BHUBANESWAR: The ancient site of Asurgarh Fort near Narla block in Kalahandi district, believed to be from the Maurya period – 322 to 185 BC – actually belongs to the Iron Age.
This was revealed in the international journal “Heritage: Journal of Multidisciplinary Studies in Archaeology” published a week ago.
The journal which reported the dating of the site by Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) said the study pushed the antiquity of the Asurgarh settlement back to around 3,000 years belonging to the Iron Age.
From the dating, it can be safely said that the site of the fort is older than Sisupalgarh, which is considered to date from the 5-6th century BC, around 2,500-2,600 years ago, the head of the excavation wing of ASI, DB Gadanayak, who supervised the excavation at Asurgarh. in 2018-19. AMS dating of the remains of the Sisupalgarh site remains to be done.
He added that the knowledge of iron metallurgy had a significant influence on the socio-economic life and the growth of the fortified establishments of the state.
Asurgarh is one of the sites which originated around the 8th-9th century BC and emerged as one of the earliest fortified urban settlements in the region through the efforts of the tribal and non-tribal inhabitants of the region.
“People of this period had a good knowledge of iron technology and the use of iron tools. The iron materials found during the excavations at the Asurgarh site have not yet rusted as their Fe content was extremely high,” Gadanayak said.
Lokesh Durga, PhD researcher in Department of History, University of Delhi, working on the history of colonization of pre-modern Odisha, says that Asurgarh settlement is older than Sisupalgarh and the first process of urbanization in Odisha started from Asurgarh.
“There is a hiatus in the understanding of the process of social formation at the beginning of the historical period in Odisha and current archaeological findings indicate that there was a social hierarchy in Odisha at the beginning of the first millennium AD. Through the efforts of the tribes in the region who built the settlement of Asurgarh in the 8th-9th century BC which became one of the oldest and longest fortified settlements in pre-modern Odisha,” Durga added.
Earlier in 2019, silver coins, jewellery, precious pearls and rare terracottas excavated from Asurgarh had indicated the existence of a civilization dating back 2300 years (3rd century BC) – from the Mauryan period to the Kushan period.
According to the dating of the material remains recovered during the excavations carried out at the Inter-University Accelerator Center in New Delhi, the entire cultural period of the site is divided into three cultural phases in a time frame ranging from the 9th century BC to the 2nd-3rd century AD. . The excavation revealed three major periods of human occupation without any interruption – the Iron Age, the Early Historical Period and the Late Period.
The site has been declared protected under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act 1958. Asurgarh fort consists of a main fort and an outer fortification. The main fortification covers 12 hectares and there was also an outer fortification, now in ruins.
Currently, the height and width of the fortified enclosure measures 11 mx 7.5 m and the encircled moat measures 36 m in width.