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A piece of history unearthed

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Historic value: The stone slab with inscriptions discovered at the Guntupalli rock-cut caves in West Godavari.
Historic value: The stone slab with inscriptions discovered at the Guntupalli rock-cut caves in West Godavari.

Ramesh Susarla

Based on the paleography of Brahmi letters, it can be dated to the last quarter of 2nd Century AD, say archaeologists

AMARAVATHI: In a valuable discovery recently Archaeological Survey of India chanced upon an inscribed Cuddapah stone slab in front of the second cave from south at Guntupalli rock-cut caves in West Godavari.

The slab measures, 96 cm in length, 51 cm in height and 8 cm in thickness with an inscription in the early Brahmi characters. The language is Prakrit with the whole inscription in the middle, Superintending Archaeologist and ASI Director D. Jitendra Das told The Hindu.

Damaged rock-cut floors of porches in front of the upper group of cave monasteries were taken up for repair and to provide lime concrete flooring, which paved the way for this discovery. Unfortunately a few letters are missing due to mutilation over the years. Some of the letters got eroded since the slab was rolled out from its place and also due to bad weather.

14 letters

The inscription contains 14 letters, beautifully engraved with scribal perfection, Mr. Das said. According to him the inscription reads -- Gift of the slab by the venerable monk Midikilayakha. The inscription was a smaller one, but records proved that venerable Buddhist acharyas and monks had participated along with common public and extended their might in the massive campaign of excavating the rock-cut Vihara complexes on Guntupalli hillocks, he opined. The present slab was donated for beautification of the Viharas. The script was stylish and the letters were engraved with perfect alignment. The Brahmi inscription was deciphered and interpreted by assistant superintending archaeologist D. Kanna Babu, of Amaravathi in Guntur district. Mr. Babu said, “Based on the paleography of Brahmi letters it can be dated to the last quarter of 2nd Century AD. This comes under the group of late Satavahana inscriptions, which had paved the way for the newly-emerged ornamental Brahmi style under Ikshvaku regime.”

These were the prototype of Ikshvaku ornamental writing.

Those who worked on the mission include Ch. Babji Rao, assistant archaeologist K. Veeranjaneyulu, senior conversationist and K.V.V. S.N. Murthy caretaker.


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