The former ASI Director General launched the first excavation at the Purana Quila site in 1954-55 in which he found structures ascribable to the Gupta, Kushana and Sunga periods.

As the Delhi Chapter of the Archaeological Survey of India seeks to establish the existence of Indraprastha and show evidence of the Mahabharat period at the ongoing excavation at the Purana Quila site, its team members have a lot to learn from eminent archaeologist Prof. B. B. Lal.

The former ASI Director General launched the first excavation at the Purana Quila site in 1954-55 in which he found structures ascribable to the Gupta, Kushana and Sunga periods.

“The trial excavation was alongside the passage leading down to water gate in the eastern fortification wall of Purana Quila. The trial trench revealed that below the northern black polished ware levels lay the remains of the painted grey ware culture. Between the south of the Purana Quila and Humayun’s Tomb, there is an open area from where a number of painted grey ware were discovered. It was here that the oldest settlement began.”

Prof. Lal said the polished grey ware is the earliest common pottery connecting all the Mahabharat sites such as Hastinapur, Mathura, Kurukshetra and Kampilya.

“The evidence clearly establishes that the Purana Quila and its southern neighbourhood represent Indraprastha of the Mahabharat times. In fact, right up to 1947, a village named Indrapat existed inside the Purana Quila. This name was derived from ancient Indraprastha.”

Prof. Lal was invited by the ASI to inaugurate the excavation at Purana Quila which began a month ago. But the nonagenarian politely declined as he rarely steps out of his second floor flat in South Delhi.

“But I wished best of luck to the team and am hopeful that the ASI will be successful in discovering polished grey ware.”

In 1951-52, Prof. Lal carried out excavations at Hastinapura, situated in Meerut district.

Interestingly, the excavation at Hastinapura revealed that around 800 B.C. a heavy flood in the Ganga destroyed a considerable portion of polished grey ware settlement.

Pointing out that the combined evidence of archaeology and literature establishes the historicity of Mahabharat, Prof. Lal said to the faithful everything mentioned in the epic is true to its letters.

“However, sceptics insist that Mahabharat is nothing more than a figment of someone’s imagination. All the sites associated with the mythological epic continue to have the same nomenclature even till this day.”

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