LAHORE, May 7: The discovery of rare objects during an excavation expedition in Cholistan desert by local and foreign archaeologists have raised hopes of presence of ruins identical to that of Mohenjodaro and Harappa.
A rare seal of copper, a terracotta block, three wedge-shaped bricks, pottery with distinct potter marks and four unicorns (a mythical animal) were dug out from the dried-out channel of the Hakra river by a team of archaeologists from Wisconsin, USA; and Research Institute of Humanities and Nature, Tokyo. Punjab University Archaeology Department Chairman Dr Farzand Masih is leading the team.
The university has been given Cholistan exploration licence by the government.
Dr Masih while talking to Dawn called the discovery of the rare seal of copper which, according to him, dates back to 2000-2500 BC, a success and added that the study of the seal would hopefully reveal interesting features.
He said the seal had perforated boss in the back.
“This is the first time that a copper seal has been found in Cholistan, whereas the earlier explorers Aurel Stein and Dr Rafique Mughal could not find any such seal throughout their combing of Cholistan in 1925 and 1974-77,” said Dr Masih.
He said a number of archaeological mounds in the area revealed matured phase of the Harappan culture. The mound of Ganwariwala, which is 34 kms south west of the Derawar Fort, was replete with potsherds showing striking affinities with the pottery known from the various Indus Valley sites.
From the same area, Dr Masih said, a terracotta tablet with three pictographs on one side and a yogi on the other side made the entire complex very interesting from iconographical point of view.
He said the excavations done at Mohenjodaro and Harappa had revealed a steatite seal showing the yogi and the pictographs.
Dr Masih said the mound had burnt bits of bricks showing the industrial activities of the inhabitants of this once flourished city.
He said the mound was at equidistant from Mohenjodaro and Kot Diji portraying its commercial importance.
“It seems that the commercial commodities used to be transported between Mohenjodaro and other cities through this midway city,” he said.
The mound, which is smaller in size to that of Harappa mound, shows the architectural pattern to that of Mohenjodaro. It comprises of two mounds designated as A and B. He said the mound A was 92 meters above the sea level and consisting of wider areas showing its northern and southern fringes strewn with pottery and other artefacts of the Indus Valley dating 2500 to 1500 BC. The mound B was about 125 meters east of mound A and 94 meters above the sea level and seemed to have buried the ruins of either a religious edifice or a building of secular nature.
Dr Masih said the mound might had the ruins of a building associated with their religion or may be of a ritual nature. He said the people of ancient Mespotamia, which were contemporary to Indus people, used to have ziggurat to enshrine the gods and goddesses that they worship.
Stating that the non-existence of any religious building at the principal cities of Mohenjodaro and Harappa had led archaeologists to believe that their worshiping places were located at some unknown places, Dr Masih said the high mound when become subjective to excavator’s spade might reveal the structures of some religious building.
He said the presumption was based on the findings of wedge-shaped bricks used for the construction of the wells, which were already noticed at the remains of SD area at Mohenjodaro.
Dr Masih said another important find picked up from the surface included the pottery with distinct potter marks showing horizontal lines in pair and some times three and four.
He said these pottery pieces indicated the significance of vassals, which were normally used for ritual ceremonies. He said the contours of the mound showed the block of the houses running parallel to each other with open space in between. He said the depression thus caused might be the open areas or the streets.
He said the streets appeared to be cutting each other on right angles, which were the reminiscent of the Harappan architectural features.
“This is a just conjecture based on topographic studies and subject to its confirmation during the course of regular scientific excavations,” he said.
Dr Masih also said that the mound A, which was comparatively lower than the mound B, displayed the concentration of cultural activities on its northern and southern sides.
He said the contours of the area showed the identical mounds to that of area B. He said the excavator’s spade might reveal the structural remains similar to that of DK area of Mohenjodaro. He said these suppositions had been drawn on the basis of the existing position of the mounds. He also said the rainwater of the last so many centuries had made fissures on the places, which had either no structural remains or the depressions of a street, lane or by lane.
Dr Masih said the pottery pieces had thick fabric with black painting on red ground. He said a few pottery pieces showed yellowish slip and of medium texture. The pottery pieces with roundel designs are of special interest. In all, the pottery pieces portrayed the mounds at Ganwariwala were contemporary to that of Harappan settlements.
He said four unicorns were slightly different from unicorns earlier found in Harappa.
Unfortunately, he said, the site of Ganwariwala was subjected to human vandalism and a thoroughfare of four meter wide had been made while damaging the upper portion of the mounds — more than one meter in height and 150 meters in length. He said the clandestine diggings had provided ready-made section to ascertain the last activity at the site before its abandonment. He said the section showed a huge wall of 3.70 meters in width and running south north direction had been of paramount archaeological importance.
“Further digging might prove the style of houses erected during the dwindling phases of this city,” he said.
In order to make a full-fledged excavation during the early winter of this year, Dr Masih said all preliminaries including the grid and the contour plans had been prepared.