Pune, March 27: FILLING the gaps in history is probably one of the most exciting aspects of archaeology. And doing just this are the finds of two professors from Deccan Collegeâ€™s department of archaeology. While one unearths archaeological evidence of trade links between India and Rome & eastern Africa, the other sheds light on climatic changes between 300 BC and 6 century AD.
While professor Bhaskar Deotare has discovered what could be the earliest stupa with habitation in Maharashtra, professor Vishwas Gogte has found archaeological evidences of trade between the western coast of India and the Roman Empire and the east coast of Africa, dating back nearly 2,000 years. Both plan to publish their findings at the national level.
Gogte â€” working on trade links between India and other countries for many years now â€” has discovered four ancient sites mentioned in Periplus Of The Erythraen Sea, a journal of a Greek trader. The journal mentions Chaul, Palshet, Mandad and Dahanu as important port sites on the coast of Western Maharashtra. These sites fall in Raigad, Thane, Guhagar and Ratnagiri respectively. â€˜â€˜Though literary evidence was always present, this is the first time that an archaeological reference has come to light,â€™â€™ says Gogte. He adds that the earliest evidence of trade from Chaul to Rome dates back to 300 BC, during the Mauryan Empire.
Evidences suggest that items like cotton, rice, wood, iron and spices were exported from India to Rome. While Gogte was working along the western coast of Maharashtra, a friend was working in Mtwapa on the east coast of Africa. Both found beads which, on being tested at Chicago, turned out to be identical. â€˜â€˜We realised the possibility that beads must have been exported from India to the east coast of Africa,â€™â€™ says Gogte. There were evidences which also suggested that these Indo-Pacific beads, as they are now called, were produced in Chaul and exported to countries like Mozambique between 200 and 1600 BC.
Professor Bhaskar Deotare, on the other hand, was excavating remains of an ancient stupa along the right bank of the Purna in Buldhana district. Though excavations began four years ago, he chanced upon concrete findings only last month. â€˜â€˜The site is the biggest and earliest one in the State and covers 10 to 12 hectares. This is also the earliest evidence of a stupa with habitation in Maharashtra. Usually standalone settlements or stupas are found.â€™â€™
The stupa, constructed in brick, has several ring wells surrounding it. Other artefacts like terracota beads, carnelium rings, roof tiles and uninscribed copper coins indicate that this was a rich urban settlement. Deotare is trying to find out why the habitation, which dates back 300 BC, came to an abrupt end in second century AD.
â€˜â€˜When people lived here, the climate was favourable and rice was cultivated here. We then see smaller settlements in nearby areas from sixth century AD, where jowar was the primary crop. Thus, there was a deterioration in climate,â€™â€™ he explains. These findings also fill the gap between the Mauryan and the Satavahana period.