Delhi boasts to have a rich and diverse history that goes back centuries in time. However, the new findings at the Purana Quila expand the timeline little bit further. As per the final round excavation findings at Purana Qila has unearthed traces of painted grey ware. This new grey ware is believed to represent the Iron Age culture of the western Gangetic plain and the Ghaggar-Hakra valley by the experts. The time period this grey ware belongs is said to be the period between 600 BC and 1200 BC. According to an Indian Express report, Project Director, Vasant Swarnkar said, “Traces of painted grey ware or PGW but not yet in the stratified layer were found, which technically establishes the presence of a culture. We shall be able to ascertain with surety once the digging is complete, probably by the end of this financial year.”
This is the fourth and final round of digging at the venue which is about 11 metres below the ground level. ASI team expects to reach the final earth layer, a couple of metres deeper, within the next one month. After the completion of the excavations, the place is expected to turn into a world-class tourist destination to showcase the “cultural continuity” of Delhi.
Purana Qila ‘s citadel is expected to be built under Sher Shah Suri’s rule. It was Sher Shah Suri who established the Sur empire before his death in 1545. But according to ASI’s Swarnkar, the excavations — the last one was in 2013-14 — point to traces from the 3rd century BC, the pre-Mauryan period.
While speaking to The Indian Express, Swarnaka said, “Owing to its location by the Yamuna, the Purana Qila has been an important site for trade and industrial activity in all periods, be it the Mauryan, Shunga, Kushana, Rajput or Mughal eras. During the current excavation, we have also found terracotta, beads, figurines and coins belonging to these dynasties.”
Swarnkar also talked about the site Purana Quila. He said that it is the only place in Delhi that has cultural deposits of the last 2,500 years in its various layers. The deposits are from pre-Mauryan to the modern era.
The first two rounds of excavations were conducted in 1954-55 and 1969-72 — by then ASI director, BB Lal. On the basis of PGW, which archaeologically belongs to the 6th-12th century BC, Lal had claimed that Purana Qila is the Pandava kingdom of Indraprastha, estimating 900 BCE as the period of the war recounted in the epic.
Swarnkar said that post excavations, the site will be covered with a transparent roof and exposed to the public with proper signages and maps, according to a detailed plan. Additionally, an interpretation centre will be set up for visitors, which will tell them about the history and context of the site.