Friday, Oct 07, 2022

Recent Excavations In Haryana’s Rakhigarhi Throw New Light On Indus Valley Civilisation

Rakhigarhi continues to surprise archaeologists and history-lovers with its wealth of artefacts and treasures

Rakhigarhi is a Harappan-era settlement with seven mounds
Rakhigarhi is a Harappan-era settlement with seven mounds Wikimedia Commons

Rakhigarhi in Haryana’s Hisar district is an important archaeological site dating back to the Indus Valley Civilisation. However, similar to Pompeii, much of Rakhigarhi still remains unexplored. It’s the reason why a number of rounds of excavations have been carried out in this sleepy village—for the first time by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) between 1998 and 2001, then by Deccan College, Pune, from 2013 to 2016.   

A recent three-month-long excavation (in 2022) at this 5,000-year-old Harappan site has revealed new insights again into the nature of this fascinating settlement. So far, seven mounds have been excavated in Rakhigarhi, each of which have revealed a range of artefacts. This time, the digging was done in three of the seven mounds, out of which mounds number 6 and 7 have been notified by ASI as sites of national importance, according to Union Minister of Culture G. Kishan Reddy. 

The highlight among the finds this time seems to be that of a jewellery-making unit/factory. The structures and frameworks of tiered houses, a kitchen complex, lanes, a drainage system, graveyards, thousands of clay pots and seals, terracotta toys, statues and figures, as well as jewellery of copper, gold, agate and other semi-precious stones have also been found all over the site.

A skeleton unearthed from Rakhigarhi, now on display in National Museum, New Delhi
A skeleton unearthed from Rakhigarhi, now on display in National Museum, New Delhi Wikimedia Commons

Speaking to The Indian Express, Sanjay Manjul, Joint Director-General, ASI, and the leader of the excavation team mentioned that this was the first time that mound number 3 had been dug open and that, preliminarily, it seemed to be an “aristocratic settlement” with a burnt brick wall, suggesting the possibility that it was a walled area. Manjul added, “In addition, the objective is also to understand the settlement of Rakhigarhi and to identify the individuality and interrelationship of the seven mounds.”

The ASI’s goal with these excavations is clear—"to make the archaeological site of Rakhigarhi accessible to people by exposing the structural remains and conserving them for future viewing, along with providing amenities to the visitors,” according to Ajay Yadav, Additional Director-General, ASI. Relevantly, Rakhigarhi also featured in Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s Budget Speech, where she mentioned that five iconic sites of archaeological significance would be developed with on-site museums. To that end, the antiquities uncovered in Rakhigarhi, now considered to be the largest Harappan site spread over 350 acres, will be displaced at the under-construction museum (worth ₹23 crore) situated close to the site.