BRAHMAGIRI

 

Brahmagiri (ಬ್ರಹ್ಮಗಿರಿ) (brahmagiri)  is an important site for more than one reason. It is situated in Chitradurga district of Central Karnataka near by Siddapaura another mile stone in the history of archaeology of this region. A couple of minor rock edicts of Ashoka dating back 250 B.C. were found here as early as 1891. This discovery was made by B.L.Rice and helped hugely in fixing the southern borders of the Mauryan empire. These edicts palyed a stellar role in determining the antiquity of Kannda because ‘isila’ a word deciphered in one of them is deemed to be the earliest dated Kannada word found in an inscription.  The word meaning ‘fort’ was also the name given to those regions. Isila was the head quarters of the Mahamatras of Suvarnagiri.

Brahmagiri has acquired greater importancae as an excavtion site revealing pre historic habitations. The history of excavations in this place begins with the pioneering work of M.H.Krishna in 1940. (IAR Mysore Arch. Dept. for 1940, p. 63)  This was continued by R.E.Mortimer Wheeler in 1947 on behalf of the Archaeological Survey of India. Their work was given a further impetus in 1956 by M. Sheshadri and Amlananda Ghosh in 1965 and 1978.

M.H.Krishna excaveted different parts of this region and found sixteen trenches containing various structures and material. He identified five different cultural stratas called Microlithic, Neolithic, Iron age, Mauryan and Chalukya-Hoysala strata. He designated the first one ie the Microlithic as the ‘Roppa Culture’ because it was found in the vicinity of that village. Mortimer Wheeler who discovered Rouletted ware among Krishn’s collection divided the structures in to three periods: Period 1: Neolithic or Neolithic-Chalcolithic, Period 2: Megalithic Culture, Period 3: Early historical culture. M.Sheshadri re explored the site in 1956 and found tools made of jasper, agate, cornealean, opal and chert. These were assigned to the phase 1 of R.E.M. Wheeler. Quite a few black painted red ware, shreds of some fabric and two copper objects were found in 1965 and 1978 by Amalananda Ghosh. Let us go in to a brief description of each of these periods.

The first period, (neo lithic period) (early 1st millennium to the beginning of the 2nd century B.C.) is characterized by instruments made of stone rather than metal. Polished stone axes made of dolerite were found here. The other lithic tools include parallel-sided blades and microliths such as crescents, beaked gravers, blades with crested ridge. Pottery vessels with coarse drawings or carvings were also found. These bowls were globular or shallow and they wer often spouted. The burial practices of this period were different for adults and children. The infants had their bodies folded and then they were buried in urns. On the contrary adukts were laid down in an extended fashion and they were buried in pits.

Metal came in to prominent use during the second period. (2nd century B.C to the middle of the 1st century A.D.) They were used both for agriculture and weaponry. Sickles, spears, arrow heads and swords are some of these instrumnets. The pottery was of a different kind. It is of mainly three varieties: highly polished black-and-red ware, all-black ware and bright as well as coarse dull-red ware. 
The burial practice during this period was again different.
They were done in stone cists or excavated pits which were surrounded by boulders arranged in the shape of a circle or concentric circles. The cists also contained funeral pots and objects like iron implements and beads.

The third period viz early historic period (the middle of the. 1st century to the 3rd century A.D.)  is obviously much more advanced and contains pottery which was made on fast wheels. They contain dishes, pots, cups and vases painted in white with geometrical shapes. Many ornamnets such as bangles made of shell, clay, brass and gold were also found. 

It is assumed that the Ashokan edicts were addressed to the people living during the first period.

References. 1. Ghosh, Amalananda [1990] (1990). An Encyclopaedia of Indian Archaeology. BRILL. ISBN 9004092625.

                   2. Kennedy, Kenneth A. R. [2000] (2000). God-Apes and Fossil Men: Paleoanthropology of South Asia. University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0472110136.

                  3.  Kipfer, Barbara Ann [2000] (2000). Encyclopedic Dictionary of Archaeology. Springer. ISBN 0306461587.

                  4. purAtattva shOdhane Dr S.Srikanta Shastry, 1960, Prasaranga, University of  Mysore, Mysore. (Kannada)

                  5. Excavation Sites in Karnataka - Archaeological Survey of India

                  6. Indian Archaeology in Retrospect, Volume I: Prehistory ... 

 

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