concept of modernity is analyzed, highlighting its subjectivity in diverse contexts.

Way Forward:

  • The article suggests a shift from fragmented tranches to a more holistic and continual approach to history.
  • Encourages historians to explore emerging areas of research such as climate, planetary history, and reevaluation of pre-history and archaeology.
  • Calls for a more inclusive and diverse narrative that recognizes the contributions of all societies to the world’s historical development.

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Who were Nolamba Pallavas?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Nolamba Pallava Dynasty

Mains level: NA

Central Idea

  • Ancient relics belonging to the Nolamba Pallavas dynasty were unearthed in Cholemarri village, situated 22 km from Penukonda in Sri Sathya Sai district.

Significant Findings

  • Battlefield Site: Evidence suggests a fierce battle in the 9th century AD between the Nolamba Pallavas and the Bhana-Vaidambas.
  • Inscriptions and Artifacts:
    1. An inscription of Mahendra Nolambadhi Raja (875-897 AD), ruler of Henjeru (now Hemavati), was found in the fields.
    2. Hero stones with Telugu inscriptions (written in ancient Kannada script) from the Nolamba and Vijayanagara periods were discovered near Anjaneyaswamy temple.

About the Nolamba Dynasty

  • Time Period: Ruled from the 8th to the 12th centuries C.E.
  • Geographical Extent: Nolambavadi region, covering parts of southeast Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh.
  • Political History: Initially feudatories to Pallavas, Chalukyas of Badami, Gangas, and Rashtrakutas, later to Chalukyas of Kalyani. Often referred to as Nolamba Pallava in inscriptions.
  • Capitals: Initially Chitradurga, later shifted to Hemavati.
  • Origin:
    • Founded by Mangala Nomabathi Raja (735–785 A.D.).
    • Emerged as governors under Pallavas and Chalukyas.
    • Experienced shifts in allegiance between Pallavas, Chalukyas, Banas, and Vaidumbas.
    • The term “Nolambas” came into existence post the Chalukyas’ resurgence under Vikramaditya I.
  • Decline: Overrun by Ganga king Marasimha, who claimed the title Nolambakulantaka.
  • Cultural Contributions: Known for constructing grand temple complexes like Kalleshwara Temple in Aralaguppe, Bhoganandishwara Temple in Nandi, and Ramalingeshwara Temple in Avani.
  • Religious Affiliation: Predominantly Shaivites, with temples dedicated to Lord Shiva.

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Parthenon Sculptures Dispute: A Diplomatic Row between Greece and the UK

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Parthenon Sculptures

Mains level: Not Much

Central Idea

  • UK PM Rishi Sunak cancelled his meeting with visiting Greek PM over the latter’s comments on ancient Parthenon Sculptures housed in the British Museum.

Parthenon Sculptures

  • The Parthenon Sculptures are ancient Greek stone sculptures over 2,000 years old, originally part of the Parthenon temple in Athens.
  • These sculptures, including a 75-meter-long frieze, are significant artifacts of Athens’ Golden Age, depicting gods, heroes, and mythical beings.
  • In the early 19th century, Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin and British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, removed the sculptures from the Parthenon.
  • The marbles were subsequently purchased by British Museum in 1816.

Debate over Legitimacy

  • Greece has accused Lord Elgin of stealing the sculptures, while he maintained he had permission from the Ottoman authorities.
  • The original document granting permission has been lost, leading to disputes over its authenticity and content.

Greece’s Campaign for Return

  • Greece’s demand for the sculptures’ return dates back to its independence in the early 1830s.
  • The campaign gained momentum in the 1980s, spearheaded by Greek actress and then-culture minister Melina Mercouri.
  • The British Museum argues that the sculptures were legally acquired and rejects Greece’s demands for their return.
  • The museum contends that public benefit lies in having the sculptures in two locations, citing the impossibility of reassembling them completely and concerns over safe return.

Current Developments

  • Prime Minister Sunak has described the marbles as a significant asset to the UK and opposes changing laws to facilitate their return.
  • Despite the cancelled meeting, Greek officials intend to continue negotiations with the British Museum.

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

In Dehradun, a slice of Afghanistan

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Introduction of Basmati rice cultivation in Dehradun by Dost Mohammad Khan.

Mains level: cultural tourism

File:Coronation of Ahmad Shah Durrani in 1747 by Breshna.jpg - Wikipedia

Central idea

Dehradun’s historical ties with Afghanistan, spanning from Ahmad Shah Durrani to Yakub Khan, shape the city’s cultural landscape. The legacy includes agricultural influences, introduction of music like the rubab, and specific locations favored by Afghan royals. Safeguarding this historical tapestry is essential for cultural preservation and promoting tourism.

Key Highlights:

  • Founder of Afghanistan: Ahmad Shah Durrani’s role in unifying Afghan tribes, shaping modern Afghanistan.
  • Anglo-Afghan War: Events leading to the war and its impact on the region’s political landscape.
  • Legacy of Dost Mohammad Khan: His settlement in Dehradun and influence on local culture.
  • Basmati Rice Cultivation: Introduction of Basmati rice cultivation in Dehradun by Dost Mohammad Khan.
  • Cultural Impact: How Afghan royals influenced local practices, including hunting and food habits.
  • Cultural Patrons: Contribution to music, introduction of the rubab instrument, and planting fruit trees.

Rubab — The Music Room

Challenges:

  • Political Turmoil: Challenges faced by rulers like Shah Shuja in maintaining stability.
  • British Influence: Impact of British involvement and the power struggles during different dynasties.
  • Impact on Stability: How political unrest affected the region’s stability and governance.
  • Yakub Khan’s Abdication: Circumstances leading to Yakub Khan’s abdication and exile in British India.
  • Adjustment Challenges: The challenges faced by exiled rulers in adapting to a new cultural and political environment.
  • Shift in Power Dynamics: Impact of rebellion and power shifts on the political landscape.

देहरादून में सबसे पहले कौन लाया बासमती चावल जानिए बेहद रोचक है इसका इतिहास -

Key Phrases:

  • Great Game:
    • Geopolitical Rivalry: Explanation of the geopolitical rivalry between British and Russian Empires.
    • Buffer State Significance: Afghanistan’s role as a crucial buffer state during the Great Game.
    • Anglo-Afghan War Context: How the war unfolded amid the larger geopolitical scenario.
  • Treaty of Gandamak:
    • Limited Autonomy: Understanding the terms of the treaty and its implications for Afghanistan.
    • Internal Unrest: Discussion on how the treaty caused internal unrest in Afghanistan.
    • Abdication of Yakub Khan: Consequences leading to Yakub Khan’s abdication.

Key data for mains answer enrichment 

  • Historical Roots: Dehradun’s connection with Afghanistan dates back to Ahmad Shah Durrani’s rule in 1747, shaping the city’s history and cultural influences.
  • Anglo-Afghan War Impact: The Anglo-Afghan War (1838-1842) led to Dost Mohammad Khan’s exile to Dehradun, where he settled and influenced the local culture.
  • Yakub Khan’s Legacy: Yakub Khan, a descendent of Dost Mohammad Khan, acquired Kabul House in Dehradun and contributed to the region’s cultural and horticultural landscape.
  • Cultural Contributions: Afghan royals introduced the rubab instrument, planted fruit trees, and patronized music, leaving a lasting impact on Dehradun’s cultural heritage.

Analysis:

  • Cultural Imprint: Examining the lasting cultural impact of Afghan royals on Dehradun.
  • Local Practices: Influence on local practices, including music, agriculture, and hunting.
  • Preservation Efforts: Highlighting the importance of preserving this cultural heritage.
  • Shaping Historical Narrative: Understanding how political shifts and conflicts shaped the region’s historical narrative.
  • Long-term Impact: Examining the long-term consequences of the Anglo-Afghan War on political dynamics.
  • Local Identity: Discussing how historical events contribute to shaping the local identity.

Key Data:

  • Construction Year of Radha Bhawan:
    • 1871: Establishing Radha Bhawan’s historical significance and contribution to the region.
    • Architectural Heritage: The role of Radha Bhawan as one of the earliest and expansive estates.
  • Yakub Khan’s Death Year:
    • 1924: Understanding the timeline of events related to Yakub Khan’s death and its impact.

Way Forward:

  • Community Involvement: Involving the local community in preserving and celebrating cultural contributions.
  • Heritage Awareness: Promoting awareness about the historical ties and cultural heritage in educational programs.
  • Tourism Promotion: Leveraging historical awareness for cultural tourism and local pride.
  • Educational Initiatives: Incorporating historical narratives into educational curricula to foster a sense of identity.

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Places in news: Edakkal Caves

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Edakkal Caves

Mains level: Not Much

Edakkal Caves

Central Idea

  • Kerala Tourism has launched a project to improve civic amenities around the Edakkal Caves in Wayanad, known for its rock art from prehistoric times.

About Edakkal Caves

  • The Edakkal Caves are situated in the Wayanad district of Kerala on Ambukutty Mala, a prominent hill in the region
  • It is not a typical cave but rather a natural cleft, rift, or rock shelter created by a piece of rock splitting away from the main body.
  • It was discovered in 1890 by Fred Fawcett, a British police official.
  • The caves are also known as “Ampukuthy Mala,” with a local belief that they were created by Rama’s sons, Lava and Kusha, who struck arrows on the mountain.

Significance of the caves

  • Historical Significance: The caves are historically significant as they are situated near an ancient trade route connecting the high mountains of Mysore to the ports of the Malabar Coast.
  • Pictorial Writings: Inside the Edakkal Caves, there are pictorial writings believed to date back to at least 6,000 BCE during the Neolithic period.
  • Unique Stone Age Carvings: The Stone Age carvings are rare and represent the only known examples from South India, which belong to the Mesolithic era.
  • Cultural Significance: The petroglyphs found include depictions of human and animal figures, tools used by humans, and enigmatic symbols yet to be deciphered, indicating a rich cultural and historical heritage.
  • Indus Valley Connect: Some of the paintings found in the Edakkal Caves, particularly those of a “man with jar cup,” have led to speculation about a possible connection to the Indus Valley civilization.

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Rare Alupa Dynasty Inscription discovered

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Alupa Dynasty Inscription

Mains level: NA

Alupa

Central Idea

  • An eminent archaeologist made a remarkable discovery during an archaeological expedition near Mangaluru.
  • They uncovered a rare inscription linked to the Alupa dynasty, shedding new light on the region’s historical tapestry.

About Alupa Dynasty

  • Alupa Dynasty: The inscription marks the first recorded mention of the Alupa dynasty, a historically significant ruling lineage of the region of Tulu Nadu.
  • Regal Demise: Notably, the inscription commemorates the death of an Alupa king, providing a unique glimpse into this ancient dynasty’s history.
  • Siri Cult References: The inscription also contains terms related to the Siri cult, including Siri, Dalya, and Chattara (Chatra), hinting at cultural and religious practices of the era.

Archaeological Findings

  • Keerthi Sthamba: The inscription highlights the role of Kesava in erecting a monument dedicated to Kulashekara Alupendra. A Keerthi sthamba, a pillar, found within the inscription mirrors an original pillar located in Kulashekara, a suburb of Mangaluru.
  • Intricate Details: The inscription features two panels at the top, with a Kannada script below, showcasing 12th-century characters and announcing the death of Alupendra I.
  • Royal Depictions: Human figures within the inscription represent Kulashekara Alupendra. One panel portrays him in a Tribhanga posture, wielding a sword and holding a gurani (shield). Adjacent to it, the king is depicted seated in a meditative pose, resting his palms on his legs.

Significance in Tuluva History

  • Tuluva Culture: This discovery provides valuable insights into the customs, beliefs, and societal structure of the Alupa dynasty’s time.
  • Soma Cult: The Soma cult, established by Soma Sharma in the 11th century AD in Gujarat, finds a connection to this region. The Someshwara temple, built in honor of Soma during Kulashekara Alupendra’s reign, stands as a testament to this cultural fusion.

Who was Kulashekara Alupendra?

  • The Alupa Legacy: Kulashekara Alupendra I, a prominent ruler of the Alupas in South Canara, played a pivotal role in shaping the region’s history.
  • City Establishment: He founded the city of Kulashekara in Mangaluru and enacted stringent regulations for temple administration, which continue to influence temple governance in the region.
  • Language and Culture: Alupendra I was a patron of the Tulu language and culture, contributing to their preservation and promotion. His reign spanned from 1156 to 1215 A.D., with this inscription datable to the 12th century based on palaeography.

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

How Indians and their Boats fared in the Deep Sea?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Read the attached story

Mains level: Not Much

boat

Central Idea

  • A groundbreaking 21-meter-long ship, constructed using an age-old technique of stitching wooden planks with ropes, cords, coconut fibers, natural resins, and oils, is scheduled to embark ‘Baliyatra’ from Odisha to Bali, Indonesia.
  • The initiative, led by the Govt. of India, aims to rekindle the nation’s rich maritime tradition and heritage.
  • This remarkable journey will be manned by a crew from the Indian Navy.

Early Evidence of Maritime Trade

  • Ancient Maritime Trade: The presence of maritime trade networks dating back to circa 3300-1300 BCE is supported by evidence from the Indus Valley, Mesopotamia, and coastal sites along the Arabian Sea. The engineering marvel of the dock at Lothal in Gujarat stands as a testament to the Indus civilization’s profound understanding of tides and winds.
  • Historical Accounts: Ancient texts, including the Vedas (circa 1500-500 BCE), contain vivid accounts of seafaring adventures and the associated risks. Furthermore, the Jataka Tales (circa 300 BCE-400 CE) and Tamil Sangam literature (circa 300 BCE-300 CE) provide explicit references to maritime activities.

Challenges in Recognizing Maritime Heritage

  • Historiographical Biases: Historians have often marginalized India’s maritime heritage in favor of narratives centered on land-based polities. This bias has led to the neglect of India’s maritime contributions.
  • Emergence of Deep-Sea Voyages: The 1st century BCE witnessed intensified mid-ocean voyages driven by the Roman Empire’s demand for Eastern commodities, which harnessed monsoon winds and marked a significant turning point in maritime activity.

Ancient Indian Boats and Shipbuilding

  • Limited Knowledge: The field of marine archaeology in India remains at an early stage of development, with primary insights derived from boat-building traditions, artistic depictions, and literary sources.
  • Traditional Boat-Building Techniques: Indian boat construction traditions favor stitching planks of wood together instead of using nails. These traditions encompass coir-stitched, jong (Southeast Asian), and Austronesian methods, each employing various stitching techniques.
  • Wood Selection: Selection of wood types for shipbuilding depended on their suitability for specific ship components. Mangrove wood excelled in creating sturdy dowels, while teak was preferred for planks, keels, stem, and stern posts.

India’s Role in Maritime Trade

  • Trade Lake of the Indian Ocean: By the Common Era, the Indian Ocean had evolved into a thriving trade network, with India positioned at its heart. This network facilitated trade connections between India and Europe via the Middle East and Africa in the west, as well as Southeast Asia, China, and Malaysia in the east.
  • Evidence of Scale: Estimates indicate the colossal scale of trade, with customs taxes collected from the Red Sea trade route alone contributing significantly to the Roman exchequer.

Uncovering a Hidden Past

  • Ongoing Exploration: Recent excavations have provided substantial insights into India’s maritime history. Nevertheless, experts acknowledge that numerous discoveries await on this journey of exploration.
  • Need for Investment: Marine archaeology in India requires increased funding and recognition to unlock its full potential and contribute meaningfully to humanity’s understanding of the past.
  • Value of Knowledge: Scientific archaeology’s pursuit of India’s deep maritime past offers the potential for immense benefits to humanity. Engaging with this history challenges conventional narratives and represents a subversive yet essential endeavor.

Conclusion

  • The forthcoming voyage of the stitched ship symbolizes India’s dedicated efforts to rejuvenate its maritime heritage, shedding light on the forgotten history of Indian seafarers and their remarkable vessels.
  • Through exploration and study, India seeks to restore the rightful place of its maritime legacy in the annals of history.

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Documented Tripitaka: Tracing Buddhism’s Sri Lanka Connection

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Tripitaka

Mains level: Not Much

tripitaka

Central Idea

  • A team from Buddhavanam Theme Park in Hyderabad embarked on a significant visit to Sri Lanka.
  • Their destination: the third-century BC Buddhist rock-cut caves at Mathale, situated on the Colombo-Kandy route.

Why such move?

  • The team noted that the teachings of Lord Buddha, known as Tripitaka (Sutra, Vinaya, and Abhidhamma pitakas), were originally transmitted orally.
  • However, it was under the auspices of Sri Lankan king Devanampiya Tissa, a contemporary of King Asoka, that these teachings were written on palm leaves in Sri Lanka.
  • This event marked the advent of Buddhist literature in India.

About Tripitaka

  • The Tripitaka, also known as the Pali Canon, is a collection of sacred Buddhist scriptures that form the foundational texts of the Theravada Buddhist tradition.
  • It is divided into three sections, known as the Tripitaka, which literally means “Three Baskets.”

History and significance

  • The Tripitaka was orally transmitted from the time of Gautama Buddha in the 5th century BCE until it was eventually written down in the 1st century BCE.
  • It holds immense historical and religious significance as it contains the teachings, discourses, rules, and guidelines given by the Buddha and his prominent disciples.

Composition of the Tripitaka:

(1) Vinaya Pitaka (Basket of Discipline):

  • Comprises the rules and guidelines for monastic discipline in the Buddhist community.
  • Provides detailed instructions on the conduct and behavior expected from monks and nuns.
  • Covers various aspects, including ethical guidelines, disciplinary codes, and procedures for resolving disputes.
  • Offers insights into the monastic life, the organization of the Sangha (monastic community), and the role of the monastic code in maintaining harmony and ethical conduct.

(2) Sutta Pitaka (Basket of Discourses):

  • Contains the discourses and teachings delivered by Buddha and his close disciples.
  • Includes a vast collection of discourses covering a wide range of topics, such as ethics, meditation, philosophy, and social issues.
  • Consists of individual Suttas (discourses) grouped into different collections or Nikayas, such as the Digha Nikaya (Long Discourses), Majjhima Nikaya (Middle-Length Discourses), Samyutta Nikaya (Connected Discourses), and Anguttara Nikaya (Numerical Discourses).
  • Presents the Buddha’s profound teachings on the Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path, dependent origination, and other core concepts of Buddhism.

(3) Abhidhamma Pitaka (Basket of Higher Teachings):

  • Provides a comprehensive and systematic analysis of Buddhist philosophy and psychology.
  • Explores the nature of mind, consciousness, and reality in intricate detail.
  • Presents the teachings in a more technical and analytical manner, offering an advanced understanding of Buddhist concepts.
  • Divided into seven books, known as the Abhidhamma books, which delve into topics such as consciousness, mental factors, elements, and the path to liberation.
  • Offers a deep exploration of the ultimate nature of existence and the workings of the mind.

Features and Characteristics

  • Authenticity and Authority: The Tripitaka is regarded as the most authoritative and authentic collection of Buddhist scriptures in the Theravada tradition.
  • Canonical Language: The texts are primarily written in Pali, an ancient Indian language close to the language spoken during the Buddha’s time.
  • Extensive Coverage: The Tripitaka covers a wide range of topics, offering comprehensive guidance for practitioners in various aspects of life.
  • Preservation of Early Buddhist Teachings: The Tripitaka is believed to preserve the original teachings of the Buddha, providing insights into his wisdom and teachings.

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

108-Foot Adi Shankaracharya Statue in Omkareshwar, MP

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Adi Shankaracharya

Mains level: NA

Adi Shankaracharya

Central Idea

  • A monumental 108-foot-tall statue of Hindu saint Adi Shankaracharya, known as ‘Ekatmata Ki Pratima’ (Statue of Oneness), was recently unveiled in Omkareshwar, Khandwa district, Madhya Pradesh.
  • This project is part of the government’s efforts to develop Omkareshwar as a prominent religious and tourism destination.

Adi Shankaracharya: A Brief Overview

  • Adi Shankaracharya was a prominent Indian philosopher and theologian, often referred to as Sankara (Jagatguru). He was a staunch advocate of ancient Hinduism.
  • His birthplace Kaladi in Ernakulam, Kerala, is poised to be declared a national monument.
  • He received guidance from his guru, Govinda Bhagavatpada, under whom he diligently studied texts like ‘Gaudapadiya Karika,’ ‘Brahmasutra,’ Vedas, and Upanishads.
  • Shankara propagated the philosophies of ‘Advaita Vedanta’ and ‘Dashanami Sampradaya,’ earning him the title ‘Shankaracharya’ among his disciples.

His Philosophy: Advaita Vedanta

  • Non-Dualism: Shankaracharya’s philosophy, known as ‘Advaita Vedanta,’ espouses non-dualism.
  • Ultimate Reality: It asserts that the world exists due to the creative energy (Maya) of Brahman, the ultimate, transcendent, and immanent God of the later Vedas.
  • Identity of Self: In Advaita Vedanta, the transcendental self of the universe (Atman) and the experiencing self (Jiva) are both identical in truth – both are Brahman. However, the individual self appears different, akin to space inside a container seeming distinct from space as a whole.
  • Overcoming Error: Mistakes and ignorance lead to a plurality (Avidya), but understanding Brahman eliminates these errors, resulting in liberation from the cycle of reincarnation and worldly servitude.

