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Nature of Sources and Historical Constructions of Ancient India (Part-2)

Coins:

While a substantial number of coins and inscriptions have been discovered on the surface, exploration has uncovered all of them. Numismatics is called the study of coins. And so is the case today, the ancient Indian currency was not distributed as paper but as metal coins. Coin castings made from burnt clay have been found in huge amounts. Most of them refer to the Kushan period, that would be to say, the first three centuries of Christianity. The use of such molding practically vanished in the post-Gupta period.

Four sets of Gold Coins of Vima Kadphises ( Image source )

Since there was nothing like the current financial system in ancient times, people held money in porcelain and even in brass pots, and kept it as valuable hoards from which they could fall back in case of need.

In various parts of India, several of these hoards have been found, containing not only Indian coins but also those minted abroad, such as in the Roman empire.

As Britain has ruled over India for a long time, British authorities have persisted in transferring much of the Indian coins to private and public reserves in Britain.

We have catalogs of coins at the Calcutta Indian Museum, Indian coins at the London British Museum, and so on. A significant number of coins have yet to be cataloged and issued.

Our initial coins depict a few symbols, but later coins represent the portraits of kings and gods, as well as their names and dates. The places where they are located reflect the field in which they exist.

These have helped us to recreate the heritage of many ruling dynasties, especially the Indo-Greeks who, in the second and first centuries BC, migrated from northern Afghanistan to India and ruled here.

Since coins have been used for various reasons, such as presents, a means of payment, and a mode of trade, economic history is given tremendous light. With the approval of the kings, several coins were produced by guild members of merchants and goldsmiths.

It demonstrates that crafts and trade have become significant. On a broad scale, coins facilitated exchanges and led to commerce.

The post-Maurya period presents a significant number of Indian coins. They were made of lead, pot, copper, bronze, gold, and silver. The greatest number of gold coins were issued by the Guptas.

Silver Punch-marked Coin (PMC) of the period of Ashoka, The great Mauryan Emperor of ancient India ( Image source )

All this suggests that trade and exchange, particularly in the post-Maurya period and a good part of the Gupta period, flourished. Just a few coins belonging to the post-Gupta period, however, have been discovered, suggesting a drop in trade and trade during that period.

Coins also represent kings and gods and have divine icons and stories, both of which shed light on the period’s art and faith. While their bargaining power was poor, cows were often used as coins. In post-Gupta periods, they appear in large statistics but may have been used earlier.

Inscriptions:

Carvings are much more crucial than coins. Their analysis is called epigraphy, and paleography is the study of ancient writing used in inscriptions and other old documents. Seals, stone blocks, rocks, copperplates, temple walls, wooden tablets, and bricks or pictures were decorated with inscriptions.

The earliest inscriptions have been documented on a stone in India as a whole. Copperplate, however, started to be used for this purpose in the early centuries of the Christian period. The tradition of engraving inscriptions on stone persisted in South India on a wide scale even then.

We also have a significant number of inscriptions documented on the walls of temples in that area to act as permanent documents.

Inscriptions are held in different museums in the region, like coins, but the greatest number can be found in the office of the chief epigraphist in Mysore. In the third century BC, in Prakrit, the earliest inscriptions were written.

In the second century AD, Sanskrit was introduced as an epigraphic medium and its use in the fourth and fifth centuries became popular, but Prakrit continued to be used even then. In the ninth and tenth centuries, inscriptions continued to be written in regional languages.

Except for the north-western part, the Brahmi script prevailed practically throughout India. In writing Ashokan inscriptions in Pakistan and Afghanistan, Greek and Aramaic scripts were used, but Brahmi remained the dominant script until the end of the Gupta period.

Pillar Edict in Brahmi Script, Lumbini. ( Image Source )

If he has mastered Brahmi and its variants, an epigraphist will decode most Indian inscriptions up to around the seventh century, but then, in this language, we find strong regional variations.

Some scholars regard inscriptions found on the seals of Harappa belonging to around 2500 BC as symbolic. The oldest deciphered inscriptions in the history of India are Iranian.

They are found in Iran and belong to the sixth-fifth century BC. In the cuneiform script, they appear in Old-Lndo-Iranian and also in Semitic languages. They talk of the Hindu or Sindhu area’s Iranian conquest. The oldest deciphered ones are, of course, Ashokan inscriptions in India.

They are usually written in the third century BC in the Brahmi script and Prakrit language. They shed light on the history of Maurya and the contributions of Ashoka.

Firoz Shah Tughlaq discovered two Ashokan pillar inscriptions in the fourteenth century, one in Meerut and another in a location called Topra in Haryana. He took them to Delhi and asked his empire’s pandits to decode the inscriptions, but they were unable to do so.

The British encountered the same challenge when they found Ashokan inscriptions in the last quarter of the eighteenth century. James Prinsep, a civil servant working for the East India Company in Bengal, first deciphered these epigraphs in 1837.

We do have different forms of inscriptions. Some transmit royal orders and decisions to officials and the people in general concerning social, religious, and administrative matters. In this group, Ashokan inscriptions belong. Some are votive accounts of Buddhism’s adherents, Jainism, Vaishnavism, Shaivism, etc.

They appear as signs of devotion on pillars, tablets, temples, or pictures. Yet other forms praise the characteristics and accomplishments of kings and conquerors and ignore their defeats or weaknesses. The Allahabad Pillar inscription of Samudragupta belongs to this group.

