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India’s oldest living city found in Vadnagar

Published: 18th Jan, 2024

Context

A joint study by the IIT (Kharagpur) has found evidence of cultural continuity in Vadnagar even after the Harappan collapse.

About

About the findings

  • Deep archaeological excavation has found evidence of a human settlement that is as old as 800 BCE contemporary to late-Vedic/pre-Buddhist Mahajanapadas or oligarchic republics.
  • The excavations indicated the various aspects concerned with central Asian invasions into India and attributed some of them to severe change in climate like rainfall or droughts.
  • Excavation revealed the presence of seven cultural stages (periods) namely:
  • Mauryan, Indo-Greek,
  • Indo-Scythian or Shaka-Kshatrapas (AKA ‘Satraps’, descendants of provincial governors of ancient Achaemenid Empires,
  • Hindu-Solankis,
  • Sultanate-Mughal (Islamic)
  • Gaekwad-British colonial rule and the present settlement.
  • One of the oldest Buddhist monasteries has been discovered during the excavation.
  • Further findings revealed the characteristic archaeological artefacts, potteries, copper, gold, silver and iron objects and intricately designed bangles. Also found were coins moulds of the Greek king Appollodatus during the Indo-Greek rule at Vadnagar.

Why these findings are significant?

Busts the myth of Dark Age:

  • The evidence of cultural continuity in Vadnagar showed — even after the Harappan collapse, thus making it likely that the “Dark Age” was a myth.
  • The period between the collapse of the Indus Valley Civilisation and the emergence of the Iron Age and cities like Gandhar, Koshal, and Avanti is often depicted as a Dark Age by archaeologists.

Rare archaeological evidence:

  • Archaeological records are rare, the earliest one being the rock-inscription of Emperor Ashoka during the Mauryan period (320-185 BCE) at Sudarsana Lake, Girnar hill, Gujarat.
  • This makes Vadnagar the oldest living city within a single fortification unearthed so far in India.
  • Some of our recent unpublished radiocarbon dates suggest that the settlement could be as old as 1400 BCE contemporary to very late phase of post-urban Harappan period.

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