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Sisupalgarh had a flourishing urban life: researchers

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Major find: Excavation work in progress at the ancient city of Sisupalgarh in Orissa.
Major find: Excavation work in progress at the ancient city of Sisupalgarh in Orissa.

Satyasundar Barik

BHUBANESWAR: Researchers involved in excavation at the ancient city of Sisupalgarh on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar have come across a number of artefacts and structures that throw light on the existence of a flourishing urban life during the pre-historic period.

The geophysical research showed large-scale patterns of subsurface architecture such as streets, which were visible linking the gateways in the interior of the site, and a large ancient perimeter area around the pillar zone, said R.K. Mohanty of the Pune-based Deccan College and Monica L. Smith of the University of California here on Thursday.

These researchers, with the help of students from different universities and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), began their work in 2000, about 50 years after the first excavation.

After several deep trenches, they have now exposed 18 previously unknown pillars and several associated structures on a mound within the fortification wall.

Sisupalgarh was absolutely visible through naked eyes as well as from the space and this could be one of its kinds of cultural heritage in the whole of eastern India, the researchers claimed.

“It seemed to be a large city, which could have been governed under one ruler. The ancient population inhabiting the place was estimated to be 25,000,” said Mr. Mohanty, an archaeologist.

“The civilisation could have lasted for more than 1,000 years between 3rd BC and 3rd AD,” he said.

Researchers worked on the place adjacent to a “majestic gate” excavated by Prof B.B. Lal in 1950. They found house foundations of laterite block architecture. The habitation areas also contained very large quantities of household pottery such as bowls and jars along with other household artefacts such as iron nails and terracotta ornaments including bangles, finger rings, pendants and ear spools.

Pointing out that the latest debris deposits and pillars indicated that it was meant for public use, Ms. Smith said the ancient artisans at Sisupalgarh were manufacturing potteries massively and those were in rapid use.

“It suggested that the people, animals and trash were closely integrated in the crowded space of the city. Moreover, they might have practised the same wasteful consumption which is witnessed in the modern day cities,” said Ms. Smith, an anthropologist.


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