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20 June 2003
The Neolithic in India

Recent excavations at Jhusi (India) by the Department of Ancient History, Culture and Archaeology, University of Allahabad, has revealed that this area had become the nuclear region of rice cultivation during the Neolithic phase. "The Chinese and Japanese have traced the cultivation of rice, according to the revised chronology, to 9,000 BCE, while here it could have been earlier or at the same period but definitely not later," says Prof Om Prakash, Head of the Department and Coordinator of CAS Scheme of UGC.
     The excavation has also given the lie to the myth that the Gangetic region was a land of dense jungles. "Agriculture in fact was known and widely practiced in this alluvial region right from the Neolithic times, much before the advent of the so called Aryans," says Prof Om Prakash.
     The excavations at Jhusi, that led to the discovery of nearly 1.5 meters of Neolithic deposit below the Chalcolithic phase, is significant since it presents the proof of cultural continuity from the Mesolithic, through the Neolithic to the Chalcolithic ages, which again continued into the historical period. Earlier, the only indications of Mesolithic culture were available from 200 sites in the mid-Gangetic plain but the Neolithic phase was conspicuous by its absence. It was deduced that there was a cultural break after the Mesolithic age in this region and the settlers of the Chalcolithic phase at Jhusi and other sites were probably not natives of this place.
     The Neolithic phase at Jhusi is characterised by hand made pottery, bone tools, bone arrowheads, fish and animal bones and stone tools. A big structure that might have been used as hearth-cum-pottery-kiln has also been found.

Source: The Times of India (20 June 2003)

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