Finally, we have a lot of donation records which refer in particular to gifts of money, livestock, land, etc., mainly for religious purposes, made not only by kings and princes but also by craftsmen and merchants.

For the study of the land system and administration in ancient India, inscriptions documenting land grants, made principally by chiefs and princes, are very significant. These were engraved mainly on copperplates.

They document grants made to monks, priests, churches, monasteries, vassals, and officials for land, taxes, and villages. They have been written in all languages, including Prakrit, Sanskrit, Tamil and Telugu.

Nature of Sources and Historical Constructions of Ancient India (Part-1)

Material Remains

Archaeology methods help us recover the material remains of the past relating to our history’s of ancient, mediaeval, and modern periods. Archaeology is used in India and many other countries to study prehistory and ancient history. The period for which there are no written sources is concerned with prehistory, and history is essentially based on written material.

In several ways, prehistoric sites differ from historical sites.They are generally not in the form of prominent remains of habitation, but primarily fossils of human, plant, and animal. They are found on the hillsides of the plateaus and the mountains, and on the banks of nearby rivers with terraces, and they are composed of sundry fauna and flora.More pertinently, at these sites, numerous stone tools from the Stone Age have been found. The remains of pre-ice-age instruments, plants, animals, and humans indicate the climatic conditions that prevailed at the time.

Though writing was identified in India in the Indus culture by the middle of the third millennium BC, it has not been deciphered so far. Thus, while the Harappans knew how to write, the proto-historical phase is put in their culture. The same is the case with cultures of the Chalcolithic or copper-Stone Age that had no writing.

With the Ashokan inscriptions providing solid evidence for historical reconstruction from that time, decipherable writing was only known in India in the third century Bc. However, archaeology remains a very important source for historians, despite the critical use of Vedic and post-Vedic literary sources for history in pre-Ashokan times.

The ancient Indians left countless traces of material. To remind us of the great building activities of the past, the stone temples in South India and the brick monasteries in East India are still standing. The majority of these remains, however, lie buried in mounds spread all over India. (A mound is a raised portion of land that occupies the traces of old residences.) They may be of various kinds: single-culture, major-culture, multi-culture.

Single-culture mounds represent only one entire culture. Some mounds represent only the culture of the Painted Grey Ware (PGW), others the culture of Satavahana, and yet others that of the Kushans. One culture is dominant in major-culture mounds, and the others are of secondary significance. Multi-culture mounds in sequence reflect many major cultures that sometimes overlap with each other. An excavated mound can be used to explain successive layers of material and other facets of a culture, as is the case with the Ramayana and Mahabharata.

It is possible to excavate a mound vertically or horizontally. Vertical excavation involves digging lengthwise to reveal the series of cultures in the period; it is normally limited to a portion of the site. Horizontal drilling involves digging the mound as a whole or a large portion of it.

The method can allow the excavator in a specific time to obtain a full idea of the culture of the site. Since most sites have been dug vertically, they provide a strong sequence of material culture in chronology. Horizontal diggings, being very costly, are very few in number, with the consequence that in many phases of ancient Indian history the excavations do not give us a complete or even sufficient image of material life.

Panorama of Persepolis ruins ( Image source )

The ancient ruins have been found in various proportion, including in certain mounds that were excavated. Antiques are found in a better state of preservation in the dry arid climate of western UP, Rajasthan, and north-western India, but even iron tools have undergone corrosion in the wet and humid climate of the mid-Gangetic plains and in the deltaic areas, and mud structures are difficult to detect. Well preserved are only the burned brick structures or stone structures of the Gangetic plains.

The villages that people founded in Baluchistan around 6000 BC have been brought to light by excavations. They also tell us about the material culture that in the second millennium BC was established in the Gangetic plains. They demonstrate the architecture of the villages in which people lived, the kinds of pottery they used, the kind of house they lived in, the kinds of cereals they cooked, and the kinds of instruments and equipment they used.

Some people in South India, along with the dead, buried their instruments, weapons, pottery, and other belongings in graves, and they were surrounded by large pieces of stone. Although certain megaliths do not fall under this group, these objects are considered megaliths. By digging them, we hear about the life that people from the Iron Age onward led in the Deccan. Archaeology is the science that allows one to systematically dig the successive layers of old mounds, and to form an understanding of people’s material existence.

By different methods, their dates are set. Radiocarbon dating is the most relevant of them. A radioactive carbon (isotope) that is found in all living things is radiocarbon or Carbon 14 (C14). It decays at a consistent rate, as do all radioactive material. The mechanism of decay of C14 is neutralised by absorption of C14 by air and food while an object is alive.

However, the C14 content begins to degrade at a uniform rate when an object ceases to be alive, but ceases to absorb C14 from air and food. Its age can be determined by calculating the loss of C14 content in an ancient material. This is because the decay of C14 takes place at a uniform rate, as described earlier. It is understood that C14’s half-life is 5568 years.

The radioactive material’s half-life is characterised as the time during which half of the radioactive substance in the object disappears. Thus, in an object that stopped living 5568 years ago, the C14 content would be half of what it was when it was living, and in an object that stopped living 11,136 years ago, its C14 content would be one-fourth of what it was when it was living. But by this process, no antiquity older than 70,000 years can be dated.

The history of climate and vegetation is understood by the study of plant residues and, in particular, by the analysis of pollen. On this basis, it is proposed that agriculture was practised between 7000-6000 BC in Rajasthan and Kashmir. The origin and components of metal objects are scientifically studied, and the mines from which the metals were collected are then located and the phases of metal scientific discipline are established. An inspection of animal bones indicates whether the animals have been domesticated and also shows the uses they have been used for.

