BHAWANIPATNA: The survey of excavation taken up recently by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Bhubaneswar region, at Asurgarh Fort in the district throws light on existence of an advanced urban civilisation.Survey of the site, an ancient metropolis which existed from Neolithic age to 5th century AD, was started in November last year and ended on April 15. The site is believed to have its link to the history from Mauryan to Kushan period, dating to 2,300 years back, said Chief of ASI’s excavation wing DB Gadnayak.
The present excavation of Asurgarh was taken up by digging three trial trenches inside the fort area. The main fort area of Asurgarh is spread over 80 hectares and encircled by a deep moat on three sides, river Sandol in the west and a big tank – Asur Sagar – in the east.Clusters of early settlement and urban centre have also been explored in the villages of Bhimkella, Pipalpadar, Mandel, Pujipadar, Lakhguda, Bilat and Deheli, all located in the vicinity of Asurgarh fort. All are believed to be part of Asurgarh Metropolis.
During the excavation, ruins of a circular brick temple of 40 feet diameter – believed to be the place of worship of Goddess Stambeswari – with different articles used for ritual purpose also came to light.
The excavation teams unearthed silver punch-marked coins and jewellery like silver and copper to ring and ear rings, beads of semi-precious stones, glass bangle pieces, rare terracotta ware and floor tiles. The materials excavated indicate that ancient India had ties with people located over the salt route linking Central India with Kalinga and South India, said Gadnayak.
Other unique findings like a deep well with terracotta rings and circular dishes made of iron with pointed edges point to the fact that it was an important centre of glass technology. The well could belong to 1st to 2nd century AD.Gadnayak said during excavation, an idol of Lord Vishnu was discovered by Bhimkella villagers and incidentally, Bhimkella has early form of Vishnu idol dating to 5th to 6th century AD.
Gadnayak said the Director General of Archeology will be apprised of the findings and if permission is granted, the trenches will be extended in next season and there will be excavation from other sides.
Head of Department History and Principal of Autonomous Government College Bhawanipatna Dr Baba Mishra said the historians and scholars believe that it was the capital of king Byaghraraj of Mahakantara. Historian Sasanka Panda said there is a need for further excavation and systematic research on Asurgarh, which was one of the richest metropolis of ancient India.