“Evidence doesn’t lie. History maybe accurate, but archaeology is precise”-Doug Scott
Kashmir has a rich history when it comes to artefacts and ancient antiquities. One such archaeological site which is situated around 16kms north-east of Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir is Burzahom. It is the oldest proof of existence of humans in the valley of Kashmir and was even nominated for the tag of UNESCO World Heritage Site
Burzahom is the combination of two Kashmiri words- Burz and HAMA which means Burza trees and home respectively. It is believed that this place got this name because it was on high altitude and had numerous trees of Burza at that time. It is the first archaeological site in the country that revealed the existence of Neolithic Settlement in Kashmir.
In 1936, during the British rule, for the very first time, a survey was carried out and it lasted for about 10 years. After investigation, proofs found here belong to 4 different periods. Periods I and II represent the Neolithic era; Period IlI the Megalithic era; and Period IV represent the Post-megalithic period. Through these proofs, information about the lifestyle of the people, tools they used for hunting and farming 5000 years ago was gathered.
Let’s look at the discovery of each period.
One of the most important discoveries in this period was that of ‘pits’ which were circular and oval in shape due to compact Karewa soil formation. Some deep pits had steps and ladder access, some had ash and charcoal layers, some were shallower and some were used as dwellings. Stone hearths were also found showing habitation activities at the ground level. All these things depicted human occupancy.
It was revealed that people moved out from pits and started to build structures at the ground level. They filled the pits with mud plaster and painted the mouth in red ochre. Floors were made of rammed Karewa soil. One of the most interesting features was a red-ware pot with a horned figure painted on it. Hunting tools such as rectangular harvesters with a curved cutting edge, long sized needles, a long hollow bones, etc were found here.
It suggests a gradual transition between the two phases. Huge Menhirs rough in shape were brought down from the hills. It was installed to mark notable events of the community. Few copper arrowheads were found that suggested people had knowledge of metallurgy.
It was the last phase of human occupation at Burzahom. Mud bricks were used to made houses. Pottery was superior and even iron antiquaries were also found.
Other than these, the most interesting thing that was found here was a female skull with multiple holes in it. Even first ever surgical practice was also emerged during the Neolithic Age. It is popularly known as trepanning or trepanation. Some believed drilling holes in the skull of a living person was related ritual offerings or magical practices or for some medical reasons.
The history of Kashmir started from this place 5000 years ago. Burzahom is the archaeological site of utmost importance. It’s a storyteller of life of people of Kashmir and should be preserved for the coming generation.