We might add that archaeology offers a kind of archive of soil containing different remains of material. However, it is important to get an understanding of the history of the soil, rocks, etc. for a complete analysis of prehistory extending roughly up to 3000 BC or so. Geological studies include that. Additionally, the world of plants and animals continues to evolve, though at a slow pace.

Biological studies have their context. human history can not be understood Without an understanding of the continuing interaction between soil, plants, and animals, on the one hand, and humans, on the other. Geological and biological advances help us not only to understand prehistory, but also to understand history. Geological and biological research, taken together with geological remains, serve as significant sources for the study of over 98 percent of the overall time scale of history, beginning with the earth’s origin.


What is the importance of ancient Indian history to contemporary India?

For many reasons, the study of ancient Indian history is important. It tells us how, when and where the earliest cultures in our country were formed by people. It shows how they started agriculture, which made life healthy and settled.

It explains how natural resources were found and used by the ancient Indians, and how they provided the means for their livelihood. We come to know how they were involved in farming, spinning, weaving, metal-working, and so on; how forests were cleared; and how villages, cities, and, finally, major kingdoms were created.

Until they understand writing, people are not considered civilized. The various forms of writing that are prevalent in India today are all derived from ancient scripts. This is true of the languages we speak today, as well. The languages we use have their origins in ancient times, and have grown through the centuries.

Unity in Diversity

It is interesting to have ancient Indian history because India proved to be a crucible of ethnic groups. India was the home of the Indo-Aryans, the Greeks,pre-Aryans, the Scythians, the Hunas, the Turks, etc. The growth of the Indian social system, art and architecture, and literature all led to each ethnic group. All these communities and their cultural features mixed with one another so inextricably that none of them can be clearly defined in their original form at present.

The combining of cultural elements from the north and south, and from the east and west, was a remarkable characteristic of ancient Indian society. The Aryan elements are related to the northern Vedic and Sanskritic culture, and the pre-Aryan to the southern Dravidian and Tamil culture. But in the Vedic texts ascribed to 1500-500 B.c., many Dravidian and non-Sanskritic terms occur.

Ideas, structures, goods and settlements linked to peninsular and non-Vedic India are described. Similarly, in the early Tamil texts called the Sangam literature, which is nearly used for the period 300 B.C.-600 A.D., many Pali and Sanskrit terms indicating ideas and institutions developed in the Gangetic plains.

Its own contribution was created by the eastern region inhabited by pre-Aryan tribals. The people of the area spoke the languages of Munda or Kolari. In IndoAryan languages are traced by linguists to the Munda languages, several terms that imply the use of cotton, navigation, digging stick, etc.. The traces of the Munda culture are not as strong as those of the Dravidian culture. While the Chhotanagpur plateau contains many Munda pockets.

In the Indo-Aryan languages most Dravidian words are also used. It is held that on the basis of the Dravidian influence, shifts in the phonetics and vocabulary of the Vedic language can be clarified as well as that of the Munda influence. India has been the land of many religions since ancient times.

The birth of Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism was witnessed in ancient India; but all these religions and cultures intermingled and acted and responded to each other in such a way that while people speak different languages, practice different religions, and observe different social customs, they follow certain common lifestyles throughout the country.

Because of great diversity, our nation displays a deep underlying unity. The ancients strove to achieve unity. They saw this vast subcontinent as one single land. After the name of an ancient tribe called the Bharatas, the name Bharatavarsha, or the land of Bharata, was given to the entire country, and the people were called Bharatasantati or the descendants of Bharata.

The nation was regarded as an integral entity by our ancient poets, philosophers and authors. They spoke of the land extending from the Himalayas to the sea as a single universal monarch’s proper domain.

The Kings who tried to build their authority from the Himalayas to Cape Comorin and from the Brahmaputra valley in the east to the land beyond the Indus in the west were universally lauded. They have been called Chakravartins.

In ancient times, this type of political unity was achieved at least twice. In the Third Century B.C. With the exception of the extreme south, Ashoka extended his empire over the entire country. Once more, in the fourth century A.D. From the Ganga to the borders of the Tamil land, Samudragupta carried his victorious arms. A Chalukya king in the seventh century. Harshavardhana, who was called the lord of all of northern India, was defeated by Pulakeshin.

King Ashoka ( Image source )

Despite the lack of political unity, the political formations in the country took more or less the same shape. The concept that India was a single regional unit existed in the minds of the conquerors and cultural leaders. The unity of India has also been re-established by foreigners.

They came into contact first with the people living on the Sindhu or the Indus, and so they named this river for the whole country. The word Hind comes from the Sanskrit word Sindhu, and over the time country came to be known as India , which is very close to the Greek word for it. In the Persian and Arabic languages, it came to be called Hind.’

In the third century, B.C, Prakrit acted as the country’s lingua franca. Ashoka’s inscriptions were written in the Prakrit language and Brahmi script in the major portion of India.

Sanskrit later acquired the same place and acted in the most remote parts of the country as the language of the country. In the fourth century A.D., the method became prevalent in the Gupta period.

While the country experienced various small states politically in the post-Gupta period, the official documents were written in Sanskrit. Another interesting aspect is that in the land of the Tamils, the ancient epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, were studied with the same passion and dedication as in the scholarly circles of the Banaras and Taxila.

