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Current Affairs

Ancient megalith jars of Assam

Date: 13 April 2022 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Ancient megalith stone jars have been discovered in Assam’s Dima Hasao district, suggesting links between northeast India and Southeast Asia.

 

Background

Similar jars have been discovered in south Asian countries of Laos and Indonesia, dating back to second millennium BC.

 

Details

  • The stone jars were for the first time discovered across six sites: Kobak, Derebore, Kartong, Ndunglo, Molongpa and Bolasan.

  • They were sighted by British officers James Philip Mills and John Henry Hutton in 1929. The detailed studies were carried out only in 2014.

 

New studies

  • Stone jars were distinguished through three distinct shapes—bulbous top with conical end, biconcial and cylindrical.

  • Most of the jars were in poor condition due to variety of factors such as weather, forest growth, shifting cultivation and road expansion.

 

Significance

  • The jars have not been scientifically dated but can be compared with similar ones discovered in Indonesia and Laos.

  • Such jars have not been discovered anywhere else in India. This suggested that similar group of people occupied areas between Laos and Northeast.

 

Functions of jars

  • Studies showed that jars were associated with mortuary practices and human remains were found around them.

  • They were referred to as “funerary urns’ as similar practices can be seen in tribes such as Mikir, Kuki, Khasi, Hangkals, Synteng etc.

 

Future studies

  • The next phase of studies would include excavation of materials around the urns and also scientific dating.

  • To understand the extent of the culture, additional surveys need to be carried out in the states such as Manipur and Meghalaya.