The strange case of the mysterious giant stones found in India

Megalithic sites in Assam were first reported in the early 20th century, but their systematic recording only began in 2014, thanks to a collaboration between Northeastern Hill University, the University of Nagaland and the Archaeological Survey of India – the government agency responsible for conservation. One of the country’s archaeological heritage. A survey conducted in 2020 in Dima Hasawa district of Assam revealed some great new sites, which are popping up today. in the magazine Asian Archeology.

It is possible that the remains were related to funeral rites

The aim of this new research expedition was to identify and precisely locate the various known megalithic sites in Assam. But as the team of experts advanced in the area, other sites emerged. ” At first, the team was convinced to survey three large sites that had not been formally surveyed. From here, networks have been set up to explore densely surrounding forest areas “,” linkedNicholas Scobalan archaeologist at the Australian National University in Canberra and co-author of the study.

Location of newly discovered tractor sites. Credits: T. Thakuria et al., Asian Archeology (2022)

In all, archaeologists discovered 65 new sandstone bowls of various shapes, more or less damaged; Some were very long, cylindrical or conical, others were partially or completely buried in the ground. These objects are also decorated with various motifs. These four new sites add to the other rocky sites previously discovered, but still do not provide any answer as to the origin or usefulness of these stone structures. ” We still don’t know who made the giant urns, or where these people live. It’s all a bit vague Scobal regrets it.

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tractor pictures

Nicholas Scobal and his collaborators discovered photographs of some jars. Credits: T. Thakuria et al., Asian Archeology (2022)

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Interestingly, no sandstone source was found near any of the sites. Moreover, the jars seem to have been placed on the slopes and hills, from where one can see the plains. Some evidence suggests that these giant vessels could have been used during funeral rites. According to the accounts of the Nagas – an ethnic group from northeastern India, comprising about 30 tribes – some of their people have found cremated human remains, beads and other artifacts in Assam jars, the archaeologist explains. Identical finds at other urn sites, particularly in Laos where burial rites were practiced, seem to confirm this theory.

Giant stone urns: an essential element of Indian heritage

The discovery of other similar remains may finally make it possible to clarify the mystery; Experts are convinced, however, that there is still much to discover in the area. ” The team only searched in a very limited area, so there are likely more, but we don’t know where they are just yet. Trust the researcher.

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The first stone jar sites in Assam were formally described in 1929, by Philip Mills and John Henry Hutton, two British government officials; They then report the discovery of six sites. The seventh was only discovered in 2016-2017, as part of an expedition to catalog sites previously described. With these four new sites, 797 jars have been identified over an area of ​​300 square kilometres.

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For archaeologists, identifying and reporting these sites is fundamental to the preservation of Indian heritage. In fact, no existing ethnic group in India appears to be associated with these utensils; However, due to human activities in the area – particularly the clearing carried out to increase arable land – remnants of the past can be destroyed even before they are discovered. Assam vaults contain oil and natural gas and the exploitation of these resources can also harm the preservation of this heritage.

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Thus, the researchers are working to find all the possible locations for the giant tractors, with the help of local communities that help them advance through the mountain forest. ” Once sites are registered, it becomes easier for the government to work with local communities to protect and maintain them so that they are not destroyed. Nicholas Scobal confirms.

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