These epics, originally written in Sanskrit, came to be presented in numerous local languages. But whatever the manner in which Indian cultural values and ideas were articulated, across the country, the content remained the same.

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Because of a peculiar form of social structure established in this region, Indian history deserves our attention. The varna/caste system originated in north India, which came to prevail almost all over the country. The caste system affected Christians and Muslims as well. The converts belonged to a certain caste, and they continued to retain some of their old caste traditions even though they left Hinduism to join the new religion.

The bewildering 15th century AD fort of Kumbhalgarh

The bewildering 15th century AD fort of Kumbhalgarh

DESCRIPTION

Kumbhalgarh is one of the most splendid fortresses in Rajasthan and the second most crucial fort after Chittorgarh in the Mewar region.

The boundary walls of Kumbhalgarh fort. ( Image source )

This unquenchable fortress is guarded under the protection of the Aravali mountains.

It was constructed in the Aravali Ranges during 1443-1458 AD, (15th century AD) by Rana Kumbha and hence takes its name from the same.

The fort has also been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site as one of the Rajasthan Hill Forts group.

The fort is also considered to be Maharana Pratap’s birthplace.

HISTORY

Curled up on the western hills of Aravali Ranges, the fort was established by Rana Kumbha in the 15th century A. Kumbhalgarh in its present structure was constructed by Rana Kumbha who was the Rana of Mewar from the Sisodia Rajput family.

Kumbhalgarh Fort , Rajasthan. ( Image source )

Rana Kumbha took the guide of the celebrated architect of the period, “Madan”. Rana Kumbha’s realm of Mewar extended from Ranthambore to Gwalior and occupied huge expanses of what is currently Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Rana Kumbha is also said to have established 32 out of the 84 forts in his jurisdiction, of which Kumbhalgarh is the greatest and most intricate.

In 1457, Ahmed Shah I of Gujarat attacked the fortress but found the attempt unsuccessful. There was even a popular belief that is was guarded by the Banmata deity in the fort and thus he demolished the temple.

Shiva temple inside Kumbhalgarh Fort. ( Image source )

Further attempts were made by Mahmud Khalji in 1458-59 and 1467, and they also ultimately failed. In 1576, Akbar’s general, Shahbaz Khan, was thought to have taken charge of the fort. But Maharana Pratap recaptured it in 1585.

An armed group of Sannyasins assembled a battalion in 1818 to safeguard the fort, but Tod persuaded them all, and indeed the fort was seized over by the British and later restored back to the state of Udaipur.

There were improvements made regarding designs of the fort, by the Maharanas of Mewar, but the original structure designed by Maharana Kumbha remained the same.

The aloof geographical location of the fort provided the fort with a sense of unconquerability. In times of turmoil, it served the leaders of Mewar as a shelter.

The place being the birthplace of Maharana Pratap is of extreme significant value for the residents.

In times of turmoil, it served the leaders of Mewar as a refuge.
It also acted as a shelter for King Udai of Mewar as Banbir killed Vikramaditya and overtook the throne. To survive a prolonged invasion, the fort is self-contained in all aspects.

The combined strength of the Mughal and Amber could invade their defences just once, mainly due to the extreme scarcity of drinking water.

Jain temple at kumbhalgarh fort. ( Image source )

There is a splendid collection of Mauryas-built temples, the most breathtakingly beautiful of which is the Badal Mahal or the Cloud Palace. The fort also gives the surroundings a beautiful panoramic view. The giant wall of the fort extends about 36 kilometres. In the 19th century, Maharana Fateh Singh renovated the fort.

The wide compound of the fort has ruins that are very fascinating and a stroll around it can be very informative.

LOCATION & ARCHITECTURE

Established on the Aravalli range on the top of a hill and protected by thirteen elevated mountain ranges is constructed about 1,914 meters above the sea level on the uppermost craters.

The Kumbhalgarh Fort has a palisade wall that stretches 36 km (22 mi), making it one of the world’s longest walls. The mighty fort that surrounds the Udaipur city is 3600 feet tall and 38km long. The front walls are 15 feet high. Kumbhalgarh has seven gateways that are reinforced. Inside the fort, there are over 360 temples, 300 ancient Jain and the rest Hindu.

The fort’s fortresses stretch up to a length of 36 kilometres, and this fact has rendered the fort feature in global charts.

It is claimed to be the world’s second-longest wall, the first one being ” the Great Wall of China “. There have been numerous palaces, temples, and gardens in the vast compound of the Fort, making it more magnificent.

Walls of Kumbhalgarh ( Image source )

From the top of the palace, it is possible to see the Aravalli Range for miles. You can see the sand dunes of the Thar Desert from the walls of the fort.

A few kilometres before your journey to Kumbhalgarh Fort, you will find yourself on a spiral road passing through rugged cliffs and lush forests. This will take you to Ariat Pol, where the watchtower can be found.

There are seven huge gates in the invincible Fort, seven fortifications folded along with crafted walls hardened by curved pinnacles and massive watchtowers. To date, the solid structure and stable foundation of the Fort have rendered it unsurpassable.

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The bulky walls of the fort are wide enough to stand eight horses next to each other. Inside the complex of the Fort, there are no less than 360 temples. Among all of them, the Shiva Temple, containing a colossal Shivalinga, is worth visiting.

The History Of The Konark Sun Temple

The History Of The Konark Sun Temple

  • Konark Sun temple is a beautiful illustration of ancient architecture and the versatility of concepts.
  • Devoted to the deity of the sun, ‘Surya’, the very first ray of the sun falls at the temple entrance. Most of the temple has collapsed into storage and ruin, but there is still enough beauty to excite what exists.

