Prehistory of Haryana

Prehistory of Haryana

The ancient land of Haryana, which has been traditionally known as a seat of renowned sages, witnessed the historic battle of the Mahabharata, during which Lord Krishna delivered the sacred sermon of the Bhagwad Gita to Arjuna, a Pandava, at Kurukshetra. It is the ancient land of the Aryans that composed well-known scriptures of knowledge, including the four Vedas viz. the Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Atharva Veda and Sam Veda. The history of Haryana is replete with events that shaped the destiny of the people in India.

Many archaeological mounds discovered at several places and investigated during the last 100 years in Haryana have revealed many missing links in the history of Haryana, apart from enabling historians to come up with cultural evidences on the richness of art and culture of the people of ancient Haryana. Cunningham, C. Rodgers  and later on D. B. Spooner and many other scholars  pioneered the archaeological explorations in Haryana. Beginning with the excavated objects, the discovery of StoneAge tools from Pinjore, Chandigarh and Ferozepur Jhirka approves the presence of human life in this region during ancient period.5  Stone tools belonging to lower Palaeolithic age have also been discovered from Dera Karoni, Mansa Devi, Ahian, Dhamla, Kotla, Paplona, Suketri (all in Kalka tehsil occupying the Shiwalik foothills of Ambala district). These tools include choppers, cores, unworked flakes, scrapers, cleavers and hand axes.

Moving on to pre Harappans of the 3rd millennium B.C. belonging to Banawali, Hisar district were skilled in pottery with a wide range of decorative shapes. To decorate them, they used ornaments of gold beads, semi precious stones, terracotta, steatite and bangles of clay, shell and copper. Pre harappans were replaced by Harappans at Banawali about 2300 B.C. The seals of this time prove excellence in craftsmanship, while their terracotta figurines throw light on their folk art. Another Harappan site – Mitathal in Bhiwani district has also become evident of certain findings as gold beads and pieces, arrowheads, razor blades, sickle-hook, chisels and nails of copper and bronze, beads of semi precious stones, terracotta bangles, cakes, marbles, figurines, toy-cart frames and wheels and cakes bearing Harappan characters. The late Harappan culture was widely spread over Haryana and can be gathered from the discovery of its pottery at various sites in the districts of Ambala, Kurukshetra, Karnal, Jind, Hisar, Bhiwani, Rohtak, Mahendragarh and Gurgaon.

In around 1st millennium B.C., a new era began in Haryana with the advent of Painted Grey Ware (PGW). PGW is a typical fine grey pottery painted with black design and has been found from a large number of sites all over Haryana, more specifically in the Kurukshetra region. It has been associated with the Mahabharata period at sites like Panipat, Sonepat, Indraprastha, Baghpat, Tilpat, Kurukshetra, Hastinapur, Barnava and Bairat. This era came under the Vedic age and the tribes that entered India during the Vedic times brought the new culture of composing the hymns that were sung in the praise of gods during sacrifices. These hymns composed by the priests were carefully handed down by the word of mouth to the new generation. The Vedic hymns were composed and recited on the holy banks of the divine rivers- the Saraswati, the Drsadvati and the Yamuna. As the goddess of speech, Sarasvati is associated with Brahma and his creation. It is known as the River Goddess of the Aryans.Drsadvati on the other hand has been associated with the kindling of sacred fire and offerings made by Bharata Princes, Devasravas and Devavata on her banks. River Yamuna has been famous for her traditional associations with Lord Krishna.

he Vedic age also displayed the usage of terracotta, iron, copper, stone, glass, ivory, bones and shells to make artefacts. After PGW, it was NBP (Northern Black Polished) ware that was discovered at Rupar and Sugh in Ambala district, besides Kurukshetra, Panipat, Sonepat and Rohtak. The Mauryan terracottas recovered from several places confirm Mauryan control over the region.

The Palaeolithic Age                   

In the Palaeolithic age, rude stone implements were used as hammers, or as weapons for hunting wild animals or for the purpose of cutting and boring. Such implements were usually made of stone pieces of hard rock called ‘quartzite’. In the early stages of the Palaeolithic Age, pebble tools were made by primitive man. They were prepared from smooth, rounded and rolled pebbles. Pebble tools include crude hard axes, cleavers, scrapers and flakes. In the later Palaeolithic Age, there was improvement in tool making. Hard-axes were made of quartzite, sand stone and chalcedony and they were ovate and pear-shaped.

The Neolithic Age or New Stone Age

The capacity for progress is an inherent characteristic of man. This distinguishes him from an animal. Consequently, after lapse of thousand of years, man reached the neolithic age. In this age also men had to depend solely on stone-implements and were ignorant of any metals. But their implements differed much from those of preceding age. Because, firstly, they used stone other than quartzite, and secondly, they were not merely clipped but in most cases grounded, grooved and polished as well. The man of neolithic age fashioned “his tools out of fire grained dark green trap, though there are examples of basalt gneiss, and stone and quartzite.

The Copper and Bronze Age

The civilization and culture of this copper and bronze age in northern India is supposed to be posterior to that of Indus valley. It comes after the Indus Valley civilization. Because the people of Indus Valley used stone tools, their blades, etc. resembled larger microliths and copper tools and weapons of simplest type.

Archaeological evidences of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Haryana

The archaeological explorations in Haryana began more than a century ago with the efforts of Sir Alexander Cunningham, C.rodgers and later followed by D.B. spooner and many others. These attempts though pioneering were mainly exploratory in nature and largely confined to historical period, hence their full import could not be understood for want of scientific and advance knowledge. B.B.Lal was the first to bring to light archaeological findings for the pre-Buddha history of this region with his discovery of Painted Greyware, protohistoric ceramic industry of the first half of the first millennium B.C. at Kurukshetra, Pehowa, Amin, Panipat, etc.He has associated this pottery with the Aryans of Mahabharata period. The discovery of stone age tools from Pinjore and Chandigarh and Ferozepur Jhirka further suggest the hoary antiquity of the human habitation in this region.

Another attempt in the field of excavation was undertaken for the first time by the Department of Ancient Indian History, Culture and Archaeology, Kurukshetra Universty, Kurukshetra. Dr. Udai Vir Singh, in collaboration with Dr. Suraj Bhan, conducted excavations at Daulatpur, KaranKa-Kila and Mirzapur. Dr. Suraj Bhan started exploration of the region since 1961 and discovered as many as two hundred archaeological sites. He conducted independent excavations at Sugh(1964-65). Mitathal(1968) and Siswal(1970). Jointly with jim. G. Shaffer, he conducted an extensive archaeological survey in northern Haryana bringing to light a number of pre-Harappan, Late Harappan, P.G.W. historical and medieval sites. During Banawali excavations,Shri R.S. Bisht brought to light one of the most important town sites of Pre-Harappan and Harappan cultures of the region. During Bhagwanpura excavations Shri J.P. Joshi of Archaeological Survey of India, adduced for the first time evidence of overlap between the late-Harappans and painted grey ware cultures, a discovery of considerable signifcance for the early cultural and historical study of the region. The above mentioned archaeological discoveries prove beyond doubt that region was inhabited from very early times and was the centre of various cultural and political activity. It perhaps holds the key to some of the fundamental question of an early history and archaeology.

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