The “first ever” physical evidence of chariots dating 2000 BC – 1800 BC have been found by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) during a trial excavation in Sanauli village near Baghpat here.
|Director SK Manjul from ASI showing the chariot from the excavation site
at Sanauli in Uttar Pradesh [Credit: News18]
Decorated with copper motifs, the findings of the Copper-Bronze age have opened up further research opportunities into the area’s civilisation and culture.
The three-month long excavation, which started in March this year, has unearthed eight burial sites and several artifacts including three coffins, antenna swords, daggers, combs, and ornaments, among others.
The three chariots found in the burial pits could remind one of the familiar images of horse-drawn carriages from mythological television shows.
|Coffin burial found at one of the ‘royal burial’ sites [Credit: NDTV]
The relics suggest the existence of a two-wheeled open vehicle that may have been driven by one person.
“The wheels rotated on a fixed axle linked by a draft pole to the yoke of a pair of animals. The axle was attached with a superstructure consisting of a platform protected by side-screens and a high dashboard,” S K Manjul, director of Delhi-based Institute of Archaeology, said.
The wheels and the pole have been found decorated with copper triangles, symbolic of the rays of the sun.
|The swords and daggers are said to confirm the existence of a warrior population [Credit: NDTV]
Manjul termed the digging drive a “path-breaking” one, also because of the copper plated anthropomorphic figures — having horns and peepal-leafed crowns — found on the coffins, that indicated a possiblity of “royal burials”.
“For the first time in the entire sub-continent we have found this kind of a coffin. The cover is highly decorated with eight anthropomorphic figures. The sides of the coffins are also decorated with floral motifs,” Manjul said.
While coffins have been discovered during past excavations in Harappa, Mohenjo-daro and Dholavira (Gujarat), but never with copper decorations, he added.
|Ceramic vase found at the site [Credit: NDTV]
The findings also shed light on the noteworthy progress the Indian civilsation had made at the time, making it at par with the 2000 BC Mesopotamia.
“We are now certain that when in 2000 BC, the Mesopotamians were using chariots, swords, and helmets in wars, we also had similar things.”
The swords, daggers, shields and a helmet confirmed the existence of a warrior population, and the discovery of earthen and copper pots, semi-precious and steatite beads, combs, and a copper mirror from the burial pits point towards a “sophisticated” craftsmanship and lifestyle.
|Comb found at the site [Credit: NDTV]
“It is confirmed that they were a warrior class. The swords have copper-covered hilts and a medial ridge making it strong enough for warfare. We have also found shields, a torch and daggers,” the archaeologist said.
The current site lies 120 meters from an earlier one in the village, excavated in 2005, where 116 burials were found along with antenna swords and pottery.
While it was difficult to ascertain the exact race of the latest buried remains, Manjul asserted that the chariots and coffins did not belong to the Harappan civilisation.
“The findings of the 2005 excavation — pottery, beads and other cultural material — were similar to those of the Harappan civilisation.”
Manjul said the similarities could have been an outcome of the migration of the Harappans to the Yamuna and the upper planes during the late mature Harappan era.
However, the recent findings were “completely different” from the ancient civilisation.