Archaeology

Royal burial in Sanauli

Print edition : September 28, 2018

A royal wooden coffin and alongside it two chariots adjacent to each other excavated by the Archaeological Survey of India at Sanauli. The chassis of the chariots was made of wood and covered with thick copper sheets. The frame was made of copper pipes, including one for attaching an umbrella. Photo: Archaeological Survey of India

An aerial view of the excavated site at Sanauli showing some of the burials. Photo: Archaeological Survey of India

A close-up of the anthropomorphic figure on the coffin lid depicting headgear made of horn and a pipal leaf in the centre. However, another expert view is that the carving is of a bull head. Photo: Archaeological Survey of India

The royal coffin burial being exposed bit by bit and studied by Sanjay Manjul (standing), Director of the excavation, and Arvin Manjul (squatting) Superintending Archaeologist, ASI. Also seen is Ambiliy C.S. (right), Assistant Archaeologist, ASI. The coffin stands on four legs and was made of wood. The entire coffin, including the legs, was sheathed with copper on all sides. The lid had eight motifs carved on it (close-up at left). Later stages of the excavation revealed two full-sized chariots, helmets, a copper ladle, big pots and beads as funerary objects. Photo: T.S. SUBRAMANIAN

One of the two full-sized chariots found near the royal wooden coffin. The chariots are themselves extraordinary finds. The wooden chariots had wheels with copper triangles fastened on them with copper nails. The triangles emanated in three rows radiating from the centre. Photo: Archaeological Survey of India

A copper antenna sword and a copper sword (foreground) with a wooden hilt wound with copper wire. Photo: Archaeological Survey of India

A copper antenna sword and a copper torch with a long handle. These remarkable artefacts of the copper hoard culture were found in two different burials. Photo: T.S. Subramanian

Three big pots with sealed mouths, kept as funerary objects in a coffin burial. Photo: Archaeological Survey of India

An almost intact skeleton of a tall woman found in a coffin burial. The coffin does not have copper sheathing around it and has only a thin antenna sword placed on the ground near the head. An armlet made of agate beads can be made out around an elbow. The pit boasted a variety of pottery, including pots, red vases, bowls and basins. Photo: T.S. Subramanian

Fragmented bones found in one of the coffin burials. This signifies a secondary burial, in which the body is exposed to the elements and the bones that remain are buried in a grave. Photo: Archaeological Survey of India

A cylindrical carnelian bead measuring 5 cm. Photo: Archaeological Survey of India

Several necklaces made of cylindrical steatite beads found in one of the burials. Photo: T.S. Subramanian

Gold beads found in a grave. Photo: Archaeological Survey of India

A small coffin burial that boasted a full-sized chariot, big pots, red vases with tall necks and flared rims, a copper shield, a copper ladle with a long stem, a torch, an antenna sword and hundreds of beads. A helmet made of copper was found upturned on the ground at the base of the coffin. The artefacts show that a warrior tribe thrived here between 2000 BCE and 1800 BCE. Photo: T.S. Subramanian

Grave goods such as the decorated comb with a peacock motif on top and a copper mirror are important in understanding the life of the people of Sanauli in 2000 BCE. Photo: Archaeological Survey of India

A heap of 2-cm-long copper nails. Photo: Archaeological Survey of India

The recent ASI excavation at Sanauli village in western Uttar Pradesh leads to the discovery of several burials, including that of a royal with chariots, swords and helmets, dating to 2000 BCE and belonging to the copper hoard culture.

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