Disciples of Adi Shankaracharya

Shankaracharya’s four closest disciples played pivotal roles in propagating his teachings:

  1. Padmapada: Known for his deep devotion and poetry.
  2. Totakacharya: Devoted to Shankaracharya’s mission and revered for his poetry “Totakashtakam.”
  3. Hasta Malaka: A child prodigy who astounded Shankaracharya with his understanding of Advaita philosophy.
  4. Sureshwara: Initially a householder, he became a disciple after losing a philosophical debate to Shankaracharya.

Contributions of Adi Shankaracharya

  • Shankaracharya introduced the ‘Shanmata’ system, which emphasized worship of the five principal deities and restored the Dashanami structure.
  • He composed numerous devotional and meditative hymns and authored key texts on Advaita Vedanta, including commentaries on major scriptures.
  • Adi Shankaracharya revitalized Hinduism at a time when it faced challenges from Jainism and Buddhism, promoting unity and re-establishing traditions.
  • He established four monastic institutions (Mathas) in different corners of India, unifying the nation and codifying leadership roles:
  1. Sri Sringeri Sharada Peetam in Chikmaglur in Karnataka
  2. Jyotir Matha in the Garhwal region in Uttarakhand
  3. Kalika Matha in Dwarka in Gujarat
  4. Govardhana Matha in Puri in Odisha

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UNESCO Heritage Status for Hoysala Temples in Karnataka

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Hoysala Temples

Mains level: Not Much

hoysala

Central Idea

  • The Hoysala temples located in Belur, Halebid, and Somanathapur in Karnataka were granted UNESCO World Heritage status, marking a significant moment for these architectural marvels.

Hoysala Temples and Their Nomination

  • Previous Recognition: The Chennakeshava temple at Belur and the Hoysaleshwara temple at Halebidu, both situated in Hassan district, have been on UNESCO’s tentative list since 2014.
  • Expansion of the Nomination: The Keshava temple at Somanathapur in Mysuru district was included in the tentative list alongside the other two temples. The Center officially nominated all three as India’s entry for 2022-23 in February 2022.

Distinctive Features of the Hoysala Temples

  • Distinct Architectural Style: The Hoysala temples are renowned for their distinctive architectural style characterized by ornate designs and a stellate plan built on raised platforms.
  • Unique Material: These temples are constructed using choloritic schist, commonly known as soapstone, which is soft and amenable to intricate carving.
  • Artistic Signatures: Many sculptures within the temples bear the signatures of the artists, a unique feature in Indian art history.
  • Intricate Carvings: The doorways of these temples feature intricate carvings, showcasing the remarkable craftsmanship of Hoysala artists.

Historical Timeline

  • Chennakeshava Temple at Belur: Construction began in 1117 CE during the reign of King Vishnuvardhana and was completed in 1220 CE.
  • Hoysaleshwara Temple at Halebid: Commissioned in 1121 CE.
  • Keshava Temple at Somanathapur: Commissioned by Somanatha Dandanayaka in 1268 CE during the rule of Narasimha III.

Impact on Tourism and Future Focus

  • Global Recognition: The UNESCO World Heritage status is expected to bring global recognition to these temples and boost tourism in the region.
  • Enhancing Amenities: Authorities plan to address any concerns raised by UNESCO and focus on improving tourist amenities, including signage and connectivity.
  • Management Action Plan: A management action plan will be implemented to preserve and promote these heritage sites.

Back2Basics: Hoysala Architecture

Origins
  • Rooted in the Karnataka Dravidian architectural tradition, with its beginnings in the 7th century under the Badami Chalukya patronage.
  • Flourished during the Hoysala dynasty’s rule in the 13th century.
Temple-Centric Creations
  • Hoysalas were prolific builders of Hindu temples, dedicating their architectural prowess to deities like Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, and various forms of the Goddess.
  • Star-shaped ground plans with symmetrically arranged shrines are common.
Primary Building Material
  • Soapstone, also known as chloritic schist, was the primary material used.
  • Offering a pliable canvas for intricate carvings and detailing.
Carvings
  • Hoysala temples are renowned for their exceptionally detailed and ornate carvings.
  • Carvings depict scenes from Hindu mythology, celestial beings, deities, animals, and intricate geometric patterns.
Distinctive Features
  • Makartorana, mantapa (both open and closed), circular pillars with sculpted figures and Sthambha buttalikas, vimana with intricate exteriors, shrine variety (ekakuta, dvikuta, etc.), kalasa crowning, salabhanjika, kirtimukh.
  • Extensive depiction of Hindu mythology, live panels featuring various subjects, stellate shrine shapes, occasional erotic sculptures influenced by the Sakta tradition.
Influence of Chola and Chalukya Art
  • Western Chalukyan influence, seen in pillar images known as “Sthambha buttalikas.”
  • Integration of Chola art, exemplified by the image of Mohini on a pillar in the Chennakeshava temple.
  • Hoysala artists adorned both pillar surfaces and tops.

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Explorations at Megalithic Dolmen Site near Moodbidri

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Megalithic Dolmens

Mains level: NA

Megalithic Dolmen Site

Central Idea

  • Recent archaeological explorations near Moodbidri in Dakshina Kannada have unveiled a fascinating array of terracotta figurines, offering insight into the megalithic culture of the region.

About Megalithic Dolmen Site

  • Megalithic Culture: The megalithic culture is renowned for its distinct burial practices and the use of iron in ancient India, with dolmens being a significant part of this culture.
  • Dolmen Features: Dolmens were characterized by the arrangement of colossal stone slabs known as orthostats, forming a square room. These chambers were sealed with another massive stone slab as a capstone. Typically, a round or U-shaped entrance, referred to as a port hole, was carved into the eastern slab.
  • Variety of Names: This intriguing architectural phenomenon was known by various names in South India, such as Kalmane, Pandavara Mane, Moriyara Mane, and Moriyara Betta, indicating its popularity among the local populace.

Key Findings at the Site

  • Dating to 800-700 BC: The unearthed figurines have been dated to approximately 800-700 BC, providing valuable insights into the historical timeline of the dolmen site.
  • Nine Dolmens: The Mudu Konaje site stands as one of the largest megalithic dolmen complexes, comprising nine dolmens situated on the slopes of a stone hill.

Terracotta Figurines found

  • Cow Bovines: Two cow bovines were identified among the figurines. One is a solid handmade representation with a bull’s head, measuring approximately 9 cm in height and 5 cm in width. This figurine exhibits distinct femininity, with attached breasts. It features applique ornamentation and a grove line from the right arm to the left side of the neck.
  • Peacocks: Two peacock figurines were discovered. One is a solid peacock, measuring about 11 cm in height and 7 cm in width, and is colored with red ochre.
  • Mother Goddess: A torso of a mother goddess was found, devoid of head, hands, and legs.

Significance

  • Chronology Determination: The cow bovine figurines discovered within the dolmens offer crucial insights into dating the dolmen structures.
  • Terracotta Insights: The terracotta artifacts found in megalithic burials provide valuable material for studying the Bhoota cult or Daiva Aradhane in coastal Karnataka.
  • Cultural Parallels: The cow bovines, especially the Cow goddess, draw parallels with megalithic terracotta figurines in Malampuzha, Kerala, and Egypt.

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Phanigiri Buddhist artefacts at display in NYC

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Phanigiri Buddhist artefacts

Mains level: NA

phanigiri

Central Idea

  • The Phanigiri artefacts belonging to 200 BCE-400 CE are on display at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.

About Phanigiri

  • Phanigiri, which means “hillock of snake hood,” is a small village located around 150 km from Hyderabad.
  • A treasure trove of ancient Buddhist art was discovered in 1942, and it re-emerged into the world’s spotlight in 2003.

Phanigiri’s Artefacts

  • Stupa-like architecture: The discoveries at Phanigiri, particularly the thoranas (archways), have rewritten the narrative of Buddhism in southern India.
  • Presence of sects: These thoranas are among the earliest found south of Sanchi and provide evidence of both Mahayana and Hinayana schools of thought coexisting in Phanigiri.
  • Deification of Buddha: Phanigiri reveals a crucial transition in the perception of Buddha, from a historical and spiritual figure to a deity. This transformation is etched in the artifacts discovered here.

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Magnificent Nataraja Statue: A Tribute to Chola Artistry

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Natraja

Mains level: Not Much

nataraja

Central Idea

  • In New Delhi’s Pragati Maidan, a grand 27-foot Nataraja statue, the world’s tallest depiction of Lord Shiva in his dancing form, awaits the arrival of G20 leaders.
  • Craftsmen behind the statue trace their lineage 34 generations back to the Cholas.

The Nataraja Masterpiece

  • Crafted from an eight-metal alloy (ashtadhatu) by skilled artisans from Swamimalai, Tamil Nadu.
  • Weighing approximately 18 tonnes, it was transported across the country on a 36-wheel trailer.
  • The statue’s design draws inspiration from three revered Nataraja idols:
    1. Thillai Nataraja Temple in Chidambaram.
    2. Uma Maheswarar Temple in Konerirajapuram.
    3. Brihadeeswara (Big) Temple in Thanjavur (a UNESCO World Heritage Site).

The Cholas and Nataraja

  • All three temples that inspired the Bharat Mandapam Nataraja statue were originally constructed by the Cholas.
  • During the 9th-11th centuries AD, the Cholas ruled much of peninsular India and were known for their patronage of art and culture.
  • Chola art and architecture flourished during their territorial expansion.

Significance: Shiva as the Lord of Dance

  • Lord Shiva’s portrayal as Nataraja evolved from the Vedic deity Rudra.
  • Shiva is a complex deity, embodying both destructive and protective aspects.
  • Nataraja, the Lord of Dance, symbolizes Shiva’s role as both the destroyer and protector.
  • He is known to have invented numerous dances, ranging from calm to fierce and orgiastic.

Iconography of Nataraja

  • Nataraja is often depicted within a flaming aureole or halo, representing the circle of the world.
  • He has long dreadlocks, signifying the energy of his dance, and four arms.
  • In his upper right hand, he holds a damru (hand drum), in the upper left, agni (fire).
  • A dwarf-like figure beneath his foot symbolizes illusion.
  • Nataraja’s front right hand makes the ‘abhayamudra’ (gesture to allay fear), and he points to his raised feet with his front left hand.
  • Despite its complex symbolism, Nataraja typically wears a serene smile, signifying the duality of life and death.

The Lost Wax Method

  • The 27-foot Bharat Mandapam Nataraja statue was created using the traditional ‘lost-wax’ casting method, indigenous to the Chola era.
  • This method dates back at least 6,000 years.
  • It involves creating a wax model, covering it with a special soil paste, heating it to remove the wax, leaving behind a hollow mould, which is then filled with molten metal.
  • This technique was mastered by the Cholas and is considered a pinnacle of metallurgical artistry.

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Sculptures shed light on ancient Mylara Cult

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Mylara Cult

Mains level: NA

mylara

Central Idea

The recent discovery of two sculptures in the Basrur region near Kundapura, Udupi (Karnataka), has brought to light the existence of the ancient Mylara cult in the coastal area.

What is the news?

  • A remarkable sculpture, discovered in a well at Basrur, showcases a royal hero seated on a horse, wielding a sword and a bowl in his right and left hands, respectively.
  • Notably, this sculpture lacks the depiction of Mylaladevi on the horse’s back.

About Mylara Cult

  • Mylara, a revered folk deity, is believed to be a divine incarnation of Lord Shiva.
  • Known by various names such as Mailara, Khandoba, Khanderao, and Khandnatha, this deity holds a diverse range of titles that highlight its multifaceted nature.
  • Its origins can be traced back to the 12th century Shaivite tradition, associated with the revered Lingayat saint and philosopher Siddharama, aka. Siddharameshwara or Siddhalinga.
  • The influence of the Mylara cult spans across the southern regions of India, encompassing Karnataka, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu.

Historical Significance

  • Basrur was a thriving trading hub during the Medieval period, bustling with trading guilds like Uhayadesi and Nanadesi.
  • These guilds actively participated in trade, making Basrur a pivotal center for various cults and cultural exchange.
  • The Mylara cult, known for its prominence in the Deccan region, flourished in Basrur as well.

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Megalithic Hat Stones unearthed in Nagaparamba

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Thoppikkallu

Mains level: Not Much

megalithic

Central Idea

  • Recent archaeological excavations in Tirunaya near Nagaparamba (Kerala) have brought to light a collection of hemispherical laterite stones known as hat stones or Thoppikkallu in Malayalam.

Nagaparamba Megalithic Treasure

  • Thoppikkallu: Hat stones, referred to as Thoppikkallu in Malayalam, served as lids for burial urns during the megalithic era, offering a unique glimpse into burial practices.
  • Cultural Insights: The discoveries may provide valuable insights into the life and culture of the ancient inhabitants of the area, dating back more than 2,000 years.

Unraveling the Mystery of Megaliths

  • Megalithic Structures: Megaliths were constructed as either burial sites or commemorative memorials, creating a distinctive landscape of archaeological significance.
  • Burial Remains: Examples of burial megaliths include dolmenoid cists, cairn circles, and capstones, each with its unique design and purpose.
  • Non-Sepulchral Megaliths: Non-burial megaliths, such as menhirs, hold a different purpose and significance.
  • Historical Context: The majority of Indian megaliths are attributed to the Iron Age, spanning from 1500 BC to 500 BC.
  • Regional Concentration: These intriguing structures are concentrated in states like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana.

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National Manuscripts Bill and Cultural Legacy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Bakhshali Manuscript

Mains level: National Manuscripts Bill

manuscript

Central Idea

  • India’s rich heritage of ancient manuscripts, ranging from mathematical texts to religious scriptures, holds invaluable historical and cultural significance.
  • The proposed National Manuscripts Bill, 2023, aims to safeguard and document this wealth, ensuring accurate records, accessibility, and conservation.

Unveiling the National Manuscripts Bill

  • Bill Objectives: The forthcoming National Manuscripts Bill, 2023, plans to document, catalog, and preserve Indian heritage texts. It is set to be introduced in the Winter Session of Parliament.
  • NMA Composition: The bill proposes the formation of a 10-member National Manuscripts Authority (NMA) with representatives from Culture, Finance, and Education ministries, Central Sanskrit University, State representatives, and private agencies.
  • Apex Policy Making Body: NMA will oversee digitization, conservation, preservation, editing, and publication of manuscripts. It will function as the apex policy-making body in these areas.

India’s Manuscript Treasure

  • Historic Significance: The Bakhshali manuscript, with its early use of zero, symbolizes the intellectual and mathematical achievements of ancient India. Numerous such manuscripts in various scripts exist in libraries worldwide.
  • Vast Manuscript Collection: India boasts around 10 million manuscripts in 80 ancient scripts, encompassing themes like history, religion, literature, and more.
  • Cultural Diversity: Manuscripts are written on diverse materials and span themes in Sanskrit as well as regional languages.
  • Preservation Challenge: The National Mission for Manuscripts (NMM) is tasked with preserving this treasure, an essential endeavor to safeguard cultural and historical identity.

Empowering the National Manuscripts Authority

  • Regulation and Investigation: NMA will possess the powers of a civil court to manage manuscript access. It will also have an investigative arm to probe theft and desecration incidents.
  • Collaboration: NMA can partner with educational institutions for scholarships and fellowships related to manuscript studies.
  • Digital Portal: The NMA will establish a dedicated digital portal for indexing, cataloguing, and sharing manuscript copies.
  • Private Ownership: The authority can acquire manuscripts from private owners if their uniqueness and content’s significance warrants it. Compensation would be determined by experts.

Revitalizing Manuscript Studies

  • Linking Manuscripts with Livelihood: There is a need to intertwine manuscript studies with livelihood, fostering renewed cultural engagement.
  • Global Interest: The proposed survey and documentation of Indian manuscripts abroad are expected to elevate global interest in these texts.

Digital Endeavors by NMM

  • Digitization Efforts: The National Mission for Manuscripts has digitized a substantial number of manuscripts, totaling around 3.3 lakh manuscripts and 3.1 crore folios.
  • Online Access: While over 1.18 lakh manuscripts have been uploaded, approximately 70,000 are accessible to the public online.
  • Other Cultural Institutions: Manuscripts are housed in esteemed institutions like the Sarasvati Mahal Library in Thanjavur, Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute in Pune, Sampurnanand Sanskrit University in Varanasi, and the Oriental Research Institute in Jammu and Kashmir.

Conclusion

  • The proposed National Manuscripts Bill seeks to bridge the past with the present, ensuring the preservation and accessibility of India’s diverse manuscript legacy.
  • By establishing the National Manuscripts Authority and promoting digital initiatives, India aims to share its invaluable cultural wealth with the world, fostering a deeper understanding of its historical and intellectual heritage.

Back2Basics: Bakhshali Manuscript

bakshali manuscript

  • The Bakhshali Manuscript is an ancient mathematical document. It was discovered in 1881, buried in a field in Bakhshali village near Peshawar (Pakistan).
  • It is written in Sharda Script.
  • It predates the work of Brahmagupta, a 7th-century mathematician, and an inscription in the 9th-century Gwalior’s Chaturbhuj Temple.
  • The manuscript is composed of 70 fragile leaves made of birch bark.
  • It contains hundreds of mathematical notations, including the use of zero as a placeholder.
  • Zeros in the manuscript are represented by dots that serve as placeholders for different place values.
  • In 1902, the manuscript was presented to the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, where it has been preserved since.
  • The manuscript is a compilation of mathematical material from multiple periods. Some pages date as far back as the 3rd to 4th century, while others are from the 8th and 10th centuries.

Influence on Modern Mathematics

  • The manuscript is a compendium of rules and illustrative examples.
  • Each example is stated as a problem, the solution is described, and it is verified that the problem has been solved.
  • The sample problems are in verse and the commentary is in prose associated with calculations.
  • The topics covered include fractions, square roots, arithmetic and geometric progressions, solutions of simple equations, simultaneous linear equations, quadratic equations and indeterminate equations of the second degree.

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Species in news: Tharosaurus Indicus

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Tharosaurus Indicus

Mains level: NA

thar

Central Idea

  • The fossilized remains of an ancient, plant-eating dicraeosaurid dinosaur named ‘Tharosaurus Indicus’ were recently recovered near Jaisalmer.

Tharosaurus Indicus

  • Tharosaurus indicus is the name given to an ancient species of dinosaur discovered in the Thar Desert region of Jaisalmer, India.
  • It is a type of dicraeosaurid dinosaur, which was a group of long-necked, plant-eating dinosaurs that lived during the Jurassic period.
  • The fossils of Tharosaurus indicus were found to be around 167 million years old, making them one of the oldest known dicraeosaurids and diplodocoids globally.

Significance of the discovery

  • Dicraeosaurids are characterized by their relatively shorter necks compared to other sauropod dinosaurs and were known for their unique body proportions.
  • This newly discovered species provides valuable insights into the diversity of prehistoric life that existed in the region during ancient times.
  • The name “Tharosaurus indicus” reflects its origin, with “Thar” referring to the Thar Desert and “indicus” indicating its origin in India.
  • This discovery showcases India’s historical significance in the field of paleontology and contributes to our understanding of dinosaur evolution on a global scale.

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Perucetus Colossus Whale:  Heaviest Animal that Ever Lived

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Perucetus Colossus Whale

Mains level: NA

Perucetus Colossus Whale

Central Idea

  • Scientists have unearthed fossils of an ancient giant whale species named Perucetus colossus in Peru.
  • With each vertebra weighing over 100 kgs and ribs measuring nearly 5 feet long, this colossal whale poses a potential contender for the title of the heaviest animal to have ever lived.

About Perucetus Colossus Whale

  • Discovery: Fossils of Perucetus colossus (lived approximately 39 million years ago) were found more than a decade ago in Peru’s Ica desert, a region known for its rich marine fossils.
  • Enormous Size: The whale’s estimated length was around 66 feet (20 meters), shorter than some blue whales that grow over 100 feet.
  • Unique Weight: The ancient giant’s dense and heavy bones contributed to its impressive estimated weight, making it a slow swimmer, most likely dwelling in shallow, coastal waters.
  • Feeding Habits: Without the discovery of the skull, scientists are uncertain about the whale’s diet, speculating it may have scavenged on the seafloor or consumed vast amounts of krill and other marine organisms.

Significance

  • Heaviest Known Animal: If confirmed, Perucetus colossus could surpass the blue whale’s title as the heaviest known animal, living or extinct.
  • Evolutionary Significance: The species highlights the capacity of evolution to generate organisms with characteristics beyond human imagination.
  • Paleontological Mystery: The absence of skull and tooth remains leaves the feeding behavior and ecological role of this ancient giant open to further investigation.

