In 2004, a Harappan site was found in the small town of Bagasara in Gujarat. This site which dates back to 2500 B.C was found to have a shell making workshop, fortifications, and knives with bone handles.
Shell bangles have been found before but not a workshop with a such a concentration of shells. The presence of the workshop reveals that the shells were cut and polished into fine bangles. Several heaps of sacred conch shells along with thousands of shell circles systematically cut from these shells have been discovered. Workshops of faience and lapidary stone beads have also been found.
The latest findings in an area of 120 meters by 120 meters in Bagasra, about 70 km away from Morbi, is the result of nine years of excavation by a team of 20 experts. The location close to the sea indicates that the people exported their wares somewhere. A six-meter thick fortification made out of mud, brick and stones enables one to reach the conclusion that the products made in the industry were well preserved. Outside the fortification were residential units.
While an entrance gate for communication between these two segments have been located at the southern wall of the fortification, another gate, maybe the one that led towards the sea, of the fortified area, is yet to be unearthed.
“Deposits of six meters at the site indicate that urban life existed there for about 600 years. But what happened to them thereafter remains to be probed,” Dr Bhan says. Habitation at the site continued in the post-urban period too for about 200 years up to 1700 BC. The department will soon begin another round of excavation to get more answers to the unanswered questions and the findings will be known at an exhibition to be held sometime in April.
One of the seals discovered at the site has decorative linear patterns incised on three sides and a deep, scooped out rectangular socket-like cavity on the fourth side. This is in addition to the usual engraved inscription and the unicorn figure.
This is unique, Dr Bhan says, as these are in addition to the usual engraved inscription and the unicorn figure on the seal. The other seals are like the seals normally found at Harappan sites. The team has also found the stamped impression of such seals on clay and terracotta sealing. It is believed that the seals were used in trade and exchange transactions during the period. [Unicorn seals and conch shells]
Recently archaeologists excavated the entrance to what is known as the Gola Dhora mound and they are proposing a theory that the Harappan elite were serviced by such rural civilizations.
Among other things found here that lend credence to this thesis is a shell workshop, which experts say has no parallel in any other IVC city. ”We had been working here since 1995. The fortification was and other structures were there but the entrance was missing. We were moving around it but never reaching there. “This time it clicked. The city as we visualized it on excavation is complete now. The fortification acted as a link between the smaller rural centres and large Harappan towns, by providing an industrial and trade linkage ,” said Dept head Professor K K Bhan.
A leather bag found from shell workshop has unfinished bangles, beads and pendants. ”The town seems to be a small settlement associated with craft activities. It seems people were exploiting available resources from neighbouring region, turning out finished products and sending them across to elite Harappan city homes,” says Professor V H Sonavane. [Archaeologists hit paydirt in Gola Dhora]
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