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Excavations at Burzahom (1960- 1971)

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Memoirs of the Archaeological Survey of India No. 118
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Item Code: UAT916
Author: R.S. Fonia
Language: English
Edition: 2022
ISBN: 9788195534807
Pages: 330
Other Details 11.20 X 9.00 inch
Weight 1.87 kg
Book Description
About the Book
Burzahom was the first Neolithic habitation site of its kind in Kashmir, excavated by T.N. Khazanchi of Archaeological Survey of India from 1960 to 1971.

Burzahom is recognised as a unique site with fascinating traces of habitation, especially adopted to face long, cold isolated winters of the Himalayas.

The Neolithic people of Burzahom created pit-dwellings, buried their pets, produced their own food and got engaged in long distance trade with the outside world. This book presents an engaging of the research carried at Burzahom in the 1960s.

Excavations at the site of Burzahom in Srinagar district, Jammu and Kashmir, were carried out over field seasons from 1960 to 1971, by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), under the Field Director, late TN. Khazanchi. The Neolithic character of the site was identified at the excavations and it was subsequently defined as the Northern Neolithic Culture because of the distinctive traits seen in its structural features, varieties of tools in stone and bone, animal and plant remains, and unique dog burials.

A large numbers of such sites with similar traits have been further reported from India and it's neighbouring countries, specially from the Swat Valley, Baluchistan: the Gomal, Gandhar, and the Tibetan plateau. B.K. Thapar, the former Director General of AS1 and an authority on Neolithic archaeology, remarked years ago, that the Burzahom excavations have helped in the identification of Kashmir as one of the richest Neolithic Cultures of South Asia. A rough estimate suggests that there are about fifty kindred sites in South Asia, but only a few have been excavated and the findings published. Burzahom, being the first site of this group to be excavated, remains the type site of this culture.

Large scale excavations were undertaken by ASI at Burzahom, brief reports were published periodically by the ASI in its annual bulletin, 1.e. Indian Archaeology - A Review.

Apart from these reports, some specialized reports on plant and animal remains, lithic microware analysis, beads and pendants and human burials were published from time to time.

It is my pleasure to present the first detailed report on Burzahom excavations which has now been published by the ASI. I congratulate Dr. R.S. Fonia, former Additional Director General of the ASI for putting all the relevant data together and presenting this comprehensive report on Burzahom excavations.

I would also like to place on record my appreciation of my colleagues Dr. Alok Tripathi, ADG (Archaeology), Shri Anil Tiwari, Director (Archaeology). Dr. Neha Pande, Asst.

Archaeologist, Dr. Saurabh, Asst. Archaeologist and Mr. Satender Singh, L.D.C., whose joint efforts have led to the publication of the report. We hope that the academic community will welcome this long-awaited report and we look forward to their valuable inputs for further research on the Northern Neolithic cultural tradition.

The Naninthic ale of furzahom was discovered in 1935, by 11. De Terra and TT. Paterson of the Yale Cambridge expedition, during their pioneering investigation of the Halcyon glaciation and early humans in the Kashmir Valley. They undertook trial diggings at the site and their observations on stratigraphy and material remains paved the way for carrying out further excavations at the site in order to understand the cultural sequence.

However, for more than two decades, no further archaeological proper investigations were carried out the site. The situation changed soon after the merger of the State Department of Archaeology of Jammu and Kashmir with the Archaeological Survey of India in 1959. The merger provided a new impetus in the promotion of archaeological research and preservation of monuments and sites in the Valley It was at this point of time that the task of undertaking excavation at Barzahom was entrusted to Mr. TN Khazancha in 1960, Ha extensive training in field archaeology, especially in excavations, under Sir R.EM Wheeler, came very handy in unravelling complex stratigraphic issues at the site. In fact, Barzahom was the first habitation site of its kind in Jammu and Kashmir, to be extensively excavated from 1960 to 1971. The credit therefore entirely goes to Mr. Khuzanchi for all the exciting finds free the excavation and far also, unearthing the remains of the cathet food producers of the Valley The story of Burzahum excavation is quite an exciting one. The new Discoveries from Burrahom instantly attracted considerable attention from national and international scholars. This was instrumental in initiating new explorations, that led to the discovery of several sites in the Kashmir Valley, the Swat Valley and sites such as Gumla and Mehrgarh in Pakistan and Kanuo in the Tibetan Plateau. These discoveries and the subsequent excavations revealed that the Neolithic remains in Kashmir shared several cultural traits with the neighbouring regions, for instance Sarai Khola in the Potwar Plateau, Ghalgal and Leobant in the Swat Valley and Karuo in the Tibetan Plateau. These findings have helped immensely, in recognizing the specific regional traits and features of the Northern Neolithic Culture of the subcontinent.

During the early part of the post-glacial period, important changes, took place in culture and subsistence activities in the Kastanir Valley. The long epoch of the hunter-gatherer economy of the Palaeolithic period came to an end and a new era based on food production, involving animal husbandry and started stock raising. in the post-glacial climatic condition of the Holocene. The transition from the forager to the farming economy has been identified as the Neolithic culture. The findings from the excavations at Burzahom one of the richest Neolithic cultures in South Asia make it possible to understand the various stages in the development of farming economy. Archaeological investigations conducted by the ASI, the Kashmir University and the Kashmir Palaco climatic Project in the 1980's revealed that Kashmir had a highly developed food producing culture, spread through the length and breadth of the valley and not just confined to Burzahom. But unfortunately very little research work on prehistoric archaeology has been carried out in the valley, because of the conflict and unrest in the region since the late 1990s.

For several reasons, no proper report of the Burzahom excavations could be published for four decades. This was unfortunate, considering the site being the first of its kind to be excavated and being the type site for the Northern Neolithic Culture.

Book's Contents and Sample Pages

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