2,500-year-old city unearthed at Bhubaneswar

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Bhubaneswar, Feb 14: Archaeologists have dug out the remains of a 2,500-year-old fortified city at Bhubaneswar, which they believe was bigger than classical Athens. According to researchers, they have come across a number of artefacts and structures that throw light on the existence of a flourishing urban life during the pre-historic period, which is testimony to the rich civilization of Orissa.

Eighteen pillars were found among the remnants of the grand city at Sishupalgarh, a ruined fortification first discovered 60 years ago. Excavation by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and scholars from universities were resumed in 2001. Excavation has revealed that people inhabited the city was in occupation from the beginning of the third century BC till the middle of the fourth century AD.

The findings of debris of household pottery and terracotta ornaments pointed to an advanced lifestyle and the surface architecture like streets linking the gateways and water storage facilities indicated a huge urban set-up. The polished potteries even have ownership marks on them.

"We have been excavating here since 1995 and still continue to do it. This is our fourth season of excavation. Remnants point to an urban centre. We wanted to see the urban life, how it grew, how it developed, what kind of people lived, how they organised themselves and how they constructed different kind of buildings, houses, monuments," said Rabi Mohanty, Archaeologist, Deccan College, Pune.

The city has four gateways and could have housed up to 20,000 people which is a lot more than classical Athens that only had 10,000 people.

"What we found is that although the pillars are very visible and striking, actually there were many more than we can see. We have discovered 18 new pillars, still more yet to be discovered," said Monica L Smith, Head of Archaeology, University of California.

According to historians, it is one of the earliest historical cities and has been neglected for years.

Ancient Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum were submerged due to natural disasters while Troy and Carthage were destroyed in wars.


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