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11 December 2011
Megalithic site in India may date back to 3300 BCE

During the works for the construction of a road on the outskirts of Obra village in Chatra district (Jharkhand state, India) Subhashis Das, a local megalith expert, came across a series of huge standing stones. This megalithic site may indicate that civilization existed here since Chalcolithic period, corresponding for India to a period of 3300-1200 BCE.
     The site was already partially damaged by villagers who removed several standing stones. "I have tried to educate the villagers about the importance of these sites to preserve them and getting in touch with professionals and researchers to carry out further studies," Das said, adding that the recently discovered site was probably a primitive tribal memorial site having tall menhirs. "The road construction has destroyed a few menhirs, but it has also exposed a couple of burial urns; one of them contained Chalcolithic remains such as copper slags, a ring and a small bell," Das added.
     Archaelogical Survey of India (ASI)'s Ranchi circle N.G. Nikoshey said Jharkhand was full of megalithic sites but they had not obtained any license to excavate those sites. "ASI Ranchi circle has recently been given permission to excavate the Itkhori site in Chatra and carry out exploration in Karbra Kala region of Palamu." In total, 12 monuments in the state are being looked after by the ASI.
     Nikoshey said in the absence of any direct scientific evidence, the date offically aknowledged for these megalithic monuments is around 7th century CE. "Some university or the state archeology department should come up with excavation license, only then the sites could be dated properly," he said. Das, however, stressed that megaliths are the oldest man-made relics of the country, and they face the threat of being gradually obliterated under the pressure of development.
     Deputy archeology director of the state  mitava Kumar said 29 megalithic sites in Hazaribag have been identified to be taken up for conservation by the department under the 13th Finance Commission. "Detailed project report has been prepared for these sites and we hope to include other sites as well in due course," he said.

Edited from The Times of India (5 December 2011)

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