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Excavations at pre-Harappan site points at traces of Saraswati: National Museum

The year-long excavation, which was the first excavation project taken up by the National Museum, has also led to the acquisition of over 500 artefacts

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Excavations at pre-Harappan site points at traces of Saraswati: National Museum
The site in Haryana that was excavated
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    Archaeological findings at the pre-Harappan protected site at Kunal in Fatehabad, Haryana points at traces of the lost river Saraswati, said BR Mani, Director General, National Museum. The year-long excavation, which was the first excavation project taken up by the National Museum, has also led to the acquisition of over 500 artefacts.

    Mani said that the team excavated an area including 15 trenches and seven square plots of 100 metre each. "We found over 500 valuable artefacts, and traces of Hakra pottery associated with sites located along the lost river Saraswati. Rarely are they found around sites situated along the Indus river," said Mani, who was formerly the additional director general at the Archaeological Survey of India.

    At the site, where the excavations have been carried out by the National Museum, along with the Haryana State Department of Archaeology and the Indian Archaeological Society (IAS), excavations have led to the discovery of dwelling pots, hearths, pots, and ancient jewellery.

    The site was first excavated in 1985-86 and subsequently 1991-96 by the Haryana State Department of Archaeology, leading to the discovery of some of the earliest known pre-Harappan settlements dating to around 3600 BC. In a nearby site, at Bhirrana, which is over 20 km away from Kunal, pottery dating as early as 7th millennium BC were found.

    Mani says, though the area had been excavated earlier, he felt that there was scope to unearth more. He had filed a proposal to excavate the site as the (then) president of the Indian Arc haeological Society (IAS). After the proposal was green-lighted by the Standing Committee of the Central Advisory Board of Archaeology (CABA), the National Museum wrote to the ASI to be made part of the excavation project. Mani is currently the vice-president of the IAS.

    "Since we became part of the excavation, the artefacts will belong to the National Museum now," said Mani.

    The National Museum has now sent samples of charcoal found at the site for radiocarbon dating (C-14) and Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) dating to the Florida-based Beta Labs and the Lucknow-based Birbal Sahani Institute of Palaeontology.

    Mani added that the findings could push back the dates at the site by a considerable period of time.

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