Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Athagarh/Bhubaneswar, May 29:
Archaeologists are of the view that the skeletal remains unearthed during construction of a bridge near Talagada village under Kuleilo panchayat near Athagarh in Odisha’s Cuttack district belong to the later part of the Stone Age or Neolithic period (2000 BC) and there existed a human civilisation during that time.
Eminent skeleton biologist Veena Mushrif-Tripathy, from the Department of Archaeology, Deccan College Post-Graduate and Research Institute, Pune visited the excavation site on Thursday and examined the skeleton to clear the air on the mystery about its age.
“It appears that the deceased was a robust male and in the age group of 25 and 35. This belongs to the later part of the Stone Age (2000 BC). A turtle shell near the skeleton and a bead was found beneath the decomposed body,” Mushrif-Tripathy said.
Apart from the skeleton, the archaeologists and researchers on Wednesday had found an axe from beneath the soil which was believed to be from the Stone Age. The articles found from the site included–Iron chisel, red and black pottery, filigree and stone artefacts.
“The human skeleton found here bears resemblance with that found in Harirajpur a couple of months back. The bone samples would be sent for DNA analysis to Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad. If required, it would be referred to American Society for Microbiology (ASM), Florida, USA,” Veena said.
The body was buried face down parallel to the ground with the head facing east and legs towards west. Historians say the bodies were given a burial under the floor of their houses in those times. The skeleton found here gives enough evidence of being of that age. The dental structure of the skeleton is intact and various articles such as pottery, slate and other household items of Copper Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age were found near the site.
While the excavators have dug out an area 220m in length, 170m in breadth and 5m deep, the research would continue till June 10 as monsoon is likely to hit the state around that time, Umakanta Mishra, Assistant Professor of Ravenshaw University’s History Department said.
Notably, a history student Pabitra Mohan Pradhan from Kuleilo area had attempted to excavate this site in 2006. After discovery of some historic articles from the upper surface of the soil, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had given approval for excavation at this site in 2013.
A team led by Assistant Professor Dr Subrat Kumar Acharya of the History Department of Ravenshaw University in Cuttack, 10 post graduate history students and two PhD scholars have started their excavation work three days ago at this site.
During moving of the earth with machines for construction of the bridge, parts of a skeleton were unearthed from the fourth and fifth layer of the soil. The pieces were assembled and sent to Ravenshaw University on Thursday for further study. The pieces would be joined under the supervision of skeleton biologist Veena Mushrif-Tripathy and would be preserved in the museum of the History Department of the varsity. Besides, other articles discovered from the site would also find place in the museum, Prof Acharya informed.
It is believed that Talagada is one of the eight gada’s (forts) among the Athagada (Athagarh) jurisdiction, which was one of the princely states of India during the period of the British Raj. A human civilisation dating back to the Stone Age existed at the site and it has wiped out with the evolution of time, historians opine.
Prof KK Basa from the Department of Anthropology, Utkal University, along with other experts, also visited the site yesterday.
It may be mentioned that a villager of neighbouring Patalinga had stumbled upon a copper plate in 2006 with inscriptions that the then ruler Rani Dandi Mahadevi had donated a village to a Brahmin in 190 of Bhouma era. The copper plate is believed to be from 926 BC, historians say.