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Settlements in Haryana Before 7000 BC? National Museum Joins Excavation

New Delhi: Do Harappan settlements on the Indian side go back as early as 7000 BC or more? National Museum of India, in a first, will start digging at Kunal in Haryana’s Fatehabad district to know for sure whether the civilisation there is more ancient than previously believed.

National Museum Director General Buddha Rashmi Mani told News18 that they have been motivated by the excavations in Haryana’s Bhirana and Pakistan’s Mehergarh which showed that settlements in the area were nearly 9000 years old.

India’s premier museum will take part in the excavations along with Indian Archeological Society (IAS), which is a non-profit organization for archeologists set up by Professor AK Narain and other eminent Indologists in 1967.

“For the first time, the National Museum will be part of excavations,” said Mani, who is also the general secretary of IAS. The two organisations together have signed an MoU with the archeological department of Haryana.

“Our national museum has never done excavations in the past, but this time we are going to Kunal because Bhirana has given the early dates and the same material has been found in Kunal, it goes back 7000 BC or more. The material is same and excavations further here will confirm the dates,” Mani said.

He added that Kunal is normally known as Hakra ware culture, which is a Pre-Harappan culture. “We would like to find linkages between the Pre-Harappan cultures with the Neolithic Age culture. Earlier excavations in Haryana’s other regions have given early dates and excavations in new site will confirm it,” he said.

Mani, who was also part of Ayodhya excavation, wants to put his experience of archaeology to good use as the DG of National Museum. “If you see the list then 2004 onwards this post has been occupied by administrative people. There were no art historians and archaeologists. I am an archaeologist and now our duty is to educate the people.”

The approval has been given by the Director General Archeological Survey of India and the procedure involves formation of a committee called Central Advisory Board of Archeology that meets every year, even twice a year. It will be funded by IAS.

“We wrote about this project to the authorities to excavate Kunal, which is the earliest settlement in Harayana. Now that Dr Mani, who is our member, has been transferred to the national museum we have the institute with us too in this task. We will fund it. Money is not a problem and it is going to be a full-fledged excavations,” IAS chairman KN Dixit said.

It will start with a couple of trenches and expand till March. “The main purpose is to find that our civilization is 7000 BC. From the excavations at some areas like Bhirana, we are getting the dates of 7500 BC. So the question is, we want to touch few other sites because with one or two excavations we cannot confirm it,” Dixit said.

Excavations in Kunal were supposed to start in January 15, but have been delayed till the end of the month due to lack of preparations. The site is large and some parts of it have already been excavated.

In Kumal, three successive phases of occupation from pit dwelling to that of square and rectangular mud brick houses came to light and were supposed to be the earliest remains of pre-Harappan culture in India. According to the state archaeology department website there were “a hoard of regalia item including six gold beads of a necklace, an armlet and a few bangle pieces and 12445 beads of semi-precious stones. It makes the whole gamut of luxury items as ‘richest’ when seen in the context of rural nature of settlement of 3000 BC.”

One of the important contributions of this site is the discovery of steatite and shell seals, which are the earliest example of seal manufacturing in India so far. The results of these excavations were extremely significant given its connect to the Harappan culture of which the world knows precious little.