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Gyanvapi’s scientific survey by ASI begins

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Gyanvapi Complex

Mains level: Places of Worship Act

gyanvapi

Central Idea

  • The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has commenced a scientific survey of the Gyanvapi mosque complex in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.
  • It aims to ascertain whether the mosque was constructed atop a pre-existing Hindu temple, a matter that has been a subject of contention.
  • The mosque is not an ASI-protected site, and the ASI has no role in its maintenance or upkeep.

Updates till date

(A) Varanasi Court’s Order

  • Discovery during Previous Survey: During a court-mandated survey in May 2022, a structure claimed to be a “Shivling” by the Hindu side and a “fountain” by the Muslim side was found in a sealed section, which remained inaccessible since a previous Supreme Court order.
  • Exclusion from Survey: The court directed the ASI to exclude the sealed section from the survey while emphasizing the necessity of a scientific investigation to establish the historical facts.

(B) Supreme Court’s Ruling

  • Protection Order: Earlier, the Supreme Court ordered the protection of the area around the claimed “Shivling” discovered during a video survey of the complex.
  • Mosque Management’s Argument: The mosque management contended that the structure in question is part of the water fountain mechanism at the ‘wazukhana’, the reservoir where devotees perform ablutions before offering namaz.
  • Legal Implications: Lawyers representing the mosque cited the Place of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, which prohibits altering the character of any place of worship from its status on August 15, 1947. However, this Act does not apply to the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid legal dispute.

History of the Gyanvapi Mosque

  • Construction: The Gyanvapi Mosque was constructed in 1669 during the reign of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, who ordered the demolition of the existing Vishweshwar temple and its replacement with a mosque.
  • Temple Elements Incorporated: The plinth of the original temple was left intact, serving as the mosque’s courtyard, while one wall was spared and turned into the qibla wall, facing Mecca. Evidence of the temple’s materials can still be seen in the mosque’s construction.
  • Name Origin: The mosque’s name is derived from an adjoining well known as the Gyanvapi or Well of Knowledge.
  • Current Temple: The present Kashi Vishwanath Temple was built in the 18th century, adjacent to the Gyanvapi Mosque, becoming a significant Hindu religious centre over the years.

Longstanding Claims and Legal Framework

  • Claims of Hindu Worship: Many Hindus believe that the original deity of the Vishweshwar temple was hidden inside the Gyanvapi well during Aurangzeb’s raid. This belief has fueled the desire to perform puja and rituals at the site.
  • Places of Worship Act: The Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, stipulates that the nature of all places of worship, except for the one in Ayodhya, should be maintained as it was on August 15, 1947. It aims to preserve the character of religious sites and prevents legal challenges to pre-existing structures.
  • Conflicting Claims: The case involved arguments from both sides, with the temple worshipers claiming that the mosque was built on the site of an older temple, while another side pleaded that it was built on Wakf premises.

Issue in the Limelight

  • Archaeological Survey: In April 2021, a Fast Track Court Civil Judge ordered the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to conduct a comprehensive physical survey of the complex. The survey aimed to determine the structural relationship between the two religious structures.
  • Critique of the Cut-off Date: Worshippers argue that the cut-off date of August 15, 1947, prohibiting claims to religious sites, is arbitrary and denies Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs the right to “reclaim” their places of worship.
  • Opposition to the Law: Some groups have opposed the Places of Worship Act since its introduction, contending that the Centre lacks the authority to legislate on pilgrimage or burial grounds, which fall under the state list.

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PM gifts Upanishads to Joe Bide

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Ten Principal Upanishads

Mains level: Read the attached story

upanishad

Central Idea

  • PM Modi presented the US President Joe Biden with a number of gifts, including a first edition print of the book The Ten Principal Upanishads from 1937.

Ten Principal Upanishads

  • The Ten Principal Upanishads is translated from Sanskrit by Shri Purohit Swami, a scholar of Hindu scripture, and Irish poet WB Yeats.
  • It is considered to be one of the best translations of the Upanishads, some of the most important Hindu religious texts.
  • Written in the mid-1930s, the book was a product of Yeats’ desire to create a translation which is true to the original text while still being accessible for the layperson.

Two categories of Hindu scriptures

There are broadly two categories of Hindu sacred texts: Shruti (loosely translated as “the revealed”) and Smriti (“the remembered”).

[I] Shruti

  • The Shruti category is considered to be the most authoritative and consists of the four Vedas (Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva) and accompanying texts.
  • These include Brahmanas (ritual texts), Aranyakas (“forest” or “wilderness” texts), and Upanishads (philosophical texts).

[II] Smruti

  • The Smruti category of Hindu scriptures is less authoritative – in many ways they are considered to be derived from the first – but more popularly known.
  • These include the great epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata, Dharmashastras, Puranas and all other post-Vedic scriptures.

What are the Upanishads?

  • The Upanishads, also known as the Vedanta – as they signal the end of the total Veda – speculate about the ontological connection between humanity and the cosmos.
  • They serve as foundational texts in many traditions of Hindu theology and have hence attracted far more attention than the Vedas themselves.
  • Dated to roughly 800-500 BC, the Upanishads discuss concepts such as transmigration, which have today become central to Hindu tradition.
  • Upanishads signify texts that were traditionally transmitted in intimate, teacher-student settings, imparting profound knowledge and spiritual insights.

(A) Spiritual Essence

  • The Upanishads form the philosophical portion of the Vedic scriptures known as the Vedanta.
  • They explore the metaphysical and mystical aspects of existence, aiming to unravel the nature of reality, the self, and the ultimate truth.

(B) Origins

  • The Upanishads were composed between 800-500 BC, following the earlier Vedic texts.
  • Various sages, seers, and scholars authored the Upanishads, resulting in a rich diversity of philosophical perspectives.

(C) Themes and Subjects

  • The Upanishads delve into profound concepts, such as the nature of the self (atman), the ultimate reality (brahman) (NOT Brahmin), and the relationship between the two.
  • They explore metaphysical inquiries, the nature of existence, the concept of karma, the path to liberation (moksha), and the interconnectedness of all beings.

Key Upanishads and Teachings 

  • While there are over 200 Upanishads, a set of principal Upanishads is considered the most significant and influential.
  • There are ten main (or principal) Upanishads:
  1. Esha
  2. Kena
  3. Katha
  4. Prashna
  5. Mundaka
  6. Mandukya
  7. Taittiriya
  8. Aitareya
  9. Chandogya
  10. Brihadaranyaka

WB Yeats and his translation of Upanishads

(A) Who was WB Yeats? 

  • WB Yeats (1865-1939) was born in Ireland and is regarded as one of the most influential figures in modern English literature.
  • He was a key figure in the Irish Literary Revival, which sought to promote Irish culture, folklore, and independence.

(B) His Interest in the Upanishads

  • Yeats’ interest in Indian culture and philosophy predates his encounter with the Upanishads.
  • In 1885, he met Mohini Chatterjee, a prominent figure in Bengal’s Theosophical circles, who visited Dublin. This meeting sparked Yeats’ early engagement with Indian themes in his poetry.

(C) Friendship with Rabindranath Tagore:

  • Yeats developed a close friendship with Rabindranath Tagore, the renowned Indian poet, philosopher, and Nobel laureate.
  • In 1912, they met in London, where Tagore introduced Yeats to his translated work, including Gitanjali.

(D) Introduction to the Upanishads:

  • William Rothenstein, a photographer, sent Yeats the manuscripts of Tagore’s partial translation of the Upanishads.
  • Impressed by their spiritual depth and cultural significance, Yeats became intrigued by the Upanishads’ teachings.
  • Disappointed with the available English translations of the Upanishads, Yeats sought to create a translation that was both true to the original text and accessible to a wider audience.
  • He collaborated with Sanskrit scholar Shri Purohit Swami, who helped him translate the Upanishads with an emphasis on clarity and understanding.

Back2Basics: Key Verses from Upanishads

Verse Source Interpretation
“Om Asato ma sadgamaya…” Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.3.28 Lead me from the unreal to the real, from darkness to light, from death to immortality.
“Aham Brahmasmi” Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.10 I am Brahman (NOT Brahmin).
“Tat Tvam Asi” Chandogya Upanishad 6.8.7 That thou art.
“Ayam Atma Brahma” Mandukya Upanishad 1.2 This self is Brahman.
“Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma” Chandogya Upanishad 3.14.1 All this is Brahman.
“Neti, neti” Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 2.3.6 Not this, not this.
“Satyam jnanam anantam brahma” Taittiriya Upanishad 2.1.3 Brahman is truth, knowledge, and infinite.
“Yato vacho nivartante, aprapya manasa saha” Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 2.3.1 Whence words turn away, along with the mind, unable to reach it.

 

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Orvakallu Rock Paintings in AP

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Orvakallu Rock Paintings

Mains level: Not Much

rock cave

Central Idea

  • A recent discovery by D. Kanna Babu, former Superintending Archaeologist, reveals a Mesolithic period rock painting in Orvakallu village, Guntur district, Andhra Pradesh.
  • The painting depicts a person tilling land, shedding light on the social life and culture of the ancient inhabitants.

Orvakallu Rock Paintings

rock cave

  • The researchers while conducting a survey of the lower River Krishna Valley, identified a new prehistoric rock painting in Orvakallu.
  • The painting was found on the walls and ceiling of natural rock shelters on a hillock.
  • The site consists of five caves, two of which exhibit distinct depictions of rock paintings from the Mesolithic Age (approximately 5000 BC).

Composition and Condition of the Paintings

  • The paintings were created using natural white kaolin and red ochre pigments.
  • The passage of time and exposure to air and wind have significantly damaged most of the paintings.
  • Despite the deterioration, some sketches and outlines remain visible for visitors.

Significance of the Find

  • The discovery sheds light on the social life and culture of the people who inhabited the area during the Mesolithic Age.
  • One painting depicts a man catching a wild goat while holding a hooklike implement.
  • Another painting portrays two couples with raised hands, accompanied by a child.
  • Notably, a painted figure shows a man holding a plough, suggesting a semisettled life pattern and agricultural practices.

Understanding the Painted Figures

  • The depiction of a man tilling land indicates the cultivation of crops and a semi-settled lifestyle.
  • The paintings offer valuable insights into the daily activities, occupations, and interactions with the environment of the ancient community.

Back2Basics:

Paleolithic Mesolithic Neolithic Bronze Age Iron Age
Time Period 2.6 million  10,000 BCE 10,000  6,000 BCE 6,000  2,000 BCE 3,300  1,200 BCE 1,200  500 BCE
Characteristics Use of crude stone tools Transition from hunter-gatherer to settled lifestyle Agriculture and farming practices become more prominent Introduction of bronze, a metal alloy made of copper and tin Transition from bronze to iron as the dominant metal
Animals in use Hunter gatherer lifestyle Domestication of plants and animals Domestication of animals Advanced metallurgical techniques Increased trade and warfare
Economy Nomadic existence Emergence of early agriculture and semi-permanent settlements Development of pottery and weaving techniques Rise of complex societies and city-states Emergence of empires and large scale political systems
Artistic Development Cave paintings and engravings Advanced stone tools, including micro-liths Establishment of permanent settlements and early civilizations Development of writing systems and recorded history Flourishing of art, literature, and technology

 

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Places in news: Brahmani Natural Arch

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Brahmani Natural Arch

Mains level: Not Much

brahmani arch

Central Idea

  • The Geological Survey of India (GSI) plans to declare the ‘Brahmani Natural Arch’ in Kanika range of Sundargarh forest division of Odisha as a Geo Heritage Site.
  • This natural arch is believed to date back to the Jurassic period and would be the largest natural arch in India with the Geo Heritage tag.

Brahmani Natural Arch

  • The oval-shaped arch has a base length of 30 meters and a height of 12 meters.
  • The alcove of the arch has a maximum height of 7 meters and a width of 15 meters.
  • India currently has two other natural arches, located at Tirumala hills in Tirupati and Andaman and Nicobar, but both are smaller than the one in Sundargarh.

Its formation

  • The natural arch is composed of ferruginous sandstone from the Upper Kamthi formation.
  • It dates back to the lower to middle Jurassic age, approximately 184 to 160 million years old.
  • Research on the geological significance of the site began in 2017 after its discovery during coal exploration in the district.

Awareness and Preservation Efforts

  • The GSI state unit and Sundargarh forest division conducted an awareness drive in the district to promote the protection of the natural arch.
  • Steps are being taken to promote the proposed geo-heritage site as a cultural pride and potentially name it ‘Brahmani natural arch.’
  • The site could be promoted and preserved as an eco-tourism destination.

Back2Basics:

Geological Heritage Sites in India
Andhra Pradesh Mangampeta Volcanogenic bedded Barytes (Cuddapah Dist.), Eparchaean Unconformity (Chittor Dist.), Natural Geological Arch in Tirumala Hills (Chittor Dist.), Erra Matti Dibbalu located between Vishakhapatnam and Bhimunipatnam.
Maharashtra Lonar Lake (Buldana Dist.)
Kerala Laterite near Angadipuram PWD rest house premises (Malapuram Dist.), Varkala Cliff Section (Thiruvanatapuram Dist.)
Chattisgarh Lower Permian Marine bed at Manendragarh (Surguja Dist.)
Tamil Nadu Fossil wood near Tiruvakkarai (South Arcot Dist.), National fossil wood park in Sattanur (Tiruchirapalli Dist.), Charnockite in St. Thomas Mount (Madras), Badlands of Karai Formation with Cretaceous fossils along Karai – Kulakkalnattam Section (Perambalur District)
Karnataka Columnar Lava in St. Mary Island (Udupi Dist.), Pillow lavas near Mardihalli (Chitradurga Dist.), Peninsular Gneiss in Lalbagh (Bangalore), Pyroclastics & Pillow lavas in Kolar Gold fields (Kolar Dist.)
Gujarat Sedimentary Structures – Eddy Markings in Kadan Dam (Panch Mahals Dist.)
Himachal Pradesh Siwalik Fossil Park (Saketi, Sirmur dt.)
Rajasthan Sendra Granite (Pali Dist.), Barr Conglomerate (Pali Dist.), Stromatolite Fossil Park near Jharmarkotra Rock Phosphate deposit (Udaipur Dist.), Gossan in Rajpura-Dariba Mineralised belt (Udaipur Dist.), Akal Fossil Wood Park (Jaisalmer Dist.)
Odisha Pillow Lava in iron ore belt at Nomira (Keonjhar dist.)
Jharkhand Plant Fossil bearing Inter-trappean beds of Rajmahal Formation around Mandro (Sahibganj dist.)
Nagaland Nagahill Ophiolite Site near Pungro
Sikkim Stromatolite bearing Dolomite/Limestone of Buxa Formation at Mamley, near Namchi (South district), Stromatolite bearing Dolomite / Limestone of Buxa Formation, Sikkim

 

 

https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/bhubaneswar/2023/jun/11/gsi-proposes-geo-heritage-tag-for-jurassic-age-natural-arch-in-odisha-2583901.html

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Delhi’s Ancient Secrets: Recent Excavations at Purana Qila

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Findings at Purana Qila

Mains level: Not Much

purana qila

Central Idea

  • Delhi’s Purana Qila, also known as the Old Fort, is a historic site with a rich and diverse past.
  • Recent excavations have shed light on its continuous history since the pre-Mauryan era.

About Purana Qila

  • The origins of Purana Qila date back to antiquity, with the exact foundation period unknown.
  • It was later rebuilt by Sher Shah Suri and Mughal emperor Humayun.
  • The fort holds immense cultural and historical importance, and many believe it to be the site of Indraprastha mentioned in the Mahabharata.
  • The fort, believed to be the location of the ancient city of Indraprastha, showcases architectural remnants from various periods, including the Mughal and Rajput eras.

Architectural marvels at Purana Qila

  • Purana Qila’s architectural features include walls that rise to a height of 18 meters, spanning approximately 1.5 kilometers.
  • It boasts three arched gateways, including the Bara Darwaza, the south gate (Humayun Gate), and the Talaqi Gate.
  • The fort’s Qila-i-Kuhna Mosque, built by Sher Shah Suri in 1541, showcases pre-Mughal architecture with its pointed arches and elegant prayer niches.
  • The Sher Mandal, a double-storeyed octagonal tower, served as Humayun’s private observatory and library.
  • It features decorative plaster-work and remnants of stone shelving for books.

Recent excavation discoveries

  • Excavations have uncovered significant artifacts, including shards of Painted Gray Ware pottery dating from 1200 BC to 600 BC, indicating the pre-Mauryan period.
  • Other discoveries include a 900-year-old Vaikuntha Vishnu from the Rajput period, a terracotta plaque of Goddess Gaja Lakshmi from the Gupta period, and a 2,500-year-old terracotta ring well from the Mauryan period.
  • Numerous beads, seals, copper coins, and a bone needle have also been found, highlighting the site’s role as a center for trade activities.

Cultural chronology and preservation

  • The ongoing excavation aims to establish a complete chronology of the site, spanning different historical periods from the Kushan to the Mughal era.
  • The remains of Purana Qila will be preserved, conserved, and transformed into an open-air museum to showcase the rich historical legacy of Delhi.
  • The excavated artifacts will also be displayed to delegates attending the G-20 summit, further promoting the cultural heritage of the site.

 

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Historic ‘Sengol’ to be installed in new Parliament

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Sengol

Mains level: Not Much

sengol

Central Idea

  • Prime Minister is set to install the ‘Sengol,’ a historical sceptre from Tamil Nadu, in the new Parliament building, which will be inaugurated on May 28, 2023.

What is Sengol?

  • Sengol is a historical sceptre that holds significant cultural and historical value in Tamil Nadu.
  • Derived from the Tamil word “Semmai,” meaning “Righteousness,” Sengol represents a symbol of justice and good governance.
  • In the Chola era, the transfer of power from one king to another was sanctified with the sceptre being handed over as a symbol of authority and the responsibility to rule with fairness and justice.
  • It gained prominence during the transfer of power from the British to the Indian people at the time of India’s independence.

History: Traditional Chola Practice and Symbolism

  • Historical Practice: The presentation of the Sengol aligns with a traditional Chola practice where Samayacharyas (spiritual leaders) led the coronation of kings, sanctifying the transfer of power and symbolically recognizing the ruler.
  • Symbol of Justice and Good Governance: The Sengol, a symbol of justice and good governance, holds cultural significance as recorded in ancient Tamil texts like Silapathikaram and Manimekalai.

Sengol’s recent context and creation

  • Lord Mountbatten’s Question: Prior to Independence, Lord Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India, asked Nehru about the ceremony that should symbolize the transfer of power.
  • Inspiration from Chola Dynasty: Rajagopalachari, the last Governor-General of India, suggested a ceremony from the Chola dynasty, where the transfer of power was sanctified and blessed by high priests.
  • Manufacturing the Sengol: Rajagopalachari approached Thiruvaduthurai Atheenam, a renowned Shaivite mutt in Tamil Nadu’s Tanjore district, which commissioned the creation of the Sengol from Chennai-based jewellers, “Vummidi Bangaru Chetty.”
  • Craftsmanship: Vummidi Ethirajulu and Vummidi Sudhakar skillfully crafted the five-foot-long Sengol, featuring a symbolic ‘Nandi’ bull representing justice.

Significance of the ‘Sengol’

  • Symbolic importance: Derived from the Tamil word “Semmai,” meaning “Righteousness,” the ‘Sengol’ represents a significant historical symbol of Independence.
  • Marks Transfer of Power: On August 14, 1947, Pandit Nehru, the first PM, received the ‘Sengol’ from the Adhinam of Tamil Nadu, marking the shift of power from the British to the Indian people.

The Handover Ceremony

  • Arrival of the Sengol: Three individuals, including the deputy high priest of the Adheenam, a Nadaswaram player, and an Oduvar (singer), brought the newly made Sengol from Tamil Nadu.
  • The Ceremony: On August 14, 1947, the Sengol was handed over to Lord Mountbatten during a procession, and later taken to Jawaharlal Nehru’s house, where it was officially presented to him.
  • Sacred Song and Attendees: A special song composed by the 7th-century Tamil saint Tirugnana Sambandar, as specified by the high priest, accompanied the ceremony. Dr. Rajendra Prasad, India’s first president, and other dignitaries were present during the event.

Ceremonial Procession and Tamil Traditions

  • Grand Procession: The Sengol will be ceremoniously transported to the House in a grand procession.
  • Musical Ensemble: Traditional Nadaswaram musicians, playing Tamil Nadu’s iconic instrument, will lead the procession, and PM is expected to walk alongside them, embracing Tamil culture.
  • Adheenams and Sanctification: Adheenams, priests from Shaivite mutts in Tamil Nadu, will be present in the Lok Sabha’s Well. They will sanctify the Sengol with holy water after Prime Minister Modi greets them, honoring Tamil traditions.
  • Oduvars and Sacred Recitation: Tamil temple singers known as Oduvars will recite the “Kolaru Padhigam” lyrically, while the Nadaswaram musicians enchant with their soulful music.

