Sanauli site yields OCP Culture coffins, burial goods

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Sanauli (Uttar Pradesh), April 30 (IANS) Dating back to 2100-1900 BC – to a culture that was contemporary to the late phase of mature Harappan period – several fascinating artifacts, including two wooden ‘legged coffins with skeletons, have been excavated here at the archaeological site of Sanauli.

A recent excavation by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) at Sanauli has unearthed these artifacts belonging to the Copper Hoard Culture and the Ochre Coloured Pottery (OCP) Culture, the ASI Institute of Archaeology Director S.K. Manjul told IANS on Tuesday.

The fresh excavations, being undertaken till January this year, explored two sites — one which was inhabited, and another where the people buried their dead.

Sanauli is located on the left bank of the Yamuna river, 68 km northeast of Delhi.

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In the habitation area, a few metres away from the burial site, the excavations unearthed the remains of four furnaces that yielded slags, potsherds, and a few charred bones. Stone weights, stone anvils, animal figurines, and gamesmen were also recovered.

Manjul said that of the four furnaces, three are oval and were possibly used for copper smelting, indicating that the culture had expertise in copper tool making.

He also said that two coffin burials with meticulous decoration around the coffins were recovered from the more extensive burial site.

‘The wood has completely perished, but the geometrical pattern of the steatite inlay decoration is visible.

‘This burial pit contains evidence of decomposed bow, bone points, armlet of semi-precious stones, gold bead and pottery, including vases, jars, bowls and dish on stand’, he added.

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Another coffin contains an extended female skeleton in a disturbed condition where the burial goods include copper mirror, hairpin, channel, beads and pottery.

‘Two big pots — a copper and a fiance pot — are placed under the coffin which could have contained food and other organic remains associated with the rituals,’ Manjul said.

To the north of the two coffin burials is a sacred chamber of burnt bricks. ‘This could have been used for making preparations for the soul before the burial was made,’ the ASI official said.

The Copper Hoard and OCP Cultures were urban cultures found around the second millenium BC, and these excavations reveal a great deal about their ways of living and burying the dead.

Manjul also said that these cultures are different from the Harappan or Indus Valley Civilisation since they have different making techniques for pottery and beads, as well as distinct burial practices.

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‘Legged coffins with decorations, and an antenna sword also differentiate this culture,’ Manjul said.

The excavations at the site, which began in 2018, are still in progress.

–IANS

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