DESCRIPTION

Konark’s Sun Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of India’s most known tourist temples today.

It is quite unique to build an entire temple in the form of a beautiful, adorned chariot. But in Odisha, the Sun Temple at Konark is far from ordinary.

The Konark Sun Temple is situated in 35 kilometres, north-east of the coastal region of Puri, representing the pinnacle of Kalinga architectural style and
and one of the remarkable works of traditional design anywhere on the planet.

The Sun Temple, as its name indicates is dedicated to the Hindu Sun God, Surya, in the form of his glorious chariot, and was built in the 13th Century CE by King Narasimha Deva I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty. The temple has 12 pairs of finely carved, giant wheels made from Khondalite stone, and is pulled by seven galloping horses.

The temple is about 100 feet in height and it is only half its initial size, as beautiful and majestic as it looks. The most remarkable aspect of the shrine, however, is its exquisite reliefs that occupy every empty spot, which includes illustrations of men and women, mythical characters, and animal carvings, and portray hunting, royal ceremonies, and military activities. The endless engravings, combined, add an atmosphere of euphoria to the temple.

HISTORY

The orders for the construction of the Sun Temple at Konark in 1244 was issued by Narasimha Deva I of the Eastern Ganga dynasty, who ruled from 1236 to 1287 CE.
While Samantaraya Mahapatra was the one responsible for its construction, the temple was commissioned by the king. ‘Konark’ means the four corners and the sun.

Since ancient times, Konark has been recognized as the domicile of the Sun God. Konark is referred to as names such as Surya Kshetra in the Shiva Purana.

It is widely believed that ‘Konark’ is a combination of two different terms, ‘Kona’ (corner or angle) and ‘arka’ (sun), possibly because of its geographical location as the location where the ‘sun rises at an angle.’ A tale that says that Lord Shiva himself idolized the sun here in an attempt to atone for his sins is what makes this place much more holy.

Although several other texts mention Konark as being an important sun worshipped site in India, there is one on this site that contains a tale about the ‘first Sun Temple.’ In the Samba Purana, an ancient text dedicated to the Sun God, Surya, this temple is mentioned, and in its initial chapters, it tells the tale of Lord Krishna’s son Samba.

The temple was dubbed the Black Pagoda, which the Europeans used it for navigation for their ships accredited to its eerie exterior.
It is said that because of its magnetic powers, the temple could draw ships to the shore.

Samba established a Sun Temple in Konark in the 19th century BCE, according to this tale, after his 12-year-long sun worship at Maitreyavana (former name of Konark) healed him of the curse of leprosy. The tale is said to be the origin of the tradition of sun worship in Konark.

Between the 7th and 13th centuries CE, temple-building in Odisha reached its pinnacle. The practice of worshipping the sun yet again flourished during the reign of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty (5th to 15th Century CE), especially at Konark.

ARCHITECTURE

The temple is famous for its remarkable Kalinga architecture, which includes a depiction of horses and wheels carved out of a single stone pulling a 100 foot high chariot. The statue shows the magnificent chariot of the God of the Sun.

The original temple, constructed of Khondalite rocks, had a 230 ft. high sanctum that no longer stands, a 128 ft. high assembly hall, dance hall, and dining hall which still remains. There are 24 exquisitely designed wheels, 12 ft. in diameter, pulled by horses.

Those 7 horses signify a week, the wheels represent the 12 months, while the eight spokes in the wheels symbolize the day-cycle. And then this entire representation reveals how the sun governs time, just being the example of the Surya in the Hindu mythology in his chariot accompanied by his charioteer, Aruna, moving from the east.

The entrance leads to the temple made of chlorite stone of the Deity of Surya. Elegant carvings of various characters, including Hindu deities, portraits of everyday mortal life, birds, animals, and much more, embellish the walls of the temple with statues.

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In its shikhara, the temple also has erotic statues belonging to the tradition of tantra. The temple’s wheels can be used as sundials and can estimate the time very well.

The magnificent ruins of Jaisalmer Fort

The magnificent ruins of Jaisalmer Fort

DESCRIPTION

In the far northwest region of Rajasthan, India’s desert nation, Jaisalmer Fort preserves a quiet watch. Although the local airport is shut to commercial traffic, almost half a million tourists miraculously find their way each year to the fortress, although it sits dangerously close to the disputed border with Pakistan, India’s long-time adversary.

From Jaipur, the pilgrims follow a 400-mile-long path. They travel through the violent winds of the desert swirling towards Delhi. They encounter 105-degree temperatures in summer. They travel to an area where water has been in low supply for the past 2,000 years. They travel because there is no other place like Jaisalmer on land.

Jaisalmer Fort is also known as Sonar Quilla or Sone ka Quilla (golden fort) and is one of the largest forts in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, in the world.

During the day, the vast yellow sandstone walls are light yellow and fade to honey-gold as the sun sets, and it is also called the Golden Fort because of the same. This desert beauty has seen many wars while standing in the sandy stretches of the great Thar Desert on Trikuta hill.

Jaisalmer is known as the golden city itself and offers the cultural convergence of the nomadic desert and royalty that will allow you to experience something new.