Conclusion

  • The Sengol continues to be revered as a representation of India’s independence and serves as a tangible reminder of the country’s rich cultural heritage and the values it upholds.
  • Its installation in the new Parliament building further emphasizes its importance and aims to educate and inspire people about this historical event and the principles it embodies.

 

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

What is Carbon Dating? How does it work?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Carbon Dating

Mains level: Not Much

carbon dating

Central Idea: Allahabad high court ordered the ASI to conduct the carbon dating process of the ‘Shivling’ found in the premises of the Gyanvapi mosque, without causing any damage to the structure.

What is Carbon Dating?

  • Carbon dating is a widely-used method for determining the age of organic materials that were once living.
  • The method is based on the radioactive decay of Carbon-14 (C-14), an isotope of carbon with an atomic mass of 14.
  • It works by measuring the ratio of C-12 to C-14 in the atmosphere, as well as in plants and animals that acquire carbon through photosynthesis or food consumption.

The half-life concept

  • Carbon-14 has a half-life of 5,730 ± 40 years—i.e., half the amount of the radioisotope present at any given time will undergo spontaneous disintegration during the succeeding 5,730 years.
  • Because carbon-14 decays at this constant rate, an estimate of the date at which an organism died can be made by measuring the amount of its residual radiocarbon.

Limitations of Carbon Dating

  • Carbon dating has certain limitations and cannot be applied in all circumstances.
  • It is not suitable for determining the age of non-living things such as rocks.
  • Carbon dating becomes less accurate for objects older than 40,000-50,000 years, as the amount of detectable C-14 becomes significantly small.
  • Other radiometric dating methods are employed to determine the age of inanimate objects, which rely on the decay of radioactive elements present in the material.
  • Examples of such methods include potassium-argon dating and uranium-thorium-lead dating, which analyze the ratios of specific isotopes to estimate the age of rocks.

Other Dating Methods

In addition to radiometric dating, there are alternative methods to determine the age of objects.

  • Cosmogenic nuclide dating: CRN is one such method that utilizes radioactive decay to estimate age and is commonly used to study the age of ice cores in Polar Regions.
  • Potassium-argon dating: A radiometric dating method that measures the ratio of potassium to argon isotopes in rocks to determine their age.
  • Uranium-thorium-lead dating: A radiometric dating method that analyses the ratios of uranium, thorium, and lead isotopes in rocks to estimate their age.

 

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Copper plates decoded reveal new info on Shilabhattarika

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Shilabhattarika

Mains level: NA

Central idea: The article talks about the discovery of new information on the celebrated ancient Sanskrit poetess Shilabhattarika through the decoding of copper plates by the Pune-based Bhandarkar Institute.

Who was Shilabhattarika?

  • Shilabhattarika was a 9th-century Sanskrit poet from India.
  • She lived near the Narmada River and the Vindhya mountains.
  • Her poetic skills were praised by medieval Sanskrit literary critics.
  • It is speculated that she may be the same as Shilamahadevi, the queen of 8th-century Rashtrakuta ruler Dhruv.
  • According to recent research, she was the daughter of Chalukya ruler Pulakeshin II.

Her literary works

  • Shilabhattarika is known to have written at least 46 poems on various topics, such as love, morality, politics, nature, beauty, the seasons, insects, anger, indignation, codes of conduct, and the characteristic features of various kinds of heroines.
  • Shilabhattarika is considered a leading figure of the Panchali literary style, which maintains “a balance between words and meaning”.
  • According to Rajashekhara, the Panchali style can be traced to the works of Shilabhattarika, and possibly in some of the works of the 7th-century poet Bana.
  • Sharangadhara-paddhati, a 14th-century anthology, praises her and three other female poets for their great poetic genius and erudition.
  • One of the most iconic songs of the noted Marathi poetess Shanta Shelke, “toch chandrama nabhat” (it is the same moon in the sky), draws inspiration from the verses of Shilabhattarika.

Key findings of the recent research

  • The research analyzed a copperplate charter consisting of 5 copper plates dating back to the reign of Badami Chalukyan ruler Vijayaditya (696-733 CE).
  • The plates were held together by a copper ring that bore the varaha (boar) seal, which is the trademark of the Badami Chalukyas.
  • The Sanskrit text inscribed in late-Brahmi script contained a total of 65 lines.
  • The charter revealed that King Vijayaditya Chalukya had donated the village of Chigateri to a scholar named Vishnu Sharma, based on the recommendation of Mahendravarma, Shilabhattarika’s son.
  • Shilabhattarika’s husband, Dadiga, was deputed as the governor of Kogali, while his elder brother Polavira succeeded their father Mokkara as the ruler of the Western Ganga dynasty, which acted as subordinates to the Chalukyas of Badami and fought against the Pallavas of Kanchi.
  • The plates also mentioned the names of Shilabhattarika’s father-in-law, Mokkara (or Mushkara), and his father, Durvinita, who was a proficient composer and had patronized Bharavi, the author of the classical epic Kiratarjuniya.

 

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Conservation work at Delhi’s Zafar Mahal to begin

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Zafar Mahal

Mains level: Not Much

zafar mahal

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is set to initiate conservation works at Zafar Mahal in south Delhi’s Mehrauli.

Zafar Mahal

  • Zafar Mahal, located in Mehrauli village, South Delhi, India, is considered the last monumental structure built during the fading years of the Mughal era.
  • The palace was built in the 18th and 19th centuries, with a forlorn history due to the deportation of the last Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar II, by the British.
  • The monument is now in a neglected and ruined state and locals often play cricket and gamble inside the protected monument.

History

  • The Mughal dynasty ended after 332 years when the last Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar II (1837–1857) was deported to Rangoon, Burma, now Myanmar from the imperial city of Delhi.
  • The palace had graves in the precincts of Zafar Mahal built within a marble screen enclosure by Jahandar Shah for his father Bahadur Shah I and others who followed, and is a minor reflection of the history of the place.
  • Bahadur Shah Zafar II, who wished to be buried in the precincts of the palace, was buried in Rangoon.
  • The palace used to be visited by Bahadur Shah Zafar II for hunting during the monsoon season, and he was honoured here during the Phool Walon Ki Sair festival held in February/March.

Key Structures

  • Zafar Mahal consists of the Mahal or the palace, built in the 18th century, and the entrance gate, reconstructed in the 19th century.
  • The palace is a three-storied structure in red sandstone embellished with marble, and the gate is imposing with an 11.75 feet opening at the entrance.
  • A masjid called the Moti Masjid, built by Bahadur Shah I, was also located within the palace precincts.
  • The palace now sits in a dilapidated condition and its restoration is limited by the inadequate documents to deduce the original construction details.

Demolished or Illegally Occupied Structures

  • Zafar Mahal used to be a huge palace consisting of many other structures that are no longer present or occupied by local residents.
  • These structures include the Diwan-e-Khaas of Bahadur Shah Zafar, the house of Mirza Babur, the Baoli of Aurangzeb, the house of Mirza Nili, the Thana of Bahadur Shah Zafar, the house of Mirza Salim, and the Khwas Pura.

 

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Places in news: Thirunelly Temple

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Thirunelly Temple

Mains level: NA

thirunelly

The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) has urged the government to conserve the historically significant structures, including the 600-year-old ‘Vilakkumadom’, an exquisite granite structure, at the Sree Mahavishnu Temple at Thirunelly in Wayanad district.

About Thirunelly Temple

  • The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is also known as Sahyamala Kshetram.
  • It is also referred to as the ‘Kashi of the South’ and is considered as an important pilgrimage center for Hindus.
  • It is located at the confluence of three rivers – Papanasini, the holy river, which is believed to have the power to wash away sins, Kudamurutti, and Koothappuzha.
  • The temple has a unique circular structure made of granite stones, which is believed to have been constructed by Lord Brahma himself.
  • It has beautiful architecture and features intricate carvings, mural paintings, and sculptures.
  • The temple celebrates several festivals throughout the year, including Vishu, Navaratri, and Thirunelli festival.

Renovation plan

  • The renovation works include the reconstruction of the chuttambalam or the structure around the sanctum sanctorum, except for the balikkalpura structure on the front side.
  • The renovation work also includes the completion of the vilakkumadam, an exquisite granite structure that has a history dating back to the 15th century AD.
  • The renovation works also include the renovation of the panchatheertham pond and the pathway to the papanasini bath ghat where devotees perform the bali ritual.

Why in news?

  • The temple structure has a history dating back to the 15th century AD, and stories related to the architecture and style of the temple are associated with it.
  • In guise of renovation, there is a concern over the loss of valuable precincts and the destruction of heritage.
  • The incomplete structure that stood as testimony to a rich cultural heritage has been remodelled in an insensitive way.

 

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Uthirameur Inscription: Ancient Tamil proof of Democratic Provisions

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Uthiramerur inscriptions

Mains level: Democracy since Indian Civilizations

uthirameur

PM Modi referred to an over 1,100-year-old inscription found in Uthirameur, Tamil Nadu, which talks about rules for a local body, including provisions for disqualifying a member.

What are Uthiramerur inscriptions?

  • Uthiramerur inscriptions are a set of ancient Tamil inscriptions found in Uthiramerur, a town in the Kanchipuram district of Tamil Nadu.
  • These inscriptions date back to the 10th century CE and were created during the reign of the Chola dynasty, which ruled over a large part of South India.
  • It was crafted under the rule of Parantaka Chola I (907 – 956 AD.)

What does the inscription say?

The temple inscriptions of Uthiramerur provide historical descriptions of rural self-governance.

(1) Sabha and Ur

  • Uthiramerur had two village assemblies: Gram Sabha and Ur.
  • Sabha was exclusively a Brahmin assembly, while the Ur was made up of people belonging to all classes.
  • Sabha managed land sales, endowment fund for dredging a tank, and assigned duties to the Ur for managing deserted land.
  • Sabha assembled in the hall of the local temple and was summoned through beating of the drums.
  • The inscriptions contained references to variyars, the executive officers subordinate to the Sabha.

(2) Administrative System

  • The executive powers were given to committees called Variyams during the Chola king Parantaka I’s reign (907–955).
  • Each variyam constituted 6 to 12 members, depending on the importance of its functions.
  • The first inscription (dated 919 CE) described the rules for electing committee members.
  • The second inscription (dated 921 CE) described some amendments to these rules to make them more practical.

(3) Committees and Qualifications

  • The village had 30 kudumbus or wards, from which the members of various committees were selected annually.
  • The inscription lays down the qualifications for a nominee, including ownership of tax-paying land, residence on self-owned land, age between 35 and 70 years, knowledge of mantras and the Brahmanas, and not being associated with certain offenses or activities.
  • The candidates were selected via Kudavoloi (pot of palm leaf tickets) system.
  • The tenure of a committee member was 360 days.
  • Anyone found guilty of an offense was immediately removed from the office.

(4) Punishments

  • The Uthiramerur inscriptions indicate that parading on a donkey was a punishment for offenses such as incest, adultery, theft, and forgery.

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Antiquities abroad: What Indian, international laws say

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Antiquities

Mains level: Not Much

antiq

Central idea: Indian authorities are pushing for restitution of stolen antiquities and ancient religious artefacts.

What is an antiquity?

  • An antiquity is defined by the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, 1972 as-
  1. Any coin, sculpture, painting, epigraph or other work of art or craftsmanship;
  2. Any article, object or thing detached from a building or cave;
  3. Any article, object or thing illustrative of science, art, crafts, literature, religion, customs, morals or politics in bygone ages;
  4. Any article, object or thing of historical interest that has been in existence for not less than one hundred years.
  • For manuscripts, records or other documents of scientific, historical, literary or aesthetic value, this duration is not less than seventy-five years.

What do international conventions say?

  • The UNESCO 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property defined “cultural property” as the property designated by countries having “importance for archaeology, prehistory, history, literature, art or science.”
  • The Convention further stated that “the illicit import, export and transfer of ownership of cultural property is one of the main causes of the impoverishment of the cultural heritage of the countries of origin of such property and that international co-operation constitutes one of the most efficient means of protecting each country’s cultural property.”
  • The General Assembly of the UN and the UN Security Council in 2015 and 2016 also raised concerns about the illicit international traffic of cultural items and related offenses.
  • An INTERPOL report in 2019 indicated that almost 50 years after the UNESCO convention, the illicit international traffic of cultural items and related offenses is increasingly prolific.

What do Indian laws say?

  • In India, Item-67 of the Union List, Item-12 of the State List, and Item-40 of the Concurrent List of the Constitution deal with the country’s heritage.
  • The Antiquities (Export Control) Act was passed in April 1947 to ensure that no antiquity could be exported without a license.
  • The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act was enacted in 1958.
  • The Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, 1972 (AATA) was implemented on April 1, 1976, after an uproar in Parliament over the theft of a bronze idol from Chamba and some important sandstone idols from other places.
  • Under the AATA, it is not lawful for any person other than the Central Government or any authorized agency to export any antiquity or art treasure, and no person shall carry on the business of selling or offering to sell any antiquity except under and in accordance with the terms and conditions of a license granted by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

What is the provenance of an antiquity?

  • Provenance includes the list of all owners from the time the object left its maker’s possession to the time it was acquired by the current owner.

How is ownership proved?

  • The requesting party needs to furnish, at its expense, the documentation and other evidence necessary to establish its claim for recovery and return, according to the UNESCO 1970 declaration.
  • In India, the first thing in order to prove ownership is the complaint (FIR) filed with the police. In many cases, there is no FIR for missing antiquities.
  • However, other proof such as details mentioned by reputed scholars in research papers can also be helpful.

How to check for fake antiquities?

  • Every person who owns, controls or is in possession of any antiquity shall register such antiquity before the registering officer and obtain a certificate in token of such registration under section 14(3) of the AATA.
  • The National Mission on Monuments and Antiquities, launched in March 2007, has registered

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Assam’s Maidams meet UNESCO technical requirements for heritage centre

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Charaideo Maidams, Ahom Kingdom

Mains level: Not Much

maidam

Assam’s pyramid-like structures known as moidams or maidams have met all the technical requirements of UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre.

Charaideo Maidams

  • The Charaideo maidams represents the late medieval (13th-19th century CE) mound burial tradition of the Tai Ahom community in Assam.
  • The Ahoms preferred to place the departed family members at Charaideo where the first king Sukapha was laid to rest.
  • The historical chronicles inform that wives, attendants, pet animals and huge quantity of valuables were buried with the departed kings.
  • The Charaideo Maidams enshrine the mortal remains of the members of the Ahom royalty, who used to be buried with their paraphernalia.
  • After the 18th century, the Ahom rulers adopted the Hindu method of cremation and began entombing the cremated bones and ashes in a Maidam at Charaideo.
  • Out of 386 Maidams explored so far, 90 royal burials at Charaideo are the best preserved, representative of and the most complete examples of mound burial tradition of the Ahoms.

Architecture details

  • Architecturally it comprises a massive underground vault with one or more chambers having domical superstructure.
  • It is covered by a heap of earthen mound and externally it appears a hemispherical mound.
  • At the top of the mound a small open pavilion chow-chali is provided.
  • An octagonal dwarf wall encloses whole maidam.

 

Ahoms Dynasty

  • The Ahom, also known as the Tai-Ahom, are an ethnic group from Assam and Arunachal Pradesh in India.
  • This ethnic group is made up of interbred descendants of the Tai people, who first came to Assam’s Brahmaputra valley in 1228, and indigenous people who later joined them.
  • Sukaphaa, the Tai group’s leader, and his 9000 supporters founded the Ahom empire (1228–1826 CE), which ruled over part of modern-day Assam’s Brahmaputra Valley until 1826.
  • Charaideo, more than 400 km east of Guwahati, was the first capital of the Ahom dynasty founded by Chao Lung Sukaphaa in 1253.
  • The current Ahom people and culture are a mix of the ancient Tai people and culture, as well as indigenous Tibeto-Burman people and cultures that they assimilated in Assam.

 


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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Hidden corridor discovered in Pyramid of Giza using Cosmic-Ray Muon Radiography

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Pyramids of Giza, Cosmic-Ray Muon Radiography

Mains level: Not Much

muon

A hidden corridor has been unearthed by scientists inside the Great Pyramid of Giza using a non-invasive technique called cosmic-ray muon radiography.

What is Cosmic-Ray Muon Radiography (CMR)?

  • CMR is a technique used to study the density and composition of materials hidden within large and dense objects, such as geological formations, archaeological sites, and industrial facilities.
  • The technique involves using muons, a type of cosmic-ray particle, to generate images of the interior of such objects.
  • Muon particles are created when cosmic rays, mostly protons and atomic nuclei, collide with atoms in the Earth’s upper atmosphere.
  • These muons travel through the atmosphere and penetrate deep into the ground, passing through objects along their path.
  • Muons are highly penetrating particles that can penetrate several meters of rock or other materials, making them ideal for imaging the internal structure of objects.

Working principle

  • The principle behind CMR is to measure the flux of muons passing through an object and compare it to the expected flux based on the object’s geometry and composition.
  • Differences in the measured and expected flux indicate variations in the object’s density or composition, which can be used to create an image of the object’s internal structure.

Applications

Some key applications of cosmic-ray muon radiography include:

  1. Volcano monitoring: By using muon radiography to create images of the interior of volcanoes, scientists can better understand their structure and potential eruption hazards.
  2. Archaeology: Muon radiography can be used to explore the interior of pyramids and other ancient structures without damaging them.
  3. Nuclear reactor monitoring: Muon radiography can be used to detect the presence of nuclear materials within reactors and to monitor their condition over time.

Great Pyramid of Giza

muon

  • The Great Pyramid is the largest of the three pyramids in Giza, originally standing roughly 147 m above the Giza plateau.
  • Construction was started in 2550 BC, during the reign of Khufu, often considered the greatest pharaoh of Egypt’s old kingdom.
  • It is estimated that the pyramid was built using 2.5 million stone blocks, each weighing between 2.5 and 15 tonnes.

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

ASI finds 1,300-yr-old Buddhist Stupa in Odisha

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Stupa Architecture

Mains level: Ancient Buddhist Architecture

stupa

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) stumbled upon a 1,300-year-old stupa right in the middle of a Khondalite mining site in Odisha’s Jajpur district.

About the Stupa

  • The stupa could be 4.5-meter tall and initial assessment showed it may belong to the 7th or 8th
  • It was found at Parabhadi which is situated near Lalitagiri, a major Buddhist complex, having a large number of stupas and monasteries.
  • The newly discovered stupa was possibly disfigured in an earlier period.

Khondalite

stupa

  • Khondalite is a foliated metamorphic rock.
  • It is also called Bezwada Gneiss and Kailasa Gneiss.
  • It was named after the Khond tribe of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh because well-formed examples of the rock were found in the inhabited hills of these regions of eastern India.

 

Back2Basics: Lalitagiri Buddhist Complex

stupa

  • Lalitagiri is a major Buddhist complex in the state of Odisha.
  • The complex is home to stupas, ‘esoteric’ Buddha images, and monasteries (viharas), which is the oldest site in the region.
  • Significant finds at this complex include Buddha’s relics. Tantric Buddhism was practiced at this site.
  • Together with the Ratnagiri and Udayagiri sites a short distance away, Lalitagiri is part of the “Diamond Triangle”.
  • It used to be thought that one or all of these were the large Pushpagiri Vihara known from ancient records, but this has now convincingly located at a different site.

Stupa Architecture

stupa

In the most basic sense, as an architectural representation of a sacred burial site, a stupa — no matter where it is located in the world or when it was built — has three fundamental features.

  • A hemispherical mound (anda) The anda’s domed shape (green highlights) recalls a mound of dirt that was used to cover the Buddha’s remains. As you might expect, it has a solid core and cannot be entered. Consistent with their symbolic associations, the earliest stupas contained actual relics of the Buddha; the relic chamber, buried deep inside the anda, is called the tabena. Over time, this hemispherical mound has taken on an even grander symbolic association: the mountain home of the gods at the center of the universe.
  • A square railing (harmika) The harmika (red highlights) is inspired by a square railing or fence that surrounded the mound of dirt, marking it as a sacred burial site.
  • A central pillar supporting a triple-umbrella form (chattra) The chattra, in turn, was derived from umbrellas that were placed over the mound to protect it from the elements (purple highlights). Just as the anda’s symbolic value expanded over time, the central pillar that holds the umbrellas has come to represent the pivot of the universe, the axis along which the divine descends from heaven and becomes accessible to humanity. And the three circular umbrella-like disks represent the three Jewels, or Triantha, of Buddhism, which are the keys to a true understanding of the faith: (a) Buddha; (b) dharma (Buddhist teachings or religious law); and (c) sangha (monastic community).

Around these three core building blocks were added secondary features.

  • Enclosure wall with decorated gateways (toranas) at the cardinal directions The wall — with its trademark three horizontal stone bars (in the top image) — surrounds the entire structure. The wall is marked in light blue highlights and the toranas in yellow.
  • A circular terrace (medhi) The terrace — surrounded by a similar three-bar railing — supports the anda and raises it off the ground (black highlights); it likely served as a platform for ritual circumambulation.

