A megalithic burial cluster close to site of human habitation belonging to the Iron Age have been discovered near Kollegal in Chamarajanagar district.
Megaliths in India are generally dated from 1,500 BC or earlier to 5th century BC and are some of the earliest records of prehistoric society.
Discovered at Budipadaga in Hanur taluk abutting the BRT Tiger Reserve and M.M. Hills Wildlife Sanctuary this is one of the rare findings or examples of both human habitation and burial clusters in close proximity.
There are three burial sites of different sizes at the cluster which is at a distance of nearly 300 metres from the habitation site which is now part of an agricultural field.
The excavation project is fully funded by the University of Mysore and a team headed by V. Shobha, Assistant Professor, Department of Ancient History and Archaeology, is working on the project.
‘As many as 40 burial sites were reported by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in the 1960s. The University approved a project to document and locate the exact sites that were mentioned by the ASI as no material is available pertaining to the earlier findings but for the names of the villages’’, said Ms. Shobha.
When the team set out to survey the area it could locate some of the sites reported by the ASI and in the process it stumbled upon evidence of human habitation in Budipadaga. The team recovered broken fragments of pottery apart from animal bones and was led to the site of the burial cluster by the local villagers.
‘’The burials are in the form of cairn circles or stone circle with boulders. The largest megalith is 9 metres in diameter while another is 6 metres and the smallest is 4.5 metres in diameter. We are in the process of clearing the dump on and around the burials and once opened it will reveal what is beneath’’, according to Ms.. Shobha who is being assisted by a few researchers.
‘’We have also collected charcoal samples from the habitation site in a bid to establish the date and if we can date the habitation, we can also date the burials’’, said Ms. Shobha.
The discovery of habitation site and burial cluster at the same place is interesting as it indicates continuity of a culture that existed since prehistoric times in the region. It also raises questions as to how people lived in this landscape and whether the area was part of an ancient route connecting to other regions, according to the team excavating the site.
G. Hemantha Kumar, Vice-Chancellor, University of Mysore, said the University has a record of funding such projects resulting in creation of knowledge database as they also bring credit to the varsity. ‘’Professors from science streams tend to get seed money from the UGC and the varsity extends funding to lecturers if they propose a worthy project. So far about 20 such works have been funded’’, he added.
The current excavation is expected to find evidence to correlate the data from burial site with the habitation.