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26 February 2004
Oldest stadium and signboard found in India

Recent excavations at the small township of Dholavira, in Kutch, Gujarat (India) have presented to the world some of the oldest stadiums and sign board, built by the Harappan civilization. One of the stadiums, with terraced seats for spectators, around 800 feet in length (around 283 metres) can accommodate as many as 10,000 persons. The other stadium is much smaller in size.
     "It is believed that the bigger stadium was used for a variety of purposes, maybe for makeshift bazaars," said former joint director general of Archeological Survey of India, Dr R.S. Bisht. Apart from the world's first stadiums, Bisht also talked about what could be the world's oldest signboard which was also discovered at the site. The "signboard", with undecipherable inscriptions of the Indus valley civilisation, dates back to the 3000 BCE to 1500 BCE. "It is believed that the stone signboard was hung on a wooden plank in front of the gate. This could be the oldest signboard known to us," said Bisht. The excavations began under Bisht's stewardship in 1990.
     The Harappans were mathematical experts as all the dimensions at the site are based on squares and cubes, Bisht said. "Harappans never allowed vehicular traffic inside their cities which explains the condition of their roads which remained as they were for a long time," he added.
     While natural calamities are widely believed to be the reason for the decline of civilisations, for Dholavira it is believed that the damage was due to frequent earthquakes. "The first quake hit the township around 2800 BCE, the second around 2500 BCE, and the third around 2000 BCE," said Bisht.

Source: The Times of India (19 February 2004)

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