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Kutbal excavation: Bureaucracy interrupts history

Source: PTI
Last updated on: September 22, 2005 12:37 IST
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The unravelling of history of Kashmir has been caught in red-tapism as further excavation at the Kutbal archaeological site, which recently yielded signs of having been home to a first century civilisation, has come to a halt for want of compensation to land owners.

"We have not been able to carry on with the excavation at the Kutbal site as the case of compensation to the land owners has not been settled yet," deputy director archives, archaeology and museums, Mohammad Shafi Zahid told Press Trust of India.

Zahid and his team of archaeologists chanced upon the evidence of first century civilisation early in 2005 after some rare artefacts belonging to the period of Kushana kings appeared in Anantnag district.

Zahid said the excavations carried out so far indicate that it was the rule of king Lalitaditya during which the civilisation was at its peak and even this might just be the tip of the iceberg.

"Looking at what we got so far, I am sure this civilisation must be at par with Harappan civilisation," he said.

Pending the resolution of compensation case, the department of archaeology has launched a massive awareness campaign to inform the people in general and intelligentsia about the history of Kashmir and the need to protect it, Zahid said.

"For the time being, we are making all out efforts to make people aware about the excavations and their significance to Kashmir history. An exhibition is on for the purpose and the response so far has been good," he said.

Zahid said the response of the public so far has shown that there is a lot of curiosity to know about the composite cultural heritage of the state.

Giving details of the excavation made so far, he said the team first came across magnificient stamped tiles after several days of digging. These tiles form a circular pavement with a variety of motifs.

In the centre is a lotus design with central pieces or kamalaghata, and petals forming a circle, he said.

Besides this, many other motifs have been made by the artists to create a beautiful sequences and designs. Some of these motifs are very unique and have been found for the first time in Kashmir such as dancing girl, akin to harvan lady but in association with certain mythical scenes, Zahid said.

Another motif has an elephant with its rider drawn so realistically that it seems alive. Yet another depicts a fish below which there is the motif of Kamalavriksha (lotus plant), a symbol of ancient faith, Zahid said. All these tiles are numbered in classical kharishti numerals, which have been placed on the border of the tiles, he added.

He said the Kutbal findings are "unique" in many ways. They can help in reconstruction of socio-cultural history and prove that Kashmir valley civilisation was very advanced even 2000 years ago.

The Kutbal site and its findings, which belong to the Kushana period, are more significant in view of several religious and artistic practices that had flourished then and had travelled to far off places in India, he added.

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