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Meet Nitish the archaeologist

Statues and idols from the Pala period found around the mound. Telegraph picture

Patna: Chief minister Nitish Kumar seems to have stumbled upon a mound that has yielded antiquities, perhaps, dating back to 1000 BC.

The mound at Dih Pharfar village in Ariyari block of Sheikhpura district caught the chief minister's eye on Friday when he was there on his Vikas Karyon ki Samiksha Yatra to take stock of development work carried out by his government.

"The chief minister has a very sharp eye when it comes to archaeology," an official who was with Nitish told The Telegraph. "Observing the dimensions of the mound, he immediately thought it could be of importance and asked chief secretary Anjani Kumar Singh to contact KP Jayaswal Research Institute and Bihar Heritage Development Society and other institutions to check if the mound had been catalogued and explored, and to get it probed by archaeologists."

The research institute records showed its researchers had visited the area and reported sculptures of Lord Vishnu and Lord Buddha made of black basalt stone. They were in fragments and belonged to the Pala period (8th to 12th century AD).

A team of archaeologists from the heritage development society, under the leadership of its executive director Bijoy Kumar Choudhary, rushed to probe the mound on Saturday. "As an expert, I can vouch that the antiquity of the mound is of at least 1000 BC," Choudhary said. "We have found potsherds of 'black slipped ware' and 'black and red ware' during preliminary exploration, the basis for the date. Though these could date back to anything from 1500 BC to 1200 BC, the date of 1000 BC is being given on the basis of their lustre and fabric. We also discovered 'burnished red ware', prevalent during the Neolithic period. On this basis we are assuming the site was settled at that time as well." He said the site could well be of the Neolithic age, stretching back to 2500 BC or earlier.

"We have just done a preliminary exploration," Choudhary said. "A full-fledged exploration is on the cards. The find is a very important one and could impact history of the area and the state. We may also seek licence from central agencies to excavate it."

The archaeologists touted it as one of the most important discoveries in Bihar's history this year.

Bihar has got just a handful of sites that date back to the Neolithic period. These include Chirand, Chechar, Panr, Sonepur (Gaya district) and Taradih.

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