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Bhagalpur : Recent discovery of two very specific idols dated back to latter half of Gupta period and early Pala periods from Khahara in Banka district along with recoveries of such old precious idols or stone inscriptions around the 50-60 km radius during last fortnight have once established the archeological importance of this region.
The team of the directorate of archaeology, government of Bihar recently has discovered two rare idols of Gautam Buddha and another one is the either a 17 th or 16 th Tirthankar of Jainism and another is of Bodhisattva in the form of Avalkishtra. The Bodhisattva made of basalt stone and claimed to be at the time of Pala periods.
The Jain figure is although not clear the date, the head style is similar like the figurines made in the Gupta and post Gupta periods, but the Stella and stone is like the figure of Pala period, so it may be placed in the late historical period, claimed the team leader, Arabindo Singha Roy.
Roy further pointed out that the emblame, the animals on the base of the figure though is not clear mainly due to vermilion used by the villagers to worship, it may appear like a goat or deer. But the appearance of the animal is more resemble a goat than a deer, he said. He claimed the figure may be of the 16 th Tirthankara of Jains, Santhinath if the animal is deer or may be the 17 th Tirthankara, Kunthunatha if the animal is deer, he said.
Apart from that the recovery of 2000 year old broken terracotta figures from Goradih block in Bhagalpur recently on April 23 was indeed very important for the team. Roy told that same type of figures have been earlier found Chandraketugarh, Tamluk, Bengal also which are made of Sunga period.
According to him the directorate of archaeology, government of Bihar have taken an initiative to accumulate all the tangible past cultural heritage in the district and studied the remains systematically to reconstruct the history and archaeology of the district.
The director, Atul Kumar Varma, had applied for a license for conducting a details the survey through the district and concerning the potentiality of the cultural heritage of Bhagalpur, the Archaeological Survey of India have given a permission only for the district Bhagalpur for this time in Bihar.
“So, we are here on the behalf of the directorate of archaeology to deliver, maintain and conduct the work,” he pointed out. He further told that basically in the first half and the last half of the nineteenth century are the points to be focused. Taking the guidance from the reports of Buccanan Hamiltan, Alexander Cunningham, J.D. Beglar, etc the team has started demarcating the location of some of the sites and it also helps to generate an idea about the ancient geography of this district, he mentioned further.
Some recent publications like the book of Ajoy Kumar Sinha, P.C. Roy Chaudhary, Joti Chand Sharma, Abhaya Kant Chaudhary, report of the ASI and a few sporadic articles also helped the team to accumulate ideas about the history of the region and the rich material culture, Roy said.
After accumulated all the information from the available literatures the team has sta
ted for details survey. In the course of the work, the team already started visiting the places having archaeological or historical significance and tried to understand the trend of the cultural consequences.
Images of the Geological Survey of America and Bhuvan, topographical maps of the Survey of India and aerial photographs are very helpful before the team to mark a probable trend of the ancient settlement system in this district. And finally the team has taken the recent system of survey, village to village survey.
In the course of the survey, the team members use to note all the findings carefully which are basically the material cultures. The materials cultures are the only way based on which an archeologist would link up all the places in the line of the development of the ancient settlement system.
“It’s very important for us to concentrate on culture, culture is basically the art and the other manifestation of human intellectual achievement regards collectively, i.e., the Idea, customs, rituals, and other social behaviours of a particular people or society. And secondly we have to find out the materials cultural remains, ie ,the culture which is embedded in the materials,” he pointed out.
During the time of survey the team has to trace out the culture materials and also have tried to trace out the history embedded in these materials like stone tools, potsherds, mound and the structural remains, iconographic figures, terracotta objects, rock art in form of relies, rock art in form of engraving, inscriptions etc.
The team has found a small numbers of tools made of stone from the upper surface on the foothills of some of the hills. “We are fortune enough that still we have faced a lot of Iconography figurines (a visual images and symbols used in a work of art or we may called it as a symbolic representation through a morphometric from of the human creatures and thoughts) scatters in the rural area of the Bhagalpur district,” he revealed.
He further said that this region once had a rich tradition as well as skill of the rock art relief along with Petroglyphs, a form of rock art, are the images created by removing part of a rock surface by incising, picking, carving or abrading.
Though Petroglyphs are found worldwide and are often associated with prehistoric people but in the case of the Bhagalpur, the team have discovered, which are found in a different contexts.
Besides, the team also have discovered a few epigraphically evidences, epigraphy is a study of inscriptions or writings. It is a scientific way to identify graphemes and clarifying their meanings as well as classifying their uses according to their date and cultural context.
The calligraphy, writing style, is more or less enough for a palaeographers to uncover the date of the script and meaning of the word.
Roy claimed that the team now has a proper idea about the evolutionary perspective of the ancient settlement system of the district Bhagalpur.
“Though, so far, we have managed a little time to analyzed the cultural remains properly, but from the representation we could postulate that this region once was inhabited by the prehistoric people, stone tools reflect that and than continuously used by the Protohistory people, remains of the potsherds indicate it, after that it had been used by the historical people and also in the time of early medieval period – the epigraphy, rock reliefs, and engravings tell that,” he observed.
Raman Sinha, a senior teacher in the faculty of history in Tilka Manjhi Bhagalpur University while echoing Roy said that in the time of early history the people of this region had adopted the knowledge of creativity. “The stone reliefs, carvings, iconographic figures which are found by the team, is the history of Bhagalpur and enough to established the quality skill, artistic activities and thought of the ancient inhabitants of Bhagalpur,” Sinha said.