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Prehistoric man thrived here - The Times of India

Gautham Machalah ()
2 October 1996

Title : Prehistoric man thrived here
Author : Gautham Machalah
Publication : The Times of India
Date : October 2, 1996

This article is from an earlier data. It is being sent to
indicate the thinking of the author at that time.

Extensive exploration by Archaeological Survey of India
(ASI) in Karnataka has revealed that the pre-historic man
thrived on the banks of the river Bhima in Raichur dis-

The findings assume importance because the evidence
unearthed by the ASI ranges from the second to the 18th
century, which goes to prove that this area was under
continuous occupation right from the pre-historic times.

However, the Karnataka government's more to construct a
barrage across the river has led to concern among archae-
ologists, who worry that these findings of great histori-
cal significance may be submerged by the back waters. As
ASI superintending archeologist K B Poonacha, who led the
exploration puts it, "This region is that chronological
watch-dog of India."

Excavation in Sannati, Kanaganahalli and Hasargundgi
villages has thrown light on the pre, proto, early his-
toric and medieval cultural assemblages and the architec-
tural activities spanning nearly 17 centuries.

The findings in Hasargundgi and Kanaganahalli indicate
that Buddhism not only existed, but flourished in prove
this. This stupa exhibits art expressions of the Hinayana
phase, where the Buddha is depicted symbolically in the
form of an elephant, tree and an empty throne under the
Bodhi tree.

Among the antiquities recovered are the sculpture of the
pregnant Maya (the Buddha's mother) and the Buddhapada,
an impression of Mahavira's feet. The carving found in
the stupa depicts the birth of the Buddha.

"The sculptural representations offer a glimpse of the
then contemporary monastic life, various apparels of the
Buddhist monks, costumes, coiffures and weaponry. The
excavation of the stupa opens up a new colourful chapter
in the early history of Karnataka with special reference
to the Buddhist art and architecture," adds Mr Poonacha.

In Hasargundgi, the excavation has yielded pre-historic
tools and a lime stone structure. Interestingly, the land
is under active cultivation, with the farmers unaware of
the rich heritage that lies a few below. In fact, pre-
cious evidences like shafts and pillar bases found by
farmers have been dumped in a corner. In some areas the
upper layers of the structure have been destroyed due to

"Most important of all is the occurrence of fairly large
quantities of lead and potin coins indicating that the
region had gained sufficient prominence as a trade and
religious centre open to cultural exchange and business

A study of the sculpture provides information on the

dress habits of that period. The upper half of the body
was usually naked except for the monks. The elite had
elaborate hair styles. They wore heavy ornaments from the
waist to the elbow and their ankles were covered with
anklets. "But the sculptor excels in capturing the vari-
ous moods of animals like birds in flight, trotting
camels and galloping antelopes."

With the threat of the Bhima backwaters looming large
over the site, Mr Poonacha has proposed an extensive
survey of the area in order to draw up plans to salvage
and preserve these "Invaluable art treasures" for poster-
ity either by transplanting them at a safer place or
shifting them to a museum.

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