Jaisalmer Fort’s architectural excellence and other attractions in the golden city are absolutely breathtaking. This UNESCO World Heritage site, built by the Rajput ruler Rawal Jaisal in 1156 AD, is the pride of the Thar desert and a sign of power. In the glorious past until the present, Jaisalmer Fort played a crucial role. It was part of the many fascinating civilizations of the various ruling dynasties.

By preserving the masterpieces and visions, it has maintained the values of the past secure. With its breathtaking elegance, this place will never fail to surprise you and will give you a new vision of the nation’s history, tradition, and culture.

HISTORY

Jaisalmer Fort is said to have established the Golden Fort in around 1156 AD by Raja Rawal Jaisal, who was a Bhatti Rajput king.

In order to point and symbolize the strength and supremacy of the royal Rajputs, he chose the Trikuta hills situated in the great Thar Desert for his fort.

Sonar Quila is recognized as the second oldest fort in Rajasthan and has seen and been part of many historic wars, but even today, when you witness this great building, it has the same beauty and optimistic vibes that will leave you aw-struck. It was also part of the silk trading route from the 16th to the 18th century.

So, the convergence between Islamic and Rajput architecture can be witnessed.

Sonar Quila is a mythical structure and has significant meaning in the history of greatness. The fort has four wide entrances, named Suraj pol, named Ganesh Pol, Akshaya Pol, Suraj Pol, and Hawa Pol, which have their importance, since the first sun rays over the city used to reach this very gate, other gates also have fascinating stories connected to them and are very beautifully carved and built in a way that it is a mix of strength and elegance.

ARCHITECTURE

Jaisalmer Fort is also known for its architectural excellence. It is situated on a hill that rises above 250 feet in height with an incredible measurement of 1,500 feet (460 m) long and 750 feet (230 m) high (76 m).

With exquisite compositions and patterns, you would be pleased to see the essence of the Rajasthani architectural touch. The entire fort, constructed of stunning yellow sandstone, has an incredible look and shines like gold as the sun-rays hit on the walls.

This structure moves colour from tawny lion yellow to honey-gold with the glorious sunrise and beautiful sunset. You’ll have fun showing all four of the entrances to the fort. Histories such as Akhai Vilas, the Rang Mahal, Sarvottam Vilas, Gaj Mahal, and the Moti Mahal contribute to their meaning in many other areas.

The Moti Mahal is also referred to as Salam Singh Ki Haweli and is extremely breathtaking with its incredible architecture. It was designed in 1815 with a peacock-shaped roof and numerous balconies that will offer a jaw-dropping view of this location.

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By keeping the crafts, patterns, and texture at the priority, these places too have been produced and have been taken utmost care that they stand to display Rajput’s monarchy and energy and take Rajasthani style on another level.

The Harappan civilization of Dholavira

The Harappan civilization of Dholavira

Head north from Ahmedabad for seven hours, deeper into the barren region of Kutch, and you’ll come across an island in the middle of the salt deposits, the location of the Harappan mega-city. Dholavira was one of the biggest cities of its day, more than 4000 years ago. It was also one of the oldest, with more than 1200 years of continuous occupation.

Remains of a house at Dholavira ( Image source )

Excavations at Dholavira began just 35 years later, in 1990, under RS Bisht of the Archaeological Survey of India, first discovered by archaeologist JP Joshi in 1956. The site of Dholavira reveals a rapid development, distributed over an area of 100 hectares, and studies here have brought out some interesting aspects of the Harappan Civilization.

From the 3rd millennium BCE to the middle of the 2nd millennium BCE, which is from around 2650 BCE to 1450 BCE, Dholavira was occupied and has seven distinct phases that record the rise and demise of the Harappan Civilization.

Between 2650 BCE and 2500 BCE, the earliest stage of Dholavira shows evidence of a pre-Harappan culture of dispersed settlements with a very rudimentary pottery style. By 2500 BCE, Dholavira appears to have evolved into a sophisticated planned town, a trademark of the mature Harappan period, and it remained a large urban centre until 1900 BCE.

Dholavira also had massive structures, elaborate sewerage and gateways, like many of the other cities of the time, Mohenjo-Daro, Rakhigarhi and Harappa. It was a well-planned settlement and its architecture offered great insight to archaeologists into the life and legacy of the people of Harappan.

The town was lined by massive walls measuring 15-18 meters in thickness at the height of its residence. A one-of-its-kind city space lay within the rectangular fortification with the citadel separated into two parts together with a middle city and a lower city.

Water reservoir with steps ( Image source )

There is a large empty space to the north next to the citadel, perhaps used for various reasons such as as a place for a public meeting on festive or ceremonial occasions, a stadium or a marketplace during trade seasons for trading commodities. Four rooms, a spacious courtyard, a bathroom and even a kitchen were part of the daily house at Dholavira.

What appears more like signboard made up of ten large-sized letters from the Harappan script was one stand-out discovery here at Dholavira. Below the northern gateway, a 3-meter-long inscription was discovered and archaeologists believe that the letters would have been installed on a wooden signboard right above the gate door in order to be visible from distance.

The water management system is another significant aspect of Dholavira. In the middle of a drought-prone area today, during the Harappan era, Dholavira was, at best, an island in the Brackish sea. The two seasonal water streams outside the city and some groundwater were the primary sources of water. What is impressive here is how the freshwater was harnessed by the city administration, developing a dynamic and efficient system of water management that enabled Dholavira to prosper.

However for centuries, Dholavira flourished, explorations have indeed provided us insights about its demise. Subsequent archaeological discoveries have shone a great amount of light on what happened, one of the most discussed questions.

