Kolkata: Recent archeological excavations at the Dum Dum mound could very well rewrite the history of the origins of this city.
The city, as was always known, had come into existence with the arrival of Job Charnock who consolidated the three villages of Kalikata, Sutanuti and Gobindapur to create the urban centre known as Kolkata or erstwhile Calcutta.
However, recent excavations, at the raised ground towards the north of Clive House — the oldest building in the city — have yielded remains of an urban settlement dating back to 2nd Century BC. The site remained in occupation almost till modern time, with a break during the 12th to 14th Century AD.
Speaking to Gulf News, P K Mishra regional director (east) of Archeological Survey of India (ASI) said: “Our findings reveal Kolkata was not a creation of Job Charnock, but it was there much before his arrival, as traces of urban settlement have been found that bears a close resemblance with those found in an urban settlement at Chandraketugarh.”
Artefacts from the excavation are various and include exquisite terracotta plaques and figures from the 2nd and 1st Century BC to 8th-9th Century AD.
Though archaeologists are keen for further excavations, much progress could not be made as the site is surrounded by a densely populated urban centre and further excavation could risk damaging nearby buildings.
“An extensive excavation is required to understand the real history of the city. But whatever we have found is enough to rewrite the history of the city,” claimed Mishra.
The excavation has proved that Kolkata was inhabited by civilised people who used materials normally found in an urban settlement. The discovery of various things bearing close semblance at many artefacts that hints that the settlement was an extension of Chandraketugarh.
Archeologists are keen to continue digging as many believe that the revelations will not only give a complete understanding of the origins of Kolkata, but they may as well unearth a whole city.
“It is important that we continue the excavation, as not only we will know about the history of the origin of the city but also of the country and it early settlers. The habitation deposits are approximately 3.5 metres from the surface and we have not yet reached half the distance,” said Ashok Kumar Patel superintendent of ASI.
Though evacuation of this site started as late as 2001, ASI officials came to understand its importance by chance, when a telecom company digging for laying cables dug up a plaque with inscriptions.