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Tryst with Mesolithic past

- Aurangabad excavations date back to middle age, plans afoot at site for next five years

Patna, Aug. 24: Recent excavations at Kutumba village of Aurangabad have thrown up evidence of Mesolithic dwellings around 10,000 to 12,000 years back.

Bijoy Kumar Chaudhary, the executive director of Bihar Heritage Development Society, a wing of the art, culture and youth affairs department, said: “Archaeological works in Bihar were rare.”

Society co-director D.P. Sinha was assisted by members Priyanka Chandra and Shankar Jaykishan in the discovery. “Most of the pre-historic sites fall in Jharkhand now. Archaeological works in Bihar were rare. In such a situation, discovering a pre-historic site dating back to the middle stone age is interesting,” Chaudhary said.

According to him, the society plans to work at the site for the next five years, and added that it is for the first time in the history of Bihar that excavations have led to findings from Mesolithic history.

The diggings were carried out at three sites — Kutumba (KTB) I, KTB II and KTB III, around 130km south of Patna.

Chaudhary said: “KTB I lies in Kutumba village, KTB II in Mirzapur village and KTB III is in an inner fortified area of Kutumba village. Kutumba Fort is located between Kutumba and Mirzapur. The fortification has two gates, one in the north and the other in the east and bastions on four corners, which seem to belong to 1st century BC and 1st century AD.”

Three different cultural phases were the findings of the excavations.

“The first starts from the Mesolithic and goes until the Neolithic period. The second phase is the early historic period starting from 6th century to 2nd century BC. And the third phase is from 3rd century AD to 6th century AD.

The lowermost level at fort site KTB III comprises yellowish brown loose earth, ceramic deposit containing tools about 150 in number. These tools include blades, burins, borers, awls, lunates and others. The stones generally used to fashion the tools were nodules of chalcedony and a few of agate, quartz, jasper and others.

Not only were the Mesolithic people living here, the ground was used for the preparation of tools, as evidence was found of some places being burnt and red in colour with bits of charcoal scattered on the ground, Chaudhary said.

The society also has other activities lined up, he said.

Chaudhary said Bihar Heritage Development Society would build sculpture sheds in these villages to protect and preserve the sculptures.