A team of archaeologists and anthropologists has stumbled upon the remains of an adult human being who lived around 4,000 years ago. The discovery is expected to throw light on the emergence of early farming communities in coastal Odisha.
The team, led by Professor Kishore Kumar Basa of the department of anthropology, Utkal University, and Professor R.K. Mohanty of Deccan College, Pune, found the skeleton while undertaking excavations at a site south of Banga village near Harirajpur on the outskirts of Jatni, around 15km from here.
The chalcolithic (copper stone age) site has also yielded pottery, stone artefacts, animal bones, copper fragments and living floors indicative of an ancient habitation.
According to Basa, who is a former director of Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalay, Bhopal, and National Museum, Calcutta, the skeleton could be between 3,500 and 4,000 years old.
The artefacts recovered from the site bear close resemblance to the discoveries made by the Archaelogical Survey of India (ASI) at Golabai, 30km from Harirajpur, in the 90s.
“The finding of skeletal remains of this kind is the second such occurrence in the state after Golabai. The skeleton of a child (without head) was found at Golabai about 20 years ago. That site was excavated by the ASI,” said Basa.
Basa, however, said that the skeleton would be sent to the Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeobotany in Lucknow to ascertain its age through carbon dating.
“This excavation would throw light on the emergence of early farming communities, their settlements and exploitation of natural resources in coastal Odisha. This would also throw light on the phase of Odishan cultural history prior to the emergence of urbanisation at Sisupalgarh and such other sites which are dated to about 500 BC to about 600 AD,” said Basa.
Superintending archaeologist, ASI, Bhubaneswar circle, A.K. Patel, said the discoveries made at Banga and Golabai showed the evolution of civilisation in Odisha till the fort settlement of Sisupalgarh came up in the 3rd century BC.
A pre-Mauryan settlement, Sisupalgarh harks back to one of the most glorious chapters in the history of the state. The ruins of the old fort town lie towards the south-east edge of Bhubaneswar.
While Patel was hopeful of more such discoveries being made in and around the city, the team engaged in the excavations at Banga appeared to be equally enthusiastic.
“We expect more interesting revelations from the site as digging goes on,’’ said Basa, who has Daitari Sahoo of Utkal University and Santanu Vaidya of Deccan College apart from Mohanty for assistance. Eight students of Utkal University are also working at the site.