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Most archaeologists apparently believe that, while there are other hypotheses, it was climate change, possibly caused by a tectonic shift that led to the destruction of these great Harappan cities. Interestingly, at that period, this was seen in the Bronze Age civilizations.

Israel discovers a “piggy bank” 1,200 years old with gold coins

Israel discovers a “piggy bank” 1,200 years old with gold coins

A small treasure trove of gold coins in an ancient ‘piggy bank’ has been found by Israeli archaeologists, assumed to be the personal savings of a potter who worked in a kiln around 1200 years ago.

They date from the time when the area was ruled by the mighty Abbasid Caliphate and a medieval industrial site was unearthed. The discovery was made when Jews exchanged and shared gifts during the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.

The gold coins were discovered by archaeologists in Yavne in central Israel. An area that would eventually be the site of a new residential community was excavated by a team led by Liat Nadav-Ziv and Dr. Elie Haddad.

On behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, they were conducting the examination. A large number of items were found by the team, but nothing unusual, until they discovered a small jug.

Nadav-Ziv said she was “cataloging a large number of artifacts discovered during the excavations when all of a sudden I heard shouts of joy”.

They came from Marc Molkondov, a veteran archaeologist, and he led them to a spot in the dig. A small cracked jug full of a number of coins had been unearthed. Clearly, this was a significant discovery.

The coins were examined by Dr Robert Kool, a coin specialist from the Israel Antiquities Authority. The coin  existed from the 7th-9th centuries AD and and date to the early Abbasid era.

As the arts, industry, and science flourished, the Abbasid Caliphate is known as an Islamic golden age.

A Gold Dinar from the reign of Caliph Harun A-Rashid (786-809 AD) was one of the most valuable coins was found in the dig.

According to The Jerusalem Post, he ruled the Abbasid Caliphate at the zenith of its strength and prosperity and is a “key figure in the classic collection of stories known as the Arabian Nights, also known as One Thousand and One Nights.”

During the major Jewish holiday, Chanukah, better known as Hanukkah, the coins were discovered.

Gifts of coins are given during this eight-day festival, and chocolate gold coins are exchanged occasionally. Kool is quoted by The Times of Israel reports that, “Without a doubt, this is a wonderful Chanukah present for us.”

Yavne’s excavation is not far from Tel or the mound, and a significant number of kilns have been found. The kilns were used to make pottery from the late Byzantine period to the early Abbasid period (600 to 900 AD).

It appears that the site was once an industrial center and pots, jars, and bowls were made.

Near one of the entrances of the kiln, the jug with the treasure trove was uncovered. The Jerusalem Post notes that “it may have been the ‘piggy-bank’ of the potter where he had stored his personal savings.” At some point, it is probable that the potter hid the coins and was unable to recover them.

The place in Yavne has a long history. During the Achaemenid Persian era (5th and 4th centuries BC), evidence was found that the region was the site of wine production. The wine was manufactured on a significant scale there. 

An significant discovery in itself is the jug filled with coins. The discovery allows us to understand more about an important industrial center in the Middle Ages and the role of the region in the Abbasid-flourished international trade network.

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It is expected that further excavations at the site would reveal more about the ancient and medieval history of Yavneh.

Greek Farmer Stumbles Upon Ancient Minoan Tomb Revealing Concealed Chamber

Greek Farmer Stumbles Upon Ancient Minoan Tomb Revealing Concealed Chamber

Sometimes you stumble upon remarkable pieces of long-forgotten history when you live in an area that was home to ancient civilizations. According to Smithsonianmag, that is what happened to one Greek farmer living in Crete, not far from the town of Ierapetra.

The farmer was parking his truck on his property under some olive trees when the ground underneath him began to give way.

He saw that a four-foot-wide hole had opened up in the ground after the farmer moved his vehicle to a safer location. He realised this was no ordinary hole when he peered inside.

The farmer informed Archaeologists from the local heritage ministry to investigate the site, and they started to excavate what turned out to be an ancient Minoan tomb, cut into the soft limestone that had been concealed for about 1,000 years.

Two adult Minoan men were positioned in highly embossed clay coffins called “larnakes,” popular in the Minoan culture of the Bronze Age.

These, in turn, were surrounded by funeral vases which shows that the men were of high status.

The length of the tomb was about 13 feet and 8 feet deep. the tomb was divided into three chambers that were accessible by a vertical tunnel that was sealed with clay after the tomb’s occupants were laid to rest.

In the northernmost chamber, one larnax was found, with a collection of burial vessels scattered around it.

The chamber at the southern end of the tomb contained the other larnax coffin, along with 14 amphorae and a bowl.

The tomb was believed to be about 3,400 years old and was preserved in almost perfect condition, making it a valuable discovery.

Bioarchaeologist Kristina Killgrove ( Image source )

Bioarchaeologist, Kristina Killgrove said in a statement that the ornamentation on the artefacts found in the tomb suggests that its occupants seemed to be wealthy men.

The fanciest tombs of the same era, however, had huge beehive-style domed walls that this tomb doesn’t have, so they probably weren’t among the wealthiest.

According to Killgrove, the discovery dates from the Late Minoan Period, also called the Late Palace Period.

Minoan civilization was very rich in the earlier part of that era, with amazing ceramics and art, but by the later part of the period, there is an apparent decline in wealth and prestige.

A combination of natural disasters, including a tsunami caused by an earthquake and the eruption of a nearby volcano, is believed to have weakened civilization.