 

 

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Key findings about Keeladi Excavation

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Keeladi Civilization, Sangam Age

Mains level: Major civilizations

keeladi

Central idea: Keeladi is an archaeological site that has been excavated by the Tamil Nadu State Department of Archaeology since 2014. Recent excavations here has pushed the Sangam age further back.

About Keeladi

keeladi

  • Keeladi is a tiny hamlet in the Sivaganga district in south Tamil Nadu.
  • It is about 12 km south-east to the temple city of Madurai and is located along the Vaigai River.
  • The excavations here from 2015 prove that an urban civilisation existed in Tamil Nadu in the Sangam age on the banks of the Vaigai River.

How is Keeladi linked to Sangam age?

  • The Sangam age is a period of history in ancient Tamil Nadu which was believed to be from the third century BCE to the third century CE.
  • The name is derived from the renowned Sangam poets of Madurai from that time.

Recent findings

  • In 2019, a TNSDA report dated the unearthed artefacts from Keeladi to a period between sixth century BCE and first century BCE.
  • Some samples sent for carbon dating in the US, dated back to 580 BCE.
  • The findings placed Keeladi artefacts about 300 years earlier than the previously believed third century BCE.

Significance of the findings

  • Older than perceived: Recent finding at Keeladi has pushed the Sangam age to 800 BCE based on these archaeological findings.
  • Literary evidences: Keeladi, along with other Tamil Nadu sites which have over a thousand inscribed potsherds, clearly suggest the long survival of the script.
  • Substantial evidence to Sangam Age: It comes across as an industrious and advanced civilisation and has given evidence of urban life and settlements in TN during the Early Historic Period.
  • Another major civilisation: The unearthed Keeladi artefacts have led academics to describe the site as part of the Vaigai Valley Civilisation. It has all the characteristics of an urban civilisation, with brick structures, luxury items and proof of internal and external trade.
  • Filling in the cultural gaps: This could provide crucial evidence for understanding the missing links of the Iron Age (12th century BCE to sixth century BCE) to the Early Historic Period (sixth century BCE to fourth century BCE) and subsequent cultural developments.

Links with Indus Valley

Ans. A lot of digging and study has to be done to establish the links between these two civilisations.

  • The findings have invited comparisons with the Indus Valley Civilisation while acknowledging the cultural gap of 1,000 years between the two places.
  • Till now, the gap is filled with Iron Age material in south India, which serve as residual links.
  • However, some of the symbols found in pot sherds of Keeladi bear a close resemblance to Indus Valley signs.

What has been unearthed so far?

  • Pottery: Unearthing of heaps of pottery suggest the existence of a pottery making industry, mostly made of locally available raw materials.
  • Inscriptions: Over 120 potsherds containing Tamil Brahmi inscriptions have been found.
  • Jewellery: There also existed a dyeing industry and a glass bead industry. Gold ornaments, copper articles, semi-precious stones, shell bangles, ivory bangles and ivory combs reflect the artistic, culturally rich and prosperous lifestyle of the Keeladi people.
  • Import of semiprecious stones: Agate and carnelian beads suggest import through commercial networks while terracotta and ivory dice, gamesmen and evidence of hopscotch have been unearthed revealing their pastime hobbies.

Recent politicization of the excavation

  • The Keeladi site, since its discovery has been shrouded in controversies with several Dravidian and Left ideologues.
  • They claim that the archaeological finds prove that the Indus Valley Civilisation was a “Dravidian” culture and an independent “secular” Tamil civilisation.
  • The attempt to define the finds in narrow and racial terms is ideologically motivated to one, pump up Tamil exclusivist sentiments, and two, and challenge the view that sees India as one— unity in diversity.

 

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Dickinsonia Fossil found in Bhimbetka turns out to be decayed beehive

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Bhimbetka, Dickensonia

Mains level: NA

bhim

A Dickinsonia fossil found at Bhimbetka, previously believed to be one of the world’s earliest animals, and has been identified as a decayed beehive.

About Bhimbetka

bhim

  • 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.

What is Dickinsonia?

bhim

  • 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.

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.

 

Try this PYQ:

Q. Which one of the following statements is correct?

(a) Ajanta Caves lie in the gorge of Waghora River

(b) Sanchi Stupa lies in the gorge of Chambal River

(c) Pandu-lena Cave Shrines lie in the gorge of Narmada River

(d) Amaravati Stupa lies in the gorge of Godavari River

 

Post your answers here.
1
Please leave a feedback on thisx

 

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Geo-heritage Sites and Geo-relics Bill, 2022

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Geo-heritage conservation in India

The draft Geo-heritage Sites and Geo-relics (Preservation and Maintenance) Bill, 2022, aimed at protecting India’s geological heritage that includes fossils, sedimentary rocks, natural structures, has raised alarm in India’s geo-sciences and palaeontology community.

Geo-heritage Sites and Geo-relics Bill, 2022

Objectives

  • Protect and preserve the geo-heritage sites and geo-relics of national importance in India.
  • Empower the central government to identify, declare, acquire, preserve, and maintain geo-heritage sites and geo-relics.
  • Ensure that the valuable geological specimens and formations are not damaged or destroyed by human activity or natural disasters.
  • Promote research, education, and awareness about the significance and value of geo-heritage sites and geo-relics.
  • Provide a legal framework for the protection and management of geo-heritage sites and geo-relics, to ensure their long-term preservation and maintenance.

Key Features

  • Declaration of geoheritage sites: The central government may declare a site as a geoheritage site of national importance. Geoheritage sites must contain features of geological significance, such as geo-relics or natural rock sculptures. Geo-relics are movable relics such as fossils or meteorites.
  • Protection of geoheritage sites: The draft Bill empowers the central government to acquire, preserve, and maintain geoheritage sites. The Director General of the Geological Survey of India will be given powers for this purpose, such as surveying and excavation. Construction on these sites will be prohibited. However, it may be authorised by the Director General to preserve the site or to repair a structure that predates the declaration of the site.
  • Protection of geo-relics: The central government may declare that a geo-relic cannot be moved from its site, by notification, unless permitted by the Director General. The Director General may direct the acquisition of a geo-relic to protect it.
  • Offences and penalties: Offences under the Bill include (i) destruction or misuse of a geoheritage site, (ii) illegal construction, and (iii) damaging or illegally moving a geo-relic. These offences are punishable with a fine of up to five lakh rupees or imprisonment of up to six months, or both.

Issues raised with this legislation

  • Narrow definition of “geo-relics”: The bill defines “geo-relics” as movable geological specimens, but does not include other important geological features, such as geological formations or landscapes.
  • No academic participation: The bill gives exclusive powers to the Geological Survey of India (GSI) for identifying, declaring, acquiring, preserving, and maintaining geo-heritage sites and geo-relics, without any role for state geological departments or universities.
  • Excessive powers vested to GSI: Experts have criticized the draft bill for vesting exclusive powers in the GSI, without any role for state geological departments or universities. The GSI will be responsible for identifying, declaring, acquiring, preserving, and maintaining geo-heritage sites and geo-relics.
  • Lack of public participation: The bill has been criticized for lacking any legal framework for the involvement of local communities or civil society organizations in the protection and management of geo-heritage sites.
  • Lacks transparency: The bill has been criticized for lacking transparency and public consultation, with some experts suggesting that it should be redrafted to ensure a more participatory and inclusive approach to the protection and management of geo-heritage sites.

Way forward

  • Inclusion of state geological departments and universities: The bill should include the participation of state geological departments and universities in the identification, declaration, acquisition, preservation, and maintenance of geo-heritage sites and geo-relics.
  • Public participation: The bill should be amended to include a legal framework for the participation of local communities and civil society organizations in the protection and management of geo-heritage sites.
  • Accountability and oversight: The bill should be revised to include provisions for greater accountability and oversight of the GSI, to ensure that its powers are not misused or abused.
  • Expanded definition of “geo-relics”: The bill should be amended to include a broader definition of “geo-relics” that encompasses a wider range of important geological features.
  • Wider consultation: The drafting and implementation of the bill should be made more transparent and inclusive, with greater consultation with all stakeholders to ensure that their interests are adequately represented.

 

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

In news: Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: ASI

Mains level: Not Much

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has decided to form a special committee to trace and certify 24 protected monuments that have gone “missing”.

Why in news?

  • PMO has in a report last month said there was an urgent need to “rationalise” the list of monuments of national importance.

Sites in news

  • Barakhamba Cemetery temple ruins, Mirzapur (UP) dating to 1000 AD
  • Kos Minars – one at Faridabad’s Mujesar and
  • Inchla Wali Gumti at Mubarakpur Kotla in the capital

Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) 

  • Founded by Alexander Cunningham, who is also revered as the “Father of Indian Archaeology”
  • He was the protege of James Prinsep.
  • It was Lord Canning who helped pass a statute for ASI’s establishment in 1861.
  • Post-Independence, it is a Statutory body that now works under Ancient monuments and archaeological sites and remains act (AMASR Act), 1958.
  • It works as an attached Office of the Ministry of Culture.
  • ASI has 3678 protected monuments and Archaeology sites of National Importance + 29 cultural under the World Heritage List by UNESCO.

Initiatives by ASI

  1. Museums
  • ASI’s museums are customarily located right next to the sites that their inventories are associated with “so that they may be studied amid their natural surroundings and not lose focus by being transported”.
  • A dedicated Museums Branch maintains a total of 44 museums spread across the country.
  1. Publications by ASI
  • Epigraphia Indica
  • Ancient India
  • Indian Archaeology: A Review (Annually)
  1. Library
  • Central Archaeological Library in the National Archives building in Janpath, New Delhi

 

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Places in news: Jatar Deul Temple

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Jatar Deul

Mains level: NA

jatar deul

Jatar Deul- an ancient terracotta temple in West Bengal’s Sundarbans, which has survived the ravages of time for a millennia, is now facing erosion threat due to increase in air salinity.

Jatar Deul

  • Jatar Deul also called tower temple (rekha-deul), is located in the numerous rivers criss-crossed by stone-free alluvial and bush landscape of the southern Sundarbans settlements in West Bengal.
  • The temple has a curvilinear tower similar to temple architecture of the Nagara order of Odisha temples.
  • However, this type of brick temple we can see at Nebia Khera, Uttar Pradesh.
  • There is neither a cult nor any other sculptural or inscriptional evidence available also the consecration of the temple is unclear.
  • Some believe it was originally for a Buddhist structure; others see it as a building in honor of the Lord Shiva), whose colorful image, is visible at the interior of the Cella (garbhagriha).

How old is it?

  • The ASI website states that Jatar Deul is traditionally connected to an inscription, no longer traceable, by one Raja Jayantachandra, purported to have been issued in 975 AD.
  • The discovery of Jatar Deul dates back to the middle of the nineteenth century, when land surveyors stumbled upon a towering brick structure in the midst of the Sundarban.

 

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Excavations reveal Buddhist monastery complex at Bharatpur of Bengal

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Various mudras of Buddha

Mains level: Ancient Buddhist Architecture

buddh

Recent excavations at Bharatpur in West Bengal’s Paschim Bardhaman district have revealed the presence of a Buddhist monastery.

Bharatpur Buddhist Monastery Complex

  • The Kolkata Circle of the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) started excavating the site in the second week of January and a structural complex of a monastery has now been partially exposed.
  • The site was initially excavated almost fifty years ago between 1972 and 1975 when archeologists from ASI found a Buddhist stupa at the site.

Uniqueness of this site

  • This place hosts a large stupa along with a monastery complex and black and red ware pottery from the Chalcolithic or Copper Age.
  • In other sites across West Bengal, such as Karnasubarna in Murshidabad, Moghalamari in Paschim Medinipur and Jagjivanpur in Malda, archeologists have found only smaller votive stupas.
  • Further excavation is likely to shed more light to understand the earliest occupation of the site and its continuity till the establishment of a Buddhist monastery.

Key findings

  • In the 1970s when the site was excavated along with the stupa, five beautiful seated sculptures of the Buddha in Bhumisparsha Mudra -with all five fingers of the right hand extended to touch the ground — were found.
  • These miniature sculptures, each about 30 cm in height, were most likely used for worship in the monastery.

Back2Basics: Mudras of Buddha

buddh

(1) 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.

(2) 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.

(3) 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.

(4) 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.

(5) 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.

(6) 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.

(7) 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.

(8) 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.

(9) 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.

(10) 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.

 

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

 

Post your answers here.
2
Please leave a feedback on thisx

 

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Assam’s Charaideo Maidams nominated for UNESCO tag

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Charaideo Maidams, Ahom Kingdom

Mains level: Medieval kingdoms of India

maidam

The Centre has decided to nominate Assam’s Charaideo Maidams — the Ahom equivalent of the ancient Egyptian pyramids — for the UNESCO World Heritage Centre this year.

Why in news?

  • The nomination has attained significance at a time when the country is celebrating the 400th birth anniversary of Lachit Barphukan.

Charaideo Maidams

  • The Charaideo maidams represents the late medieval (13th-19th century CE) mound burial tradition of the Tai Ahom community in Assam.
  • The Ahoms preferred to place the departed family members at Charaideo where the first king Sukapha was laid to rest.
  • The historical chronicles inform that wives, attendants, pet animals and huge quantity of valuables were buried with the departed kings.
  • The Charaideo Maidams enshrine the mortal remains of the members of the Ahom royalty, who used to be buried with their paraphernalia.
  • After the 18th century, the Ahom rulers adopted the Hindu method of cremation and began entombing the cremated bones and ashes in a Maidam at Charaideo.
  • Out of 386 Maidams explored so far, 90 royal burials at Charaideo are the best preserved, representative of and the most complete examples of mound burial tradition of the Ahoms.

Architecture details

  • Architecturally it comprises a massive underground vault with one or more chambers having domical superstructure.
  • It is covered by a heap of earthen mound and externally it appears a hemispherical mound.
  • At the top of the mound a small open pavilion chow-chali is provided.
  • An octagonal dwarf wall encloses whole maidam.

 

Ahoms Dynasty

  • The Ahom, also known as the Tai-Ahom, are an ethnic group from Assam and Arunachal Pradesh in India.
  • This ethnic group is made up of interbred descendants of the Tai people, who first came to Assam’s Brahmaputra valley in 1228, and indigenous people who later joined them.
  • Sukaphaa, the Tai group’s leader, and his 9000 supporters founded the Ahom empire (1228–1826 CE), which ruled over part of modern-day Assam’s Brahmaputra Valley until 1826.
  • Charaideo, more than 400 km east of Guwahati, was the first capital of the Ahom dynasty founded by Chao Lung Sukaphaa in 1253.
  • The current Ahom people and culture are a mix of the ancient Tai people and culture, as well as indigenous Tibeto-Burman people and cultures that they assimilated in Assam.

 

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Paigah Tombs of Hyderabad

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Paigah Tomb

Mains level: Not Much

paigah

The necropolis of noblemen dating from the Asaf Jahi era known as Paigah Tombs Complex in Hyderabad is set to be restored with funding by the US Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation.

Who were the Paigahs?

  • Paigah tombs are 200 years old and represent the final resting places of the Paigah Nobles of several generations.
  • During the conquest of the Deccan region by Emperor Aurangzeb, the Paigahs came along with him.
  • The House of Paigah was founded by Shams-ul-Umra I also known as Nawaz Abul Fatah Khan Tegh.
  • Their ties with Nizams were further cemented through matrimonial alliances.
  • They also constructed several palaces in the city and the notable amongst them are the famous Falaknuma Palace, Asman Garh Palace, Khursheed Jah Devdi and Vicar-ul-Umarahi palace.
  • They were believed to be rich than the average Maharajah of the country.

Paigah Tombs

  • Paigah Tombs are the tombs belonging to the nobility of Paigah family, who were fierce loyalists of the Nizams, served as statespeople, philanthropists and generals under and alongside them.
  • They are among the major wonders of Hyderabad State which known for their architectural excellence as shown in their laid mosaic tiles and craftsmanship work.

Its architecture

  • These tombs are made out of lime and mortar with beautiful inlaid marble carvings.
  • It consists of marvelous carvings and motifs in floral designs and inlaid marble tile-works.
  • It depicts Indo-Islamic architecture, a mix of both the Asaf Jahi and the Rajputana styles of architecture.
  • There is fabulous stucco (plaster) work, representing the Mughal, Persian and Deccan style too.

 

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

In news: Ratnagiri Prehistoric Geoglyphs

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Geoglyphs

Mains level: Prehistoric Rock Art

geoglyph

Experts and conservationists have raised concerns over the proposed location for a mega oil refinery in Barsu village of Maharashtra’s Ratnagiri district.

What are geoglyphs?

  • Geoglyphs are a form of prehistoric rock art, created on the surface of laterite plateaus.
  • They are made by removing a part of the rock surface through an incision, picking, carving or abrading.
  • They can be in the form of rock paintings, etchings, cup marks and ring marks.

Ratnagiri’s geoglyphs

  • Clusters of geoglyphs are spread across the Konkan coastline in Maharashtra and Goa, spanning around 900 km.
  • Porous laterite rock, which lends itself to such carving, is found on a large scale across the entire region.
  • Ratnagiri district has more than 1,500 pieces of such art, also called “Katal shilpa,” spread across 70 sites.
  • The figures depicted in the geoglyphs include humans and animals such as deer, elephant, tiger, monkey, wild boar, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, cattle, pig, rabbit, and monkey.
  • Moreover, they also include a high number of reptilian and amphibian creatures such as tortoises and alligators, aquatic animals such as sharks and sting rays, and birds like peacocks.

Why are they significant?

  • Tourism potential: Ratnagiri’s prehistoric sites are among three Indian attractions that may soon become World Heritage Sites. The other two include Jingkieng Jri, the living root bridge in Meghalaya, and Sri Veerabhadra Temple in Andhra Pradesh’s Lepakshi.
  • Evolution of art: The geoglyph clusters also are examples of advanced artistic skills, showing the evolution of techniques of etching and scooping in rock art.

 

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

India’s experience under colonial rule: A study by Dylan Sullivan and Jason Hickel

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Census in colonial rule

Mains level: Impact of colonial rule

colonial

Context

  • A recent study of India’s experience under colonial rule by Dylan Sullivan and Jason Hickel concludes that data from the Census of India reveal that between 1880 and 1920 approximately 100 million Indians died due to British policy in India. Their method is to calculate the excess mortality, being the difference between the actual deaths and the deaths that may be expected.

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What are assumptions made by their study?

  • Mortality rate before colonial rule: Before colonial rule, the mortality rate of India is unlikely to have been very different from that of contemporary England.
  • Deaths due to colonial policies during the period of 1880-1920: The resulting estimates for excess deaths during 1880-1920 are 50 million in the first case and 160 million in the second one, respectively. The authors settle for the midway figure of approximately 100 million for the deaths caused in India due to colonial policy.
  • Figure is greater than deaths from famine in other countries: For perspective, they point out that this figure is greater than the death from famine in “the Soviet Union, Maoist China, North Korea, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, and Mengistu’s Ethiopia”. In their view, this provides a direct assessment of the consequences of the Raj for India.

Study quantifying the impact of colonial rule in India

  • Change in national income as a basis to quantify impact of colonial rule is non-existent: Attempts to quantify the impact of colonial rule in India have mostly relied on the change in national income. But reliable income data for the nineteenth century are almost non-existent. Population figures, though, are available from the time of the first Census of India in 1871.
  • Steady rise in mortality rate: The mortality rate in British India is seen to rise steadily after 1881, recording an increase of close to 20% by 1921. As it is unusual for the mortality rate of a country to rise continuously due to natural causes, this suggests that the living conditions worsened during this period.
  • Mortality rate dipped in last census in British India but famine is not recorded: The mortality rate dipped in 1931, which was the last census conducted in British India, but the last famine recorded in the country was yet to come. It took place in Bengal in 1943, in the last five years of the close to two centuries of British colonial rule.

colonial

How recurring famines are recorded?

  • British arguments for the empire: Arguments include “English forms of land tenure, the English language, banking, the common law, Protestantism, team sports, the limited state, representative assemblies, and the idea of liberty”, have been advanced by the Harvard historian Niall Ferguson.
  • No mention of the famines: There is no mention of the famines which started almost at the onset of rule by the East India Company in Bengal, the de-industrialisation of India in the nineteenth century, the drain of wealth, or the worsening food security as India’s peasants were forced to grow commercial crops for export so that Britain could balance its trade.
  • Population explosion but the life expectancy increased: The belief that British policy in India caused repeated famines is bolstered by the fact that there has not been a single famine since 1947. This is despite a population explosion following a sharp fall in death rates. The decline in the mortality rate surely signals improved living conditions. The Census shows that in the 1950s, life expectancy at birth of Indians increased by more than it did in the previous seventy years.

