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As good as Dholavira?
Khirasara, near Kutch, may be the next big thing after Dholavira and Lothal. Archaeologists have their fingers crossed.
The Vadodara division of the ASI hit upon the proverbial pot of gold within just a few months of excavation at Khirasara, an old habitation in Kutch known to have shades of the iconic Dholavira as far as historicity goes.
One of the richest remnants of the Harappan civilisation, Dholavira is a location that manifests the exemplary town planning skills that Indus Valley was known for. From ecofriendly housing units to neatly planned city squares, public spaces, water supply systems and drainage networks that led directly to the outskirts of the city in order to secure a clean habitat for its residents, its designers had thought of everything.
The ASI expects that Khirasara, which is located 85 km from Bhuj, cannot be vastly different from its neighbours like Dholavira, Surkotda and Lothal, the golden triangle that is being pitched for World Heritage Site status. Khirasara could throw up similar "nature and expression" as work progresses. After all, the Kutch belt adjoins the state of Sindh, which was the cradle of the Indus Valley Civilisation.
In fact, even before its excavation, Khirasara was believed to be a rich site in terms of archaeological value. In 1970, some Harappan antiquities were discovered here. Around 1977, an ASI official who was exploring the site had chanced upon a big cubical weight, chunks of pottery, sprinklers and spouts of red-polished earthenware harking back to that era. Seals found from Khirasara have been exhibited in the Bhuj museum.
However, work began in all earnestness last year after a 300-square metre wall was found in a private farm in Khirasara. For over four or five months beginning December 2009, the 100-member ASI team comprising archaeological experts and labourers, who were especially trained to chisel with a mellow hand, toiled away under the harsh heat of the desert sun. Their efforts were rewarded within no time.
Piece by piece, an old Harappan settlement has been resurrected from its burial spot in Khirasara, revealing secrets that almost turned sedate archaeologists into excited schoolchildren. "This settlement is not as big as Dholavira but that does not take away its importance, " says Dr Jitendra Nath, superintending archaeologist (excavation branch), ASI. "Yet, our work is still at the initial stage so we will have to wait and see what the next season brings. "
Nath confirms having unearthed some fine specimens of perforated pottery, which will be matched with the items recovered from other Harappan sites in order to identify and date them. "The ones found in the upper layer are likely to belong to a later period while the ones found in the deeper layer will be older, " he explains. As is self-evident, the "subsistence pattern", or the trade and livelihood options of the lost colony will also become known once more artifacts are found.
Such was the reaction to this latest discovery that ASI officials from different zones rushed to Khirasara. Mumbai's superintending archaeologist, M S Chauhan, who visited the site in April, says the site could turn out to be as significant as Dholavira. The ASI team plans to return around November or December and foresees a timeline of three years for completion.
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