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Are the ‘first-ever’ chariots unearthed by ASI belong to the Mahabharata period?

A few days back, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) unearthed the remains of a chariot that is said to belong to the Mahabharata era. As per the ASI, the chariot dates back to the ‘Bronze Age’ (2000-1800BC). The remains were found at Sinauli, a village of Baghpat district in Uttar Pradesh. What forces us to draw a strong analogy between the relics and the Mahabharata era is the place where they have been excavated. Bhagpat is a district at a distance of merely 5o kilometers from Meerut. And the present-day Meerut is Mahabharata’s Hastinapur – the capital of Kauravas.

It may sound normal to Indians who have deep faith in the epic, its characters, the events, etc. But for archaeologists who live and die on evidence, it is an unprecedented discovery, their claim to fame and a tool to argue with global counterparts that India had a rich, advanced past whose boundaries were not confined to the Indus valley alone. It is the first time that proofs of a chariot being used in India 2000BC have been discovered. The proofs of chariots being heavily used in other ancient civilizations like Mesopotamia, Greece, etc existed for a long time. India had none to demonstrate.  Hence scientifically India is now at par with western civilizations when it comes to the use of chariots.

The excavations have brought to the surface eight burial sites, indicating to the possibility of a ‘royal burial’, and several other artifacts – three coffins, antenna swords, daggers, combs, and ornaments, among others. It is highly possible that these relics are of a warrior class. Since the great epic mentions these places time and again, assuming that the remains are of the descendants of the Mahabharata people will not be exaggeration. The discovery is important in the context that it will inspire archaeologists to carry on their search for more proofs from the epic era. However, the problem lies in the fact that a lot of the sites from that era are highly inhabited. Excavations can not be carried out at these places. But this is the time that the claims of many archaeologists about the the era in bits and pieces get attention and recognition.


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