Census as a double-edged sword

  • Worsening gender inequality in India after 1947: It points to a worsening gender inequality in India. A simple indicator of this would be the ratio of females to males in the population. It is believed that in the absence of factors that lower the life chances of women, including foeticide, this ratio would tend to one. The Census of India shows that we have not attained that level in our recorded history, except in pockets within the country.
  • Trend in gender inequality: While this is disturbing in itself what is more so is that this ratio has steadily declined after 1947. After declining for four decades from 1951 it started inching up in 1991. But in 2011, it was yet lower than what it was in 1951.
  • Life expectancy faster for man than women: So, even though life expectancy increased soon after Independence, in the early years at least it increased faster for men than it did for women.

Conclusion

  • The Census of India not only helps understand the perils of British rule, but also flags the roadblocks lying ahead. As India chants Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam at the G-20, implying that the nations of the world are a family, it behooves us to ensure that all the persons in our own family enjoy the same freedoms.

Mains Question

Q. According to the census of the time discuss the impact of colonial rule in India. The Census of India not only helps understand the perils of British rule, but also flags the roadblocks lying ahead. Discuss.

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

India’s experience under colonial rule: A study by Dylan Sullivan and Jason Hickel

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Census in colonial rule

Mains level: Impact of colonial rule

Context

  • A recent study of India’s experience under colonial rule by Dylan Sullivan and Jason Hickel concludes that data from the Census of India reveal that between 1880 and 1920 approximately 100 million Indians died due to British policy in India. Their method is to calculate the excess mortality, being the difference between the actual deaths and the deaths that may be expected.

Click and get your FREE Copy of CURRENT AFFAIRS Micro Notes

What are assumptions made by their study?

  • Mortality rate before colonial rule: Before colonial rule, the mortality rate of India is unlikely to have been very different from that of contemporary England.
  • Deaths due to colonial policies during the period of 1880-1920: The resulting estimates for excess deaths during 1880-1920 are 50 million in the first case and 160 million in the second one, respectively. The authors settle for the midway figure of approximately 100 million for the deaths caused in India due to colonial policy.
  • Figure is greater than deaths from famine in other countries: For perspective, they point out that this figure is greater than the death from famine in “the Soviet Union, Maoist China, North Korea, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, and Mengistu’s Ethiopia”. In their view, this provides a direct assessment of the consequences of the Raj for India.

Study quantifying the impact of colonial rule in India

  • Change in national income as a basis to quantify impact of colonial rule is non-existent: Attempts to quantify the impact of colonial rule in India have mostly relied on the change in national income. But reliable income data for the nineteenth century are almost non-existent. Population figures, though, are available from the time of the first Census of India in 1871.
  • Steady rise in mortality rate: The mortality rate in British India is seen to rise steadily after 1881, recording an increase of close to 20% by 1921. As it is unusual for the mortality rate of a country to rise continuously due to natural causes, this suggests that the living conditions worsened during this period.
  • Mortality rate dipped in last census in British India but famine is not recorded: The mortality rate dipped in 1931, which was the last census conducted in British India, but the last famine recorded in the country was yet to come. It took place in Bengal in 1943, in the last five years of the close to two centuries of British colonial rule.

How recurring famines are recorded?

  • British arguments for the empire: Arguments include “English forms of land tenure, the English language, banking, the common law, Protestantism, team sports, the limited state, representative assemblies, and the idea of liberty”, have been advanced by the Harvard historian Niall Ferguson.
  • No mention of the famines: There is no mention of the famines which started almost at the onset of rule by the East India Company in Bengal, the de-industrialisation of India in the nineteenth century, the drain of wealth, or the worsening food security as India’s peasants were forced to grow commercial crops for export so that Britain could balance its trade.
  • Population explosion but the life expectancy increased: The belief that British policy in India caused repeated famines is bolstered by the fact that there has not been a single famine since 1947. This is despite a population explosion following a sharp fall in death rates. The decline in the mortality rate surely signals improved living conditions. The Census shows that in the 1950s, life expectancy at birth of Indians increased by more than it did in the previous seventy years.

Census as a double-edged sword

  • Worsening gender inequality in India after 1947: It points to a worsening gender inequality in India. A simple indicator of this would be the ratio of females to males in the population. It is believed that in the absence of factors that lower the life chances of women, including foeticide, this ratio would tend to one. The Census of India shows that we have not attained that level in our recorded history, except in pockets within the country.
  • Trend in gender inequality: While this is disturbing in itself what is more so is that this ratio has steadily declined after 1947. After declining for four decades from 1951 it started inching up in 1991. But in 2011, it was yet lower than what it was in 1951.
  • Life expectancy faster for man than women: So, even though life expectancy increased soon after Independence, in the early years at least it increased faster for men than it did for women.

Conclusion

  • The Census of India not only helps understand the perils of British rule, but also flags the roadblocks lying ahead. As India chants Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam at the G-20, implying that the nations of the world are a family, it behooves us to ensure that all the persons in our own family enjoy the same freedoms.

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Who was Srimanta Sankardeva?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Sankaradeva

Mains level: Bhakti Movement

sankardeva

‘Gurujana’ a musical tribute to 15th–16th century Assamese polymath Srimanta Sankardeva was recently released by the PIB.

Srimanta Sankardeva (1449–1568)

  • Sankardeva was a 15th–16th century Assamese polymath; a saint-scholar, poet, playwright, dancer, actor, musician, artist social-religious reformer and a figure of importance.
  • He is widely credited with building on past cultural relics and devising-
  1. New forms of music (Borgeet)
  2. Theatrical performance (Ankia Naat, Bhaona),
  3. Dance (Sattriya)
  4. Literary language (Brajavali)

Literary works

  • He has left extensive literary trans-created scriptures (Bhagavat of Sankardev), poetry and theological works written in Sanskrit, Assamese and Brajavali.

Political influence

  • The Bhagavatic religious movement he started, Ekasarana Dharma and also called the Neo-Vaishnavite movement, influenced two medieval kingdoms – Koch and the Ahom kingdom.
  • His influence spread even to some kingdoms as the Matak Kingdom founded by Bharat Singha, and consolidated by Sarbananda Singha in the latter 18th century endorsed his teachings.
  • The assembly of devotees he initiated evolved over time into monastic centers called Sattras, which continue to be important socio-religious institutions in Assam and to a lesser extent in North Bengal even today.

 

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Ram Setu and The Sethusamudram Project (SSCP)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project (SSCP)

Mains level: Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project (SSCP) and its impact on the marine ecosystem

Ram Setu

Context

  • On November 10, the Supreme Court gave the Centre four weeks’ time to file a response clarifying its stand on a plea seeking national heritage status for the ‘Ram Setu’.

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.

Interesting Research on “Ram Setu”

  • Conclusion by the researchers that Ram Setu is not man-made:
  • In 2003, space-based investigations, using satellite remote sensing imagery, by researchers at the Space Applications Centre in Ahmedabad concluded that Ram Setu is not man-made, but comprises 103 small patch reefs lying in a linear pattern with reef crest, sand cays and intermittent deep channels.
  • Cays, also known as keys, refer to low-elevation islands situated on surfaces made of coral reef.
  • Reasoning behind the conclusion:
  • It is reasonable to assume that Ram Setu is a linear ridge made of coral reefs and forms a shallow part of the ocean that is being constantly impacted by sedimentation processes.
  • Like the Great Barrier Reef, the Ram Setu is also a continuous stretch of limestone shoals that runs from Pamban Island near Rameswaram to the Mannar Island on the northern coast of Sri Lanka.
  • During glaciation period: During a global glaciation period that began around 2.6 million years ago and ended 11,700 years ago, the Indian coast, including parts of the Sethusamudram, may have been raised above water.
  • Post glaciation: The post-glaciation period witnessed a steady rise in sea levels around the world and coral polyps could once again have grown higher on the newly submerged platforms. And in time, the platforms may have been used by migrants to cross oceans.
  • Ramayana belief: The Ramayana refers to a putative land bridge in this region; believers hold it as the structure that Lord Rama and his army built to reach Lanka. This ridge may have been used in the distant past as a migratory route.

Ram Setu

Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project (SSCP)

  • Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project (SSCP) can be traced back to the British, who Proposed as channel to link the Palk Strait with the Gulf of Mannar.
  • It was only in 2005 that the project was inaugurated.
  • Separating the shallow sea consisting of the Gulf of Mannar in the south and Palk Bay in the north is a somewhat linear coral ridge called Adam’s Bridge or Ram Setu.
  • This runs between Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu and Thalaimannar in Sri Lanka.
  • The SSCP, if completed, is expected to considerably reduce the navigation time between the east and west coasts of India.

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Memory shot

  • “The Sethusamudram project envisages dredging of a channel across the Palk Strait between India and Sri Lanka to allow ships to sail between the east and west coasts of India, instead of circumventing the island nation.”

What are the Concerns raised about the project?

  • High energy waves may bring sediments: Computer models suggest that the central, eastern and north-eastern parts of the Palk Bay may be impacted by waves of higher energy. This means that these areas also receive more sediment, rendering them more turbid.
  • Alignment is not easy: The models also indicate that waves enter the Bay from its north and south, corresponding to how the channel is aligned.
  • High frequency of cyclonic storms: The area is also vulnerable to cyclonic storms. A cyclone in 1964 was so powerful that it wiped out the town of Dhanushkodi. Such storms can cause the local sedimentary dynamics to go haywire.
  • Dumping of dredged material may harm marine ecosystem: Finding safe places for dumping dredged material without harming terrestrial or marine ecosystems is therefore a big challenge.
  • Air and water pollution by the ships: Emissions from ships traversing the narrow channel will pollute the air and water. And if a rogue ship carrying oil or coal is grounded or strays from its course within the canal, it could cause an ecological disaster.
  • Religious belief of Significant Ram Setu: While environmental groups have been protesting against the project for the huge environmental cost it would entail, religious groups have been opposing it as they believe that the structure, which is mentioned in the Ramayana, is of religious significance.

Ram Setu

What is the need of protection?

  • Marine biosphere reserves: The coral reef platforms between Thoothukudi and Rameswaram in the Gulf of Mannar were notified as a marine biosphere reserve in 1989.
  • Biodiversity rich area:
  • More than 36,000 species of flora and fauna reportedly live there, flanked by mangroves and sandy shores which are considered conducive for turtles to nest.
  • This is also a breeding ground for fish, lobsters, shrimps and crabs.
  • Of the 600 recorded varieties of fish in the region, 70 are said to be commercially important.
  • Area is already under stress:
  • This area is already threatened by discharge from thermal plants, brine run-off from salt pans, and illegal mining of corals.
  • The SSCP, if it becomes a reality, will be the final blow to this sensitive environment and to the livelihoods of the people there.

Perspective: Area is not only a religious belief but also a “Geo heritage site”.

  • While considering this issue from a believer’s point of view, it is also important to consider this feature from a ‘geoheritage’ perspective.
  • The geoheritage paradigm is used in nature conservation to preserve the natural diversity of significant geological features.
  • The value of abiotic factors like geology, soils and landforms is also recognised for their roles in supporting habitats for biodiversity.
  • Geodiversity here consists of varied landforms and features representative of dynamical natural processes, is under threat from human activities and needs protection.

Ram Setu

Do you Know 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.

Conclusion

  • The Ram Setu carries the unique geological imprints of an eventful past. Therefore, it needs to be preserved not just as a national heritage monument, but also as a Geoheritage structure as defined from a scientific perspective.

Mains Question

Q. What is Sethusamudram Ship channel project? Discuss the Concerns raised over the stability of the project.

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Lothal: ‘Oldest Dock in the World’, to get heritage complex

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Lothal, Indus Valley Civilization

Mains level: Heritage tourism

lothal

Prime Minister has reviewed the construction of the National Maritime Heritage Complex (NMHC) site at Gujarat’s Lothal via video conferencing.

Where is Lothal?

  • Lothal was one of the southernmost sites of the Indus Valley civilization, located in the Bhal region of what is now the state of Gujarat.
  • The port city is believed to have been built in 2,200 BC. Lothal was a thriving trade centre in ancient times, with its trade of beads, gems and ornaments reaching West Asia and Africa.
  • The meaning of Lothal (a combination of Loth and (s) thal) in Gujarati is “the mound of the dead”.
  • Incidentally, the name of the city of Mohenjo-daro (also part of the Indus Valley Civilisation, now in Pakistan) means the same in Sindhi.
  • In the region, it can be compared with other Indus port towns of Balakot (Pakistan), Khirasa (in Gujarat’s Kutch) and Kuntasi (in Rajkot).

When was it discovered?

  • Indian archaeologists started the search for cities of the Harappan Civilisation post-1947 in Gujarat’s Saurashtra.
  • Archaeologist SR Rao led the team which discovered a number of Harappan sites at the time, including the port city of Lothal.
  • Excavation work was carried out in Lothal between February 1955 and May 1960.
  • Adjacent to the excavated areas stands the archaeological site museum, where some of the most prominent collections of Indus-era antiquities in India are displayed.

How was it identified as port city?

  • The National Institute of Oceanography in Goa discovered marine microfossils and salt, gypsum crystals at the site, indicating that sea water once filled the structure and it was definitely a dockyard.
  • It had the world’s earliest known dock, connecting the city to an ancient course of the Sabarmati river.
  • A metropolis with an upper and a lower town had in on its northern side a basin with vertical wall, inlet and outlet channels which has been identified as a tidal dockyard.
  • Satellite images show that the river channel, now dried, would have brought in considerable volume of water during high tide, which would have filled the basin and facilitated sailing of boats upstream.

What heritage value does it hold?

  • Lothal was nominated in April 2014 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its application is pending on the tentative list of UNESCO.
  • It is the only port-town of the Indus Valley Civilisation.
  • Its heritage value is comparable to following ancient port-towns around the world-
  1. Xel Ha (Peru)
  2. Ostia (Port of Rome)
  3. Carthage (Port of Tunis) in Italy
  4. Hepu in China,
  5. Canopus in Egypt
  6. Gabel (Byblos of the Phoenicians),
  7. Jaffa in Israel,
  8. Ur in Mesopotamia
  9. Hoi An in Vietnam

Building up of Heritage Complex

  • The project began in March 2022, and is being developed at a cost of Rs 3,500 crore.
  • It will have several innovative features such as Lothal mini-recreation, which will recreate Harappan architecture and lifestyle through immersive technology.
  • It has four theme parks – Memorial theme park, Maritime and Navy theme park, Climate theme park, and Adventure and Amusement theme park.

 

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

What is Carbon Dating?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Carbon Dating

Mains level: Not Much

carbon dating

A Varanasi district court has rejected the plea to conduct carbon-dating of the disputed structure known to have been found inside the premises of the Gyanvapi mosque.

What is Carbon Dating?

  • Carbon dating, also called radiocarbon dating is method of age determination that depends upon the decay to nitrogen of radiocarbon (Carbon-14).
  • This method was developed by the American physicist Willard F. Libby about 1946.
  • Carbon-14 is continually formed in nature by the interaction of neutrons with nitrogen-14 in the Earth’s atmosphere.
  • The neutrons required for this reaction are produced by cosmic rays interacting with the atmosphere.

How it works?

  • Radiocarbon present in molecules of atmospheric carbon dioxide enters the biological carbon cycle: it is absorbed from the air by green plants and then passed on to animals through the food chain.
  • Radiocarbon decays slowly in a living organism, and the amount lost is continually replenished as long as the organism takes in air or food.
  • Once the organism dies, however, it ceases to absorb carbon-14, so that the amount of the radiocarbon in its tissues steadily decreases.

The half-life concept

  • Carbon-14 has a half-life of 5,730 ± 40 years—i.e., half the amount of the radioisotope present at any given time will undergo spontaneous disintegration during the succeeding 5,730 years.
  • Because carbon-14 decays at this constant rate, an estimate of the date at which an organism died can be made by measuring the amount of its residual radiocarbon.

Its uses

  • It has proved to be a versatile technique of dating fossils and archaeological specimens from 500 to 50,000 years old.
  • The method is widely used by geologists, anthropologists, archaeologists, and investigators in related fields.

 

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Ponniyin Selvan and the Cholas

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Ponniyin Selvan

Mains level: Not Much

In all the buzz around the Tamil film Ponniyin Selvan: 1 or PS1, a fictional period drama, a point of focus has been the Chola dynasty that the film is based on.

Why in news?

  • A notable actor has spoke about the progressiveness of the Chola era.
  • He mentioned the architectural marvels and temples, the social setup of the time, and how cities were named after women.

Behind the name- PS1

  • The fictional account of the Chola kingdom appeared in a weekly journal in the early 1950s and garnered popularity.
  • These were later compiled into a novel called ‘Ponniyin Selvan’, which became the inspiration for the movie, whose second part is due for release in 2023.

Who were the Cholas?

  • The Chola kingdom stretched across present-day Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and parts of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka around 9th to 12th century AD.
  • The dynasty was founded by the king Vijaylaya, described as a “feudatory” of the Pallavas.
  • Despite being a relatively minor player in the region among giants, Vijaylaya laid the foundation for a dynasty that would rule a major part of southern India.

Might of the Cholas

(1) Defense

  • One of the biggest achievements of the Chola dynasty was its naval power, allowing them to go as far as Malaysia and the Sumatra islands of Indonesia in their conquests.
  • The domination was such that the Bay of Bengal was converted into a “Chola lake” for some time.

(2) Economy

  • While the extent of this domination is disputed, the Cholas had strong ties with merchant groups and this allowed them to undertake impressive naval expeditions.
  • In general, even merchant guilds, which had close ties to the court, had to hire their own guards because roads could be dangerous.

(3) Culture

  • Another feature is how the practice of building grand temples, common to the dynasties of the region around this time, was ramped up in an unprecedented way by the Cholas, according to Kanisetti.
  • The grand Brihadeeswara temple of Thanjavur, built by the Cholas, was the largest building in India in that period.
  • Additionally, artworks and sculptures were commissioned by Chola kings and queens, including the famous bronze Nataraja idols.

Women under the Cholas

  • The role of women in the royal family is being brought to focus given their impact on public life.
  • But that is not to suggest that ordinary women wielded equal power as men.
  • The royal women’s proximity to male power was valued, rather than women in general.

Local annexations

  • When the Chola King Rajadhiraja came to power in 1044, he was able to “subdue” Pandyan and Kerala kings, and presumably to celebrate these victories performed the Ashvamedha sacrifice.
  • The Chola rulers sacked and plundered Chalukyan cities including Kalyani and massacred the people, including Brahmans and children.
  • They destroyed Anuradhapura, the ancient capital of the rulers of Sri Lanka.

 

 

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Pakistan floods may take away Mohenjo Daro’s World Heritage Tag

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Mohenjo Daro

Mains level: Not Much

Heavy floods in Pakistan has pushed the archeological site of Mohenjo Daro – near the bank of the Indus river – to the “brink of extinction”.

What is the news?

  • Pakistan’s Department of Archaeology has said that Mohenjo Daro might be removed from the world heritage list, if urgent attention towards its conservation and restoration is not given.

About Mohenjo Daro

  • Mohenjo Daro, a group of mounds and ruins, is a 5000-year-old archaeological site located about 80-km off the city of Sukkur.
  • It comprises the remnants of one of two main centres of the ancient Indus Valley Civilisation, the other one being Harappa, located 640 km to the northwest, in Punjab province.
  • Mohenjo Daro, which means ‘mound of the dead’, was one of the oldest cities of the world.
  • Known to be a model planned city of the ancient civilisation, the houses here had bathrooms, toilets and drainage system.
  • The sheer size of the city, and its provision of public buildings and facilities, suggests a high level of social organization.
  • Though in ruins, the walls and brick pavements in the streets are still in a preserved condition.

How did it came to prominance

  • The ruins of the city remained undocumented for around 3,700 years, until 1920, when archaeologist RD Banerji visited the site.
  • Its excavation started in 1921 and continued in phases till 1964-65.
  • The site went to Pakistan during Partition.

Other Indus Valley sites

  • The Indus Valley Civilisation spanned much of what is now Pakistan and the northern states of India (Gujarat, Haryana and Rajasthan), even extending towards the Iranian border.
  • Its major urban centres included Harappa and Mohenjo Daro in Pakistan, and Lothal, Kalibangan, Dholavira and Rakhigarhi in India.
  • Mohenjo Daro is considered the most advanced city of its time, with sophisticated civil engineering and urban planning.
  • When the Indus Valley Civilisation went into sudden decline around 19th century BC, Mohenjo Daro was abandoned.

What next for the site

  • According to media reports, many streets and sewerage drains of the historical ruins have been badly damaged due to the floods.
  • However, the work of removing the sediments deposited due the flooding is still underway.
  • But if this kind of flooding happens again, the heritage site may once again get buried under the ground, archaeologists say.
  • It is expected that UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres will visit the site during his visit to Pakistan on September 11.
  • The visit might provide some clarity on if the site has lost some of its attributes that are necessary for it to retain its prestigious world heritage tag.

