Antiquity of Kehribal, Martand might be much older than we thought

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by Tahir Bhat

SRINAGAR: A new archaeological survey carried out in the Kehribal and Wantrag area of ​​Martand in South Kashmir by Dr Abdul Rashid Lone suggests that the evidence suggests these are much older places than hitherto assumed. The revelations were part of assessments during a training program in field survey methods in which four researchers – Irfan, Subzar, Yasir and Rasik, participated.

Dr. Lone is Assistant Professor of Archeology in the Department of History, University of Kashmir and teaches the history and archeology of ancient Kashmir.

A copper coin that resembles the Kashmir era coinage of the Samgrama Raja is also found and preserved. Photo: special arrangement.

While providing archaeological field training to research students, currently enrolled in doctoral studies and working on various aspects of the history and archeology of ancient Kashmir, Lone said his team discovered many material cultures. archaeological sites, prior to antiquity of the Kehribal region. Martand some 700 years earlier than previously thought.

A 1900 photograph of the Martand Sun Temple in South Kashmir

Regarding the past of Martand, it is generally believed that the oldest known history of Martand begins with the construction of the Temple of the Sun by Lalitaditya Muktapida of the Karkota dynasty of Kashmir, who built this structure during the 8th century CE. time. Its details are given in Kalhana’s Rajatarangini (tarang IV, verse 192), a unique work in classical literature of early South Asia written in 1148-49 CE in Sanskrit verse kavya style and is divided into eight songs (or taranga), which has nearly 8000 verses.

However, a recent archaeological survey training program conducted in this area has assessed that the first occupations of Kehribal and its surroundings date back to the first century AD, when the valley was under the occupation of Kushanas, a powerful empire. who ruled parts of the south. Asia in the early centuries of the Christian era, and the historical and archaeological evidence of which can be seen in many places throughout Kashmir.

Cowries are small shells that in ancient times were a form of currency. A huge amount of this bygone era currency is guarded by people living in the Kehribal region of southern Kashmir. Photo: special arrangement

During the training sessions, many unexplored villages in this region were studied to provide practical training for the students, where various aspects of past material culture were observed, including pottery from various historical dynasties, huge jars of terracotta storage, pieces of old stone bowls, burnt bricks of various historical dynasties including the Kushanas, rubble masonry bases of ancient structures, coins of some rulers of ancient Kashmir, cowries, millstones, etc. occupied by humans much earlier than previously thought. Some conscious residents have protected and preserved these materials at individual levels and helped scholars better understand Kashmir’s past.

It was not immediately possible to fix the absolute chronology of these material remains to conclude at the time or the dynasty to which these antiquities could belong.

A huge terracotta storage jar measuring 4.5 x 8.5 feet which belongs to the 9th century CE is protected in the Kehribal region of southern Kashmir. Photo: special arrangement

The presence of material remains in relation to the current ecological parameters of the area suggests that the first settlements around Martand Karewa possibly started in the early Christian era, Dr. Lone said.

It is pertinent to mention that some settlements of the Kushana period are located on the mountain tops of southern Kashmir, for example at Daradkut (Huthmura), Hoinar (Lidroo) and Kutbaletc. The Kushana material culture in Kehribal and its surroundings, however, was first observed during the survey. Other important new discoveries include the sites of Ich Nar, Nag Narin and Chitirgul. New explorations in Kutbal, Hoinar and Daradkut have opened new insights related to the pattern settlement behavior of Kushanas in Kashmir.

Preliminary field observations around the area concluded that people in the early historic period were supported by large-scale farming, craft activities, and partially by trade and commerce. Irrigation facilities have been provided to Karewa fields by means of a channel now known as the Shahkul or Ranbir channel, the ancient bed of which was probably dug during the Kushana period.

The textual evidence of the Rajatarangini and archaeological evidence from terracotta cobblestones, a notable feature of Kushana period settlements in Kashmir, at Daradkut, Huthmura, suggests that extensive cultivation of vines was practiced in these regions during the early historic period. Additionally, the location of a large number of mountaintop settlements in this area at the same elevations suggests trade contacts and ties between these settlements and even with outside communities at least in the early historical period.

The remains of fresh material observed during the survey are the subject of an in-depth scientific study and must be cross-checked with the already existing knowledge on the subject, the results of which will be shared separately.






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