| The mausoleum of Sufi saint Makhdum Daulat in Maner. Picture by Deepak Kumar |
Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) would start excavation at Maner, the hot spot of Sufi tourism in the state, from the first week of January.
Archaeologists believe that artefacts belonging to the Neolithic Age (3,000 BC to 1500 BC) to Pal period (8th century to 12th century) could be found during the one-and-a-half-month-long excavation at Maner, around 25km on Danapur-Daltonganj road west of Patna.
“Headed by Arvin Manjul, the excavation branch of the ASI (Patna circle) would start excavation at Maner from the first week of January. The plan is to do carbon dating of the remains of human settlement ranging from the Neolithitc Age to the Pal period. Maner is supposed to have the largest deposit of the remains, mainly stone tools belonging to the Neolithic period,” S.K. Manjul, the superintending archaeologist of ASI (Patna circle), told The Telegraph on Tuesday.
Arvin, the superintending archaeologist, excavation branch, ASI (Patna circle), said: “Though several excavations have been carried out at Maner by Patna University between 1989 and 1998, scientific dating of the excavated objects has never been done. We will carry out scientific studies using techniques like carbon dating and paleobotanical methods on the samples. Since Maner is thickly populated, we would excavate at two or three places. It will continue till we find the natural soil layer, as it gives evidence of earliest civilisations.”
Though human settlement has been found at Maner across ages, the place assumes greater significance in the Sufi circuit. It is the place where Sufi saint Makhdum Daulat died in 1608. It is in the memory of Daulat that Ibrahim Khan, the Mughal governor of Bihar under Jahangir, completed construction of the saint’s mausoleum in 1616. The mausoleum is now known as Maner Shariff.
On the significance of Maner, K.P. Jayaswal Research Institute director Vijay Kumar Chaudhary said: “Evidence of continuous human settlement have been found at Maner from the pre-historic to late medieval periods. Maner could be the suburban town of the erstwhile Patliputra. Many believe that Maner was one of the first places in Bihar to be hit by the Muslim invasion during the medieval period. Later, it achieved further significance in the Sufi circuit.”