Losing world heritage tag

  • There are around 1,100 UNESCO listed sites across its 167 member countries.
  • Last year, the World Heritage Committee decided to delete the property ‘Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City’ (UK) from the World Heritage List.
  • This was due to the irreversible loss of attributes conveying the outstanding universal value of the property.
  • Liverpool was added to the World Heritage List in 2004 in recognition of its role as one of the world’s major trading centres in the 18th and 19th centuries – and its pioneering dock technology, transport systems and port management.
  • Before that, the first venue to be delisted by the UNESCO panel was the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary in Oman, in 2007, after concerns over poaching and habitat degradation.
  • Another site to be removed from the World Heritage list in 2009 was Elbe Valley in Dresden, Germany, after the construction of the Waldschloesschen road bridge across the Elbe River.

Back2Basics: UNESCO World Heritage Sites

  • A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area, selected by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for having cultural, historical, scientific or other forms of significance, which is legally protected by international treaties.
  • The sites are judged to be important for the collective and preservative interests of humanity.
  • To be selected, a WHS must be an already-classified landmark, unique in some respect as a geographically and historically identifiable place having special cultural or physical significance (such as an ancient ruin or historical structure, building, city, complex, desert, forest, island, lake, monument, mountain, or wilderness area).
  • It may signify a remarkable accomplishment of humanity, and serve as evidence of our intellectual history on the planet.
  • The sites are intended for practical conservation for posterity, which otherwise would be subject to risk from human or animal trespassing, unmonitored/uncontrolled/unrestricted access, or threat from local administrative negligence.
  • The list is maintained by the international World Heritage Program administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of 21 “states parties” that are elected by their General Assembly.

UNESCO World Heritage Committee

  • The World Heritage Committee selects the sites to be listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the World Heritage List and the List of World Heritage in Danger.
  • It monitors the state of conservation of the World Heritage properties, defines the use of the World Heritage Fund and allocates financial assistance upon requests from States Parties.
  • It is composed of 21 states parties that are elected by the General Assembly of States Parties for a four-year term.
  • India is NOT a member of this Committee.

 

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Heritage conservation

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: ASI

Mains level: heritage conservation

heritage Context

  • Despite all the public talk of the importance of conserving our national heritage, the budget of the ASI, the primary institutional guardian of monuments, in 2021-22 has been reduced by more than Rs 200 cr.

How do you define heritage?

  • Heritage is the full range of our inherited traditions, monuments, objects, and culture. Most important, it is the range of contemporary activities, meanings, and behaviours that we draw from them.

Threats to Indian Heritage

  • Theft: The incidents of thefts have been observed usually from unprotected monuments, ancient temples. The thefts cases have also been seen in the protected monuments and museums as well. It is due to negligence of security guards in museums, monuments etc.
  • Smuggling: illicit traffic and smuggling in antiquities. Illicit traffic is motivated often by profit and sometimes by the demand for luxuries.
  • Tourism: Unregulated tourism, tourist activities run by touts, private agents have affected the art heritage places. The Culture Ministry of India has reported that up to 24 Indian monuments have been declared “untraceable” or “missing” by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
  • Issues with security of museums: Most of the museums are poorly guarded due to shortage of manpower leading to theft of artifacts, fire accidents etc.
  • Duplication: Fakes paintings and art forms leading to threat to livelihoods of artists.
  • Poor Maintenance: The state of the wall paintings in Ajanta caves is continuously getting worse, which can be attributed to humidity as well as to a lack of care.
  • Encroachment on monuments: Another miss from the ministry has been encroachments of monuments. Over 278 centrally protected monuments have been encroached upon or have illegal occupants, as per government data.

heritage Why should we protect our heritage?

  • Evolution of human consciousness is a continuous process: History here serves as a laboratory and the past serves as a demarcation to understand the regional laws and social structures. This understanding helps in our progress towards an ideal society.
  • Pride of country: The art heritage is the identity and pride of our country. It is duty of every citizen to protect, preserve and perpetuate the cultural richness.
  • Tourism potential: for art monuments and museums is very high. Tourism generates revenue for the state as well as private artists due to the money-multiplier quality.
  • Infrastructure development: takes place in and around the areas. Eg. Hampi despite being a small town has excellent infrastructure.
  • Jobs: It creates jobs for a lot of people from art industry and tourism industry as well
  • Sense of belonging: It creates a feeling of oneness and a sense of attachment by enhancing a sense of belonging to a culture or a region.
  • Strengthen conviction: Every historical site has an important story to tell and these stories have inspired many people to strengthen their convictions and commitment to fight injustice and oppression.
  • Soft power: Art and culture is also a part of soft power in world politics.

About Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)

  • The ASI is an attached office of the Ministry of Culture.
  • It was founded in 1861 by Alexander Cunningham who also became its first Director-General.
  • Under the provisions of the AMASR Act of 1958, the ASI administers more than 3650 ancient monuments, archaeological sites and remains of national importance.
  • These can include everything from temples, mosques, churches, tombs, and cemeteries to palaces, forts, step-wells, and rock-cut caves.

Initiatives by ASI

  • Museums: ASI’s museums are customarily located right next to the sites that their inventories are associated with “so that they may be studied amid their natural surroundings and not lose focus by being transported”. A dedicated Museums Branch maintains a total of 44 museums spread across the country.
  • Publications by ASI: Epigraphia Indica, Ancient India, Indian Archaeology: A Review (Annually).
  • Library: Central Archaeological Library in the National Archives building in Janpath, New Delhi.

Issues and Challenges ahead of ASI

  • To restore or not: Issue is that technically speaking- ruins are seldom “restored” in original state. This is because in absence of documentation- archaeologists are left to conjecture what buildings may have looked like when they were originally built.
  • Personnel Management Issues: Higher Authorities of ASI are traditionally from IAS Cadre. In-house specialist must be promoted for better coordination b/w technical and managerial aspects of restoration
  • Issues explored in CAG Report: 92 monuments are untraceable with no database on artifacts. Poor Documentation of Protected Monuments/Artifacts. Paucity of funds (Eg- Red fort gardens lie unkempt).

Conclusion

  • It is the duty of every citizen to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture. Preservation and conservation of India’s rich cultural heritage and promotion of all forms of art and culture, both tangible and intangible, is essential and assumes a lot of importance.

Mains question

Q. Safeguarding the Indian heritage is the need of the moment. What are the challenges faced in safeguarding them? What steps would you suggest to protect them?

 

 

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Manusmriti: the controversial ancient Sanskrit text

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Manusmriti

Mains level: Not Much

The Vice Chancellor of a renowned university recently criticized the Manusmriti, the ancient Sanskrit text, over its gender bias.

What is the news?

  • The VC said that the Manusmriti has categorised all women as shudras, which is extraordinarily regressive.

What is Manusmriti?

  • The Mānavadharmaśāstra, also known as Manusmriti or the Laws of Manu, is a Sanskrit text belonging to the Dharmaśāstra literary tradition of Hinduism.
  • Composed sometime between the 2nd century BCE and 3rd century CE, the Manusmriti is written in sloka verses, containing two non-rhyming lines of 16 syllabus each.
  • The text is attributed to the mythical figure of Manu, considered to be ancestor of the human race in Hinduism.
  • There has been considerable debate between scholars on the authorship of the text.
  • Many have argued that it was compiled by many Brahmin scholars over a period of time.
  • However, Indologist Patrick Olivelle argues that Manusmṛiti’s “unique and symmetrical structure,” means that it was composed by a “single gifted individual,” or by a “strong chairman of a committee” with the aid of others.

What is the text about?

(A) Social aspects

  • The Manusmriti is encyclopaedic in scope, covering subjects such as the social obligations and duties of the various castes and of individuals in different stages of life.
  • It seeks to govern the suitable social and sexual relations of men and women of different castes, on taxes, the rules for kingship, on maintaining marital harmony and the procedures for settling everyday disputes.
  • At its core, the Manusmriti discusses life in the world, how it is lived in reality, as well as how it ought to be.

(B) Political aspects

  • They argue that the text is about dharma, which means duty, religion, law and practice.
  • It also discusses aspects of the Arthashashtra, such as issues relating to statecraft and legal procedures.
  • The aim of the text is to present a blueprint for a properly ordered society under the sovereignty of the king and the guidance of Brahmins.
  • It was meant to be read by the priestly caste and Olivelle argues that it would likely have been part of the curriculum for young Brahmin scholars at colleges.

What is its significance?

  • By the early centuries of the Common Era, Manu had become, and remained, the standard source of authority in the orthodox tradition for that centrepiece of Hinduism, varṇāśrama-dharma (social and religious duties tied to class and stage of life)”.
  • Indologists argue that it was a very significant text for Brahmin scholars — it attracted 9 commentaries by other writers of the tradition, and was cited by other ancient Indian texts far more frequently than other dharmaśāstra.

How did colonists consider this text?

  • European Orientalists considered the Manusmṛiti to be of great historical and religious significance as well. It was the first Sanskrit text to be translated into a European language, by the British philologist Sir William Jones in 1794.
  • Subsequently, it was translated into French, German, Portuguese and Russian, before being included in Max Muller’s edited volume, Sacred Books of the East in 1886.
  • For colonial officials in British India, the translation of the book served a practical purpose.
  • In 1772, Governor-General Warren Hastings decided to implement laws of Hindus and Muslims that they believed to be “continued, unchanged from remotest antiquity.
  • For Hindus, the dharmasastras were to play a crucial role, as they were seen by the British as ‘laws,’ whether or not it was even used that way in India.

Why is it controversial?

  • The ancient text has 4 major divisions: 1) Creation of the world. 2) Sources of dharma. 3) The dharma of the four social classes. 4) Law of karma, rebirth, and final liberation.
  • The third section is the longest and most important section.
  • The text is deeply concerned with maintaining the hierarchy of the four-fold varna system and the rules that each caste has to follow.
  • Then, the Brahmin is assumed to be the perfect representative of the human race.
  • While Shudras, who are relegated to the bottom of the order, are given the sole duty of serving the ‘upper’ castes.
  • Some verses also contain highly prejudicial sentiments against women on the basis of their birth.
  • There are many verses in the text that are considered highly controversial.

Dr. Ambedkar and Manusmriti

  • On December 25, 1927, Dr B R Ambedkar had famously burned the Manusmṛiti, which he saw as a source of gender and caste oppression.
  • However, he widely acknowledged that Manusmriti is NOT a religious decree but a social doctrine, manipulated since centuries to normalize oppression of the population.

 

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Sannati and Kanaganahalli Buddhist Sites

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Ashokan edicts, Stupa Architecture

Mains level: NA

Left almost unattended to for 20 years after excavation, the ancient Buddhist site on the bank of Bhima river near Kanaganahalli (forming part of Sannati site) in Kalaburagi district, has finally got some attention.

About Sannati

  • Sannati is a small village on the banks of the River Bhima in Chittapur Taluka of Kalaburagi (Gulbarga).
  • It came into prominence after the collapse of the roof of the Kali temple in Chandralamba temple complex in 1986.
  • The collapse revealed the historically valuable Ashokan edicts written in Prakrit language and Brahmi script at the foundations of the temple, attracting historians from across India.
  • While the Stupa is believed to be one of the largest of its time.
  • The stone-portrait is considered to be the only surviving image of the Mauryan Emperor which had the inscriptionRaya Asoko’ in Brahmi on it.

Significance of Sannati

  • Further revelations led to the discovery of the magnificent Maha Stupa, which had been referred to as Adholoka Maha-Chaitya (The Great Stupa of the Netherworlds) in the inscriptions.
  • More importantly, a sculpture-portrait of Ashoka seated on his throne with his queens was also discovered.
  • Historians believe that the Sannati Ranamandal (war zone) was a fortified area spread over 210 acres, of which only a couple of acres have been excavated so far.

Try this PYQ:

In which of the following relief sculpture inscriptions is ‘Ranyo Ashokan’ (King Ashoka) mentioned along with the stone portrait of Ashoka?

(a) Kanganahalli

(b) Sanchi

(c) Shahbazgarhi

(d) Sohgaura

 

Post your answers here.
6
Please leave a feedback on thisx

 

 

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

ASI Act to be made more flexible

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), AMSAR Act

Mains level: Not Much

Union Culture Minister said the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) was working on an amendment to make the law that provides for the preservation of monuments and archaeological sites “more flexible and people-friendly”.

What is the news?

  • The ASI is working to amend Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act 1958.
  • It particularly seeks to change the current 100-metre prohibited area around protected monuments to site-specific limits.

What is the AMASR Act?

  • The AMASR Act provides for the preservation of ancient and historical monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance.
  • It also provides for the regulation of archaeological excavations and for the protection of sculptures, carvings and other like objects.
  • The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) functions under the provisions of this act.
  • The rules stipulate that area in the vicinity of the monument, within 100 metres is prohibited area.
  • The area within 200 meters of the monument is regulated category. Any repair or modifications of buildings in this area requires prior permission.

About Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)

  • The ASI is an attached office of the Ministry of Culture.
  • It was founded in 1861 by Alexander Cunningham who also became its first Director-General.
  • Under the provisions of the AMASR Act of 1958, the ASI administers more than 3650 ancient monuments, archaeological sites and remains of national importance.
  • These can include everything from temples, mosques, churches, tombs, and cemeteries to palaces, forts, step-wells, and rock-cut caves.
  • The Survey also maintains ancient mounds and other similar sites which represent the remains of ancient habitation.
  • The ASI is headed by a Director-General who is assisted by an Additional Director General, two Joint Directors General, and 17 Directors.

 

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Ancient sculptures recovered from Australia, US

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Read the attached story

Mains level: NA

Ten antiquities (sculptures) retrieved from Australia and the United States were handed over to the Government of Tamil Nadu.

Some of the returned antiquities, and how they had gone missing:

(1) Dvarapala:

  • Retrieved in 2020 from Australia, this stone sculpture belongs to the Vijayanagar dynasty dating to the 15th-16th century.
  • He is holding a gada in one hand and has another leg raised up to the level of his knee.
  • The sculpture was burgled from Moondreeswaramudayar Temple, Tiruneveli in1994.

(2) Nataraja:

  • Retrieved in 2021 from the US, this image of Nataraja, a depiction of Shiva, in his divine cosmic dance form, is in tribhanga posture, standing on the lotus pedestal.
  • It is dateable to the 11th-12th century. Possibly, ananda tandava or the Dance of Bliss is portrayed here.
  • The sculpture was burgled from the strong room of Punnainallur Arulmigu Mariyamman Temple, Thanjavur, in 2018.

(3) Kankalamurti:

  • Retrieved in 2021 from the US, Kankalamurti is depicted as a fearsome aspect of Lord Shiva and Bhairava.
  • The sculpture is four-armed, holding ayudhas such as damaru and trishula in the upper hands and a bowl and a trefoil shaped object, as a treat for the playful fawn, in the lower right hand.
  • The idol is dateable to the 12th-13th century, and was stolen from Narasinganadhar Swamy Temple, Tirunelveli in 1985.

(4) Nandikeshvara:

  • Retrieved in 2021 from the US, this bronze image of Nandikeshvara is dateable to the 13th century.
  • It is shown standing in tribhanga posture with folded arms, holding an axe and a fawn in the upper arms, with his forearms in namaskara mudra.
  • This sculpture was stolen from Narasinganadhar Swamy Temple, Tirunelveli, in 1985.

(5) Four-armed Vishnu:

  • Retrieved in 2021 from the US, dateable to the 11th century, and belonging to the later Chola period.
  • The sculpture has Lord Vishnu standing on a padma pedestal holding attributes such as shankha and chakra in two hands; while the lower right hand is in abhaya mudra.
  • It was stolen from Arulmigu Varadharaja Perumal Temple, Ariyalur, in 2008.

(6) Goddess Parvati:

  • Retrieved in 2021 from the US, the image depicts a Chola-period sculpture dateable to the 11th century.
  • She is shown holding a lotus in the left hand whereas the right is hanging down near her kati.
  • This sculpture was also stolen from Arulmigu Varadharaja Perumal Temple, Ariyalur in 2008.

(7) Standing child Sambandar:

  • Retrieved in 2022 from Australia. Sambandar, the popular 7th-century child saint, is one of the Muvar, the three principal saints of South India.
  • The sculpture is dateable to the 11th century.
  • The legend goes that after receiving a bowl of milk from Goddess Uma, the infant Sambandar devoted his life to composing hymns in praise of Lord Shiva.
  • The sculpture displays the saint’s childlike quality, while also empowering him with the maturity and authority of a spiritual leader.
  • It was stolen from Sayavaneeswarar Temple, Nagapattinam, between 1965 and 1975.

 

 

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Buddhist heritage in Gujarat

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Places associated with Buddha

Mains level: Buddhist architecture

Prime Minister in Lumbini, on the occasion of Buddha Purnima, said that his birthplace Vadnagar in Gujarat’s Mehsana district had been a great centre for Buddhist learning centuries ago.

Vadnagar’s ties with Buddhism

  • In 2014, the excavation work has brought up Buddhist relics and around 20,000 artefacts, some dating back to the 2nd century.
  • Among these are an elliptical structure and a circular stupa along with a square memorial stupa of 2×2 metres and 130 centimetres in height with a wall enclosure.
  • It is like a platform which has a chamber in the centre that resembles a pradakshina path.
  • Further, bowls said to be used by monks have been found during the excavations, which have a terracotta sealing with inscriptions of namassarvagyaya and a face-shaped pendant with tritatva symbol.
  • Sacred relics of the Buddha were even found in Devni Mori in Aravalli district of Gujarat.

In travellers record

  • Vadnagar is mentioned often in the Puranas and even in the travelogue of the great Chinese traveler, Hiuen Tsang (7th century), as a rich and flourishing town.
  • He is believed to have visited the state in 641 AD.
  • It adds how some of the names attributed to Vadnagar in history are Chamatkarpur, Anandpur, Snehpur and Vimalpur.
  • It also had snippets about other Buddhist heritage sites in Gujarat, such as Junagadh, Kutch and Bharuch.

Back2Basics: Places associated with Buddha

These are three of the few holiest sites in Buddhism:

  1. Bodh Gaya in Bihar, the site of the enlightenment of Gautama Buddha under a tree and top site in the list of world heritage sites in India.
  2. Kesaria stupa is a Buddhist stupa in Kesariya, located at a distance of 110 kilometres (68 mi) from Patna, in the Champaran (east) district of Bihar, India. The first construction of the Stupa is dated to the 3rd century BCE. Kesariya Stupa has a circumference of almost 400 feet (120 m) and raises to a height of about 104 feet (32 m).
  3. Nalanda was a renowned Buddhist University in the ancient kingdom of Magadha (modern-day Bihar) in India.Buddhist texts describe it as a Mahavihara, a revered Buddhist monastery.
  4. Sarnath near Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, the site of the first sermon (Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta), where Buddha taught about the Middle Way, the Four Noble Truths and Noble Eightfold Path.
  5. Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh, the site of the Buddha’s parinirvana and home of many famous meditation & prayer offering sites in India.

 

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Iron in Tamil Nadu 4,200 years ago: A new dating and its significance

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Iron Age

Mains level: Ancient Indian Civilizations

Carbon dating of excavated finds in Tamil Nadu pushes evidence of iron being used in India back to 4,200 years ago, the Tamil Nadu government announced this week on the basis of an archaeological report.

What is the news?

  • Before this, the earliest evidence of iron use was from 1900-2000 BCE for the country, and from 1500 BCE for Tamil Nadu.
  • The latest evidence dates the findings from Tamil Nadu to 2172 BCE! Much older.
  • The results of dating, used accelerator mass spectroscopy.

Where were these objects found?

  • The excavations are from Mayiladumparai near Krishnagiri in Tamil Nadu, about 100 km south of Bengaluru.
  • Mayiladumparai is an important site with cultural material dating back between the Microlithic (30,000 BCE) and Early Historic (600 BCE) ages.
  • The site is situated in the midst of several archaeological sites such as Togarapalli, Gangavaram, Sandur, Vedarthattakkal, Guttur, Gidlur, Sappamutlu and Kappalavadi.

Outcome: Varying span of Iron Age

  • The dates when humans entered the Iron Age vary from one region of the world to another.
  • In India, too, the date has been revised with successive findings over the decades.

When the Iron Age is considered in India?

  • In 1979, use of iron was traced to 1300 BCE at Ahar in Rajasthan. This is what we have been reading in NCERTs.
  • Later, samples at Bukkasagara in Karnataka, indicating iron production, were dated back to 1530 BCE.
  • The date was subsequently pushed back to 1700-1800 BCE with excavations finding evidence of iron smelting at Raipura in the Mid-Ganga valley.
  • It was then to 1900-2000 BCE based on investigations in sites at Malhar near Varanasi and Brahmagiri in North Karnataka.
  • A series of dating results on finds from various parts in India have shown evidence of iron-ore technology before 1800 BCE.
  • Before the latest discovery, the earliest evidence of iron use for Tamil Nadu was from Thelunganur and Mangadu near Mettur, dating back to 1500 BCE.

Historical significance

  • Iron is not known to have been used in the Indus Valley, from where the use of copper in India is said to have originated (1500 BCE).
  • But non-availability of copper for technological and mass exploitation forced other regions to remain in the Stone Age.
  • When iron technology was invented, it led to the production of agricultural tools and weapons, leading to production required for a civilisation ahead of economic and cultural progress.
  • While useful tools were made out of copper, these were brittle and not as strong as iron tools would be.
  • With the latest evidence tracing our Iron Age to 2000 BCE from 1500 BC, we can assume that our cultural seeds were laid in 2000 BCE.
  • And the benefit of socio-economic changes and massive production triggered by the iron technology gave its first fruit around 600 BCE — the Tamil Brahmi scripts.