For foreigners, this made it easier to come in and destroy the palaces.
Locals do not expect any more tombs of this type to be discovered, but the area is known to be the origin of a number of antiques, and as with this discovery, a great deal of them have been found by mistake.

Agrarian and tourism of Ierapetra, the Deputy Mayor of Local Councils, pointed out that the tomb had never been found by thieves, and went on to say that it possibly would have stayed uncovered forever, except for the broken irrigation pipe that was responsible for the softened and deteriorated soil in the olive grove of the farmer.

He went on to say how excited they were to have the tomb to further enrich their understanding of their ancient culture and history, and that the tomb was confirmation for those historians who did not believe that in that part of Crete there were Minoans.

It was previously believed that the Minoans only settled in the plains of the island and lowlands, not in the mountains surrounding Ierapetra, although there was an excavation in 2012 in the same area that uncovered a Minoan mansion.

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To see what more data can be gleaned from them, Killgrove will examine the skeletons. As a Bioarchaeology, she said, “I routinely pore over the skeletons of ancient populations so that I can learn about their diet, health, and lifestyles.” It is also hoped that investigation on Minoan and Mycenaean origins, would provide more information into the research.

Chennakeshava Temple, a 900-year-old centrepiece in Belur

Chennakeshava Temple, a 900-year-old centrepiece in Belur

Belur, a town of Karnataka, India, situated in the Hassan district is famous for one of the best examples of Hoysala architecture, the 900 years old Chennakeshava Temple also being the center of the Hoysala kingdom’s capital

It was established by the Hoysala Emperor, Vishnuvardhana, in the early 12th century, when the town of Belur was the capital city of Hoysala.

Chennakeshava Temple
The Courtyard of Chennakesava Temple ( Image source )

For more than three centuries, the Hoysalas administered the city and to this day, people from all around the country travel to the Chennakesava Temple, Belur to savor the exquisite artworks and sculptures and enjoy the spiritual beauty of the place from the ancient time.

HISTORY

The South Indian history of the Hoysala period started around 1000 CE and lasted until 1346 CE. They established about 1,500 temples in 958 centres during this era. In old inscriptions and medieval documents, Belur is called Beluhur, Velur or Velapura. It was the early capital of the Kings of Hoysala.

Chennakeshava Temple at Belur ( Image source )

Vishnuvardhana, who assumed power in 1110 CE, was among the Hoyasala rulers. After a huge military success in 1116 CE, he authorized the Chennakeshava temple dedicated to Vishnu in 1117 CE. Sri Vishnuvardhana built this temple to mark his conversion to Sri Vaishnavism after slipping under the influence of Ramanujaja, a great devotee of Lord Vishnu, who also was a virtuous king who’s had the name of Lord Vishnu in his.

It took 103 years to construct the Chennakeshava temple at Belur. Vishnuvardhana shifted his capital to Dvarasamudra, where the building of Shiva’s sacred Hoysaleswara Temple began. It continued to still be built until he died in 1140 CE.

His legacy was maintained by his heirs, who finished the Temple of Hoysaleswara in 1150 CE, and the Temple of Chennakesava, Somanathapura in 1258 CE. The Hoysalas appointed many renowned architects and craftsmen who created a new heritage of architecture.

THE ARCHITECTURAL PLAN

The Chennakesava temple, built along the river Yagachi, has perplexing structures that have become a significant piece of the historical backdrop of Karnataka.

Domical bay ceiling in the mantapa of Chennakeshava temple ( Image source )

This temple started by Vishnuvardhana in the twelfth century was accomplished by Bhallala and it wound up taking a time of 103 years to build.

The temple, crafted with soapstone, showcases a very intricate design developed on a classic Hoysala architecture layout. The size of the temple is what distinguishes it from several other Hoysala era temples and it is believed to become one of the dynasty’s earliest creations.

It was constructed after the finest architects and engineers were appointed from the region, who came up with designs that would be the complex’s centerpiece.

Vesara style vimana and stellate shrine in Chennakeshava temple at Somanathapura ( Image source )

Hand-chiseled by skilled craftsmen, the four central pillars highlight Madanikas or heavenly damsels. The Madanikas are in various postures, and the lady with a parrot and the warlock are among the notable attractions that lure visitors and art enthusiasts.

The temple was built 37 meters high at its tallest point. With beautifully crafted artwork, with dancing girls in different postures, the exterior walls are adorned.

Out of an aggregate of 48 columns, all exceptionally designed and crafted, one of the most outstanding attractions at the temple is the Narasimha pillar.

There will be many mentions and depictions of key events from both the Mahabharata as well as the Ramayana for tourists who are eager to study the specifics of the wall sculptures at the Temple.

In the midst of the thorough depictions, close examination will reveal subtle pieces of concealed erotica. Horses, elephants and lions are animals that commonly appear in the wall sculptures.

The entrances of the mandapa of the temple display a king of Hoysala killing what researchers believe is either a tiger or a lion. It is regularly accepted that the deficiency of the Cholas, whose imperial insignia is a tiger, might be an emblematic impression of this.

In the Temple’s vast complex, there are several other significant sculptures. The Gajasurasamhara (sculpture of Lord Shiva), a sculpture of Ravana, the killing of Mahishasura by Durga and several others are some of them.

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At the entrance gate, there are several small temples, too. The signatures left by the artists of the time are another interesting aspect of all of these sculptures, giving us further glimpse into the experiences and society during the period of Hoysala.