Culture and politics

  • The Tamil Brahmi scripts were once believed to have originated around 300 BCE, until a landmark finding in 2019 pushed the date back to 600 BCE.
  • This dating narrowed the gap between the Indus Valley civilisation and Tamilagam/South India’s Sangam Age.
  • This, and the latest findings, are politically significant.
  • The dating of the scripts, based on excavations from sites including Keeladi near Madurai, became controversial when the ASI did not go for advanced carbon dating tests.

 

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Rakhigarhi skeletons’ DNA samples sent for analysis

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Indus valley civilization and its decline

Mains level: Not Much

DNA samples collected from two human skeletons unearthed at a necropolis of a Harappan-era city site in Rakhigarhi, Haryana have been sent for scientific examination.

Why in news?

  • DNA analysis might tell about the ancestry and food habits of people who lived in the Rakhigarhi region thousands of years ago.

About 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.

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.

 

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

How ancient megalithic jars connect Assam with Laos and Indonesia

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Megalithic Burials in India

Mains level: Not Much

The discovery of a number of megalithic stone jars in Assam’s Dima Hasao district has brought to focus possible links between India’s Northeast and Southeast Asia, dating back to the second millennium BC.

What is the news?

  • According to a study in Asian Archaeology, the jars are a “unique archaeological phenomenon”.
  • It calls for more research to understand the “likely cultural relationship” between Assam and Laos and Indonesia, the only two other sites where similar jars have been found.

About the Megalithic Jars

  • The jars of Assam were first sighted in 1929 by British civil servants James Philip Mills and John Henry Hutton.
  • They recorded their presence in six sites in Dima Hasao: Derebore (now Hojai Dobongling), Kobak, Kartong, Molongpa (now Melangpeuram), Ndunglo and Bolasan (now Nuchubunglo).
  • More such sites were later discovered in 2016 and 2020.
  • Researchers documented three distinct jar shapes (bulbous top with conical end; biconcial; cylindrical) on spurs, hill slopes and ridge lines.

Their significance

  • While the jars are yet to be scientifically dated, the researchers said links could be drawn with the stone jars found in Laos and Indonesia.
  • There are typological and morphological similarities between the jars found at all three sites.
  • Dating done at the Laos site suggests that jars were positioned at the sites as early as the late second millennium BC.
  • The other takeaway is the link to mortuary practices with human skeletal remains found inside and buried around the jars.
  • In Indonesia, the function of the jars remains unconfirmed, although some scholars suggest a similar mortuary role.

Back2Basics: Megalithic Burials in India

  • 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.)
  • Taken together, these monuments lend these disparate peoples the common traits of what we know as megalithic culture, one which lasted from the Neolithic Stone Age to the early Historical Period (2500 BC to AD 200) across the world.
  • 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.

 

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

In news: Ancient Tamil Civilization

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Tamiraparani Civilization

Mains level: Ancient Indian Civilizations

A reconnaissance survey in the sea off the coast of Korkai in Thoothukudi district where Tamiraparani River joins the sea, which finds mention in Sangam literature, will be undertaken by the Tamil Nadu Archaeology Department.

About Tamiraparani 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.

Back2Basics: Keeladi Civilization

  • The Keeladi tale began to unravel in March 2015 when first round of excavation was undertaken by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
  • It unearthed antiquities providing crucial evidence to understanding the missing links of the Iron Age [12th century BCE to 6th century BCE] to the Early Historic Period [6th century BCE to 4th century BCE].
  • Further excavations threw up strong clues about the existence of a Tamil Civilization that had trade links with other regions in the country and abroad.
  • This civilization has been described by Tamil poets belonging to the Sangam period.
  • Results of carbon dating of a few artifacts traced their existence to 2nd century BCE (the Sangam period).

Key findings in excavations

  • These included brick structures, terracotta ring wells, fallen roofing with tiles, golden ornaments, broken parts of copper objects, iron implements, terracotta chess pieces, ear ornaments, spindle whorls, figurines.
  • It also had black and redware, rouletted ware and a few pieces of Arretine ware, besides beads made of glass, terracotta and semi-precious stones.

 

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Back in news: Aryan Invasion Theory

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Indus valley civilization and its decline

Mains level: Aryan Invasion Theory

The 2022 calendar of the IIT, Kharagpur on the theme of “evidence” for “rebutting the Aryan invasion myth” has caused controversy.

What is the Aryan Invasion Theory?

  • It has always been understood that the Aryans migration from the Steppe happened after 2000 BCE.
  • 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.

Basis of this theory

  • This was first propounded when linguistic similarities between Sanskrit and the major European languages were discovered by European scholars during the colonial era.
  • This tool was used by the colonizers to legitimize their rule in India.
  • The theory hypothesizes that during 2000BC Aryans from Europe invaded or migrated into the Asian subcontinent.
  • It states these ‘invaders’ killed the original Dravidians and set up the Aryan race in the South-Asian subcontinent.
  • The Aryan Invasion Theory claimed that these ‘invaders’ were the root of modern Indian civilization, not the Harappan civilization.

Its rebuttal

  • Recent studies have debunked the theory after DNA samples from 5000-year old Harappan remains were proven to be similar to modern Indians’ DNA as part of the Rakhigarhi Project.

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.

Try this PYQ:

Q With reference to the difference between the culture of Rigvedic Aryans and Indus Valley people, which of the following statements correct?

  1. Rigvedic Aryans used the coat of mail and helmet in warfare whereas the people of Indus Valley Civilization did not leave any evidence of using them.
  2. Rigvedic Aryans knew gold, silver and copper whereas Indus Valley people knew only copper and iron.
  3. Rigvedic Aryans had domesticated the horse whereas there is no evidence of Indus Valley people having been aware of this animal.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) Only 1

(c) 1 and 3 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

 

Post your answers here.
6
Please leave a feedback on thisx

 

 

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Places in news: Konark Sun Temple

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Konark Sun Temple

Mains level: Kalinga and other temple architecture

The Archaeological Survey of India is working on a preliminary roadmap to safely remove sand from the interiors of Odisha’s Sun Temple, which was filled up by the British 118 years ago to prevent it from collapsing.

Konark Sun Temple

  • Konark Sun Temple is a 13th-century CE Sun temple at Konark about 36 kilometres northeast from Puri on the coastline of Odisha, India.
  • The temple is attributed to king Narasinga Deva I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty about 1250 CE.
  • Declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1984 it remains a major pilgrimage site for Hindus, who gather here every year for the Chandrabhaga Mela around the month of February.

Its architecture

  • Dedicated to the Hindu Sun God Surya, what remains of the temple complex has the appearance of a 100-foot (30 m) high chariot with immense wheels and horses, all carved from stone.
  • Its architecture has all the defining elements of the Kalinga architecture – it includes Shikhara (crown), Jagmohana (audience hall), Natmandir (dance hall), and Vimana (tower).
  • Also called the Surya Devalaya, it is a classic illustration of the Odisha style of Architecture or Kalinga Architecture.
  • Once over 200 feet (61 m) high, much of the temple is now in ruins, in particular the large shikara tower over the sanctuary; at one time this rose much higher than the mandapa that remains.
  • The structures and elements that have survived are famed for their intricate artwork, iconography, and themes, including erotic kama and mithuna scenes.
  • The Jagamohan is the only structure that is fully intact now.

Earlier restoration efforts

  • It had been filled with sand and sealed by the British authorities in 1903 in order to stabilize the structure, a/c to ASI.
  • The sand filled in over 100 years ago had settled, leading to a gap of about 17 feet.
  • However, the structure was found to be stable.

 

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

[pib] Chalcolithic sites in news: Eran and Tewar

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Chalcolithic culture in India

Mains level: Not Much

The Chalcolithic cultures of Central India are adequately investigated and studied informed the Ministry of Culture in particular reference to the sites of Eran and Tewar.

Major sites in Central India

[1] Eran (Dist. Sagar, MP )

  • Eran (ancient Airikina) is situated on the left bank of the Bina (ancient Venva) river and surrounded by it on three sides.
  • The recent excavation has unearthed a variety of antiquities including a copper coin, an iron arrowhead, terracotta bead, stone beads along with copper coins, stone celt, beads of steatite and jasper, etc.
  • The occurrence of few specimens of plain, thin grey ware is noteworthy.
  • The use of iron was evidenced by few metallic objects at the site.

[2] Tewar (Dist. Jabalpur, MP)

  • Tewar (Tripuri) village is located 12 km west of Jabalpur district on Jabalpur – Bhopal highway.
  • This excavation did not reach the natural soil and revealed four folds of cultural sequences i.e. Kushana, Shunga, Satvahana, and Kalachuri.
  • Antiquarian remains in this excavation include viz remains of sculptures, hopscotch, terracotta balls, Iron nails, copper coins, terracotta beads, implements of Iron and terracotta figurine, ceramics red ware etc.
  • It also revealed structural remains consist of brick wall and structure of sandstone columns.

Back2Basics: Chalcolithic Culture in India

  • A completely different kind of culture known as Chalcolithic Culture was developed in central India and Deccan region by the end of the Neolithic period.
  • It is characterized by the use of both stone and bronze implements.

Major Chalcolithic complexes in India

  1. Ahar culture c. 2,800-1,500 B.C.
  2. Kayatha culture c. 2,450-700 B.C.
  3. Malwa culture c. 1,900-1,400 B.C.
  4. Savalda culture c. 2,300-2,000 B.C.
  5. Jorwe culture c. 1,500 -900 B.C.
  6. Prabhas culture c. 2,000-1,400 B.C.
  7. Rangpur culture c. 1,700-1,400 B.C.

Important features

  • The people of Chalcolithic culture had used unique painted earthenware usually black-on-red.
  • The use of copper and bronze tools also evidenced on a limited scale.
  • The economy was largely based on subsistence agriculture, stock-raising, hunting, and fishing.
  • They, however, never reached the level of urbanization in spite they were using metal.
  • They were contemporary of the Harappan culture, but some other were of later Harappan age.

Their locations

  • The centers of Chalcolithic cultures flourished in semi-arid regions of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, and Maharashtra.
  • The settlements of Kayatha culture were mostly located on the Chambal River and its tributaries.
  • The settlements of Malwa culture are mostly located on the Narmada and its tributaries.
  • The three best known settlements of Malwa culture are at Navdatoli, Eran, and Nagada.
  • Navdatoli was one of the largest Chalcolithic settlements in the country spread in almost 10 hectares.
  • The settlements of Rangpur culture are located mostly on Ghelo and Kalubhar rivers in Gujarat.
  • More than 200 settlements of Jorwe culture are known. Greater numbers of these settlements are found in Maharashtra.
  • The best known settlements of Jorwe culture are Prakash, Daimabad, and Inamgaon. Daimabad was the largest one that measured almost 20 hectares.

Development of Agriculture

  • They cultivated both Kharif and Rabi crops in rotation and also raised cattle with it.
  • They cultivated wheat and barley in Malwa region. Rice was cultivated in Inamgaon and Ahar.
  • They also cultivated jowar, bajra, kulth, ragi, green peas, lentil, and green and black grams.
  • Largely, the Chalcolithic cultures flourished in the black cotton soil zone.

Trade and Commerce

  • The Chalcolithic communities traded and exchanged materials with other contemporary communities.
  • A large settlement serves as the major centers of trade and exchange.
  • Some of them were Ahar, Gilund, Nagada, Navdatoli, Eran, Prabhas, Rangpur, Prakash, Daimabad, and Inamgaon.
  • The Ahar people settled close to the copper source and were used to supply copper tools and objects to other contemporary communities in Malwa and Gujarat.
  • Identical marks embedded on most of the copper axes found in Malwa, Jorwe, and Prabhas cultures that might indicate that it may be the trademarks of the smiths who made them.
  • It is found that Conch shell for bangles was traded from the Saurashtra coast to various other parts of the Chalcolithic regions.
  • Gold and ivory come to Jorwe people from Tekkalkotta in Karnataka and semiprecious stones may have been traded to various parts from Rajpipla in Gujarat.
  • Wheeled bullock carts were used for long distance trade, besides the river transport. The drawings of wheeled bullock carts have been found on pots.

Try this PYQ from CSP 2019. It is dicey, but you cannot escape such questions.

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

(a) Chanhudaro

(b) Kot Diji

(c) Sohgaura

(d) Desalpur

 

Post your answers here.
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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Were there domestic horses in ancient India?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Indus valley civilization

Mains level: Not Much

A group of researchers has been able to collect bones and teeth samples of over 2,000 such ancient specimens from regions from where domestic horses could have originated.

Research on horse domestication

  • The research has studied fossils from the Iberian Peninsula in the southwestern corner of Europe, or the western-most edge of Eurasia (Spain and its neighbours), Anatolia (modern Turkey), and the steppes of Western Eurasia and Central Asia.
  • These collective data have led them to decide that until about 4200 BCE, many distinct horse populations inhabited various regions of Eurasia.

Key findings of the research

  • A similar genetic analysis has found that horses with the modern domestic DNA profile lived in the Western Eurasian Steppes, particularly the Volga-Don River region.
  • By around 2200–2000 BCE, these horses spread out to Bohemia (the Czech Republic of today and Ukraine), and Central Asia and Mongolia.
  • These horses were bred by breeders from these countries to sell them to countries that demanded them.
  • Riding on horses became popular in these nations by around 3300 BCE, and armies were built using them, for example, in Mesopotamia, Iran, Kuwait and the ‘Fertile Crescent’ or Palestine.
  • The first spoke-wheeled chariots emerged around 2000-1800 BC.

Indian story

  • Horses were never native to India.
  • The only animals native to India were the Asian elephant, snow leopard, rhinoceros, Bengal tiger, Sloth bear, Himalayan wolf, Gaur bison, red panda, crocodile, and the birds peacock and flamingo.
  • Thus, it seems clear from these sources that horse is not native to India.
  • Horses must have come into India through inter-regional trading between countries.
  • Indians might have traded their elephants, tigers, monkeys, birds to their neighbours and imported horses.

When did India get its horses?

  • Horse-related remains and artefacts have been found in Late Harappan sites (1900-1300 BCE).
  • Horses did not seem to have played an essential role in the Harappan civilization.
  • This is in contrast to the Vedic Period, which is a little later (1500-500 BCE).
  • The Sanskrit word for horse is Ashwa, which is mentioned in the Vedas and Hindu Scriptures.
  • These are roughly towards the end of the late Bronze Age.

Try this PYQ:

Q. With reference to the difference between the culture of Rigvedic Aryans and Indus Valley people, which of the following statements correct?

  1. Rigvedic Aryans used the coat of mail and helmet in warfare whereas the people of Indus Valley Civilization did not leave any evidence of using them.
  2. Rigvedic Aryans knew gold, silver and copper whereas Indus Valley people knew only copper and iron.
  3. Rigvedic Aryans had domesticated the horse whereas there is no evidence of Indus Valley people having been aware of this animal.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) Only 1

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

 

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Places in news: Mawsmai Cave

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Mawsmai Cave

Mains level: Not Much

A micro snail species named Georissa mawsmaiensis has recently been discovered from Mawsmai, a limestone cave in Meghalaya, 170 years after the last such discovery was made.

Georissa mawsmaiensis

  • Georissa is found in soil or subterranean habitats in lowland tropical forest as well as high altitude evergreen forests or on rock surfaces rich in calcium.
  • The members of the Georissa genus are widely distributed across and reported from Africa, Asia, and the Pacific.
  • However, they are confined to microhabitats consisting of limestone caves or karst landscapes formed by the dissolution of limestone.

About Mawsmai Cave

  • The Mawsmai cave is situated in the small village of Mawsmai, around four kilometres from Cherrapunjee (Sohra) in the East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya.
  • It is located at an altitude of 1,195 metres above sea level and is indirectly influenced by the streams of the Kynshi river originating from the East Khasi Hills.
  • The term ‘Mawsmai’ means ‘Oath Stone’ in the Khasi language. The Khasi people use the local term ‘Krem’ for the cave.
  • It is famous for its fossils, some which can be spotted looking at the walls and formations inside.
  • The longest is Krem Liat Prah in the Jaintia Hills, which is 30,957 m (31 km approx.)

 

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Genetic proof for domestication of sheep in Indian subcontinent

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Indus valley civilization

Mains level: Key developments on IVC

Researchers at the Central University of Kerala (CUK) have found that domestication of sheep had taken place in the Indian subcontinent, especially in the Indus Valley Civilisation (IVC) regions in the 6th or 7th millennium BC.

Animal domestication in IVC

A number of domesticated animal species have been found in excavations at the Harappan cities.

  • The Indian humped cattle (Bos indicus) were most frequently encountered, though whether along with a humpless variety, such as that shown on the seals, is not clearly established.
  • The buffalo (B. bubalis) is less common and may have been wild.
  • Sheep and goats occur, as does the Indian pig (Sus cristatus).
  • The camel is present, as well as the ass (Equus asinus).
  • Bones of domestic fowl are not uncommon; these fowl were domesticated from the indigenous jungle fowl.
  • Finally, the cat and the dog were both evidently domesticated.
  • Present, but not necessarily as a domesticated species, is the elephant.
  • The horse is possibly present but extremely rare and apparently only present in the last stages of the Harappan Period.

Key findings of the study

  • The study has found genetic evidence that sheep had been domesticated in the region in contrast to the general belief that they were domesticated then in West Asia alone.
  • India ranks second in terms of sheep population, represented by as many as 44 well-described breeds in addition to several nondescript species.
  • It highlights that genetic diversity and phylogeography of Indian sheep breeds remained poorly understood, particularly the south Indian breed.

How was the classification held?

  • Researchers retrieved the mitochondrial DNA sequences of another 11 breeds for analysis, which further strengthened their study.
  • The researchers analysed these sequences along with published data of domestic and wild sheep from different countries, including India.
  • The haplotype diversity observed was relatively high in Indian sheep, which were classified into the three known major mitochondrial DNA lineages namely A, B, and C.

Diversity among Indian Sheeps

  • It was found that lineage A was predominant among Indian sheep, whereas lineages B and C were observed at low frequencies.
  • Particularly lineage C was restricted to the breeds of northern and eastern India.
  • The study examined the south Indian breeds, provided strong genetic evidence that the Indian subcontinent was one of the domestication centres of the lineage A sheep.
  • When DNA sequences were compared with other breeds across the world, it was found that the Indian sheep haplotypes were unique and highly diverse.
  • The high genetic diversity and statistical analysis suggest that sheep was domesticated in the country.
  • The wild Sheep, O. vignei blanfordi in Mehrgarh [Pakistan], may be a potential progenitor of domestic sheep lineage.

Breeds studied

  • Among the south Indian breeds, except for Mandya, all others, notably Bellary, Coimbatore, Hassan, Katchaikatty Black, Nilgri, Ramnad White, and Vembur, were fully encompassed with lineage A.
  • However, Kenguri Kilakarsal, Madras Red, Mecheri, and Tiruchy Black breeds, had very low occurrences of lineage B mitochondria.
  • In contrast, a majority of individuals of Mandya and Sonadi breeds carried a relatively high frequency of lineage B.
  • In terms of the conservation of sheep genetic resources, these two breeds are important with respect to maternal lineages.

Try answering this PYQ:

With reference to the difference between the culture of Rigvedic Aryans and Indus Valley people, which of the following statements is/are correct?

  1. Rigvedic Aryans used the coat of mail and helmet in warfare whereas the people of Indus Valley Civilization did not leave any evidence of using them.
  2. Rigvedic Aryans knew gold, silver and copper whereas Indus Valley people knew only copper and iron.
  3. Rigvedic Aryans had domesticated the horse whereas there is no evidence of Indus Valley people having been aware of this animal.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

 

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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Chola inscriptions on qualifications for civic officials

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Kudavolai System

Mains level: Chola Administration

In the Kancheepuram district of Tamil Nadu, some Chola-era inscriptions on Kanthaleeswarar Temple bear testimony to the qualifications required for members of the village administrative council.

Inscription details: Kudavolai System

  • The Kudavolai system was very vital and unique feature of administration of villages of Cholas.
  • In the system one representative is elected from each ward and every village had 30 wards.
  • The village administrative committee was called as variyam.
  • The election was unique as names of contestants were written on palm leaf and put in a pot.

Taxation details

  • The rulers were considerate while taxing agricultural produce.
  • For areca nuts, only 50% tax would be collected for the first 10 years after cultivation. Farmers would pay full tax only after the trees started yielding fruits.
  • Similarly, 50% tax was imposed on banana crops until the yield.

Though a tough one, but try answering 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

 

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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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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

[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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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

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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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

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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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

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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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

[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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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

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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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

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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aamadmi
aamadmi
5 years ago

Thank you cd

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