Sirpur was excavated by the author from 2000 to 2011. Right from 6th c-B.C. it was flourishing trade centre with trade connection with South Asian countries by water rate and with Arabian countries by land route via Surat.
The area having rich deposit of iron, coal copper etc. metal manufacture made a major part of trade and export. Both peace and war items were produced alongwith domestic items of day to day use. Implements recovered from the excavation indicate that at Sirpur metal technology has reached quite a high level of efficiency and this aspect has been discussed in this book.
A. K. Sharma is worldwide known for his inventive contributions in the field of Archaeology. During his 33 years of active career in ASI, he explored and excavated in Jammu and Kashmir, Uttaranchal, North-East India, Madhya Pradesh, Lakshadweep, Maharashtra, Gujrat, Rajasthan, Goa, Haryana, Chbattisgarh and other remote areas. After retirement from ASI he was appointed as OSD in IGNCA to excavate Jhiri with French team. His all excavation reports (22 Books) have been published. He has edited Purasatana, Puraprakash, Purajagat and is editor of Puramanthan, yearly magazine on recent advances in Archaeology. He has established Archaeological Museums at Mansar and Maa Anandmayee smriti Museum at Kankhal (Haridwar). At present he is advisor to the Government of Chhattisgarh and Member of Standing Committee of Central Advisory Board of Archaeology. He is directing excavations at Rajim in Chhattisgarh.
Prabhat Kumar Singh is posted in Directorate, Culture and Archaeology of Chhattisgarh Government and participated in several Archaeological Excavations, Scientific-clearance and Surveys in different parts of the state. He worked in Sirpur excavations for five years. He Directed the Excavation at Madku-Dweep in 2010-11 and report has published by the Directorate. He is the co- author of the books 'Buddhist Bronzes from Sirpur' and 'Secular Monuments of Sirpur' and author of many research articles. Presently he is working in Rajim excavations since 2012.
Praveen Tirkey is employed as Excavation Assistant in Directorate, Culture and Archaeology of Cbhattisgarh Government and worked in Sirpur and Rajim excavations. He also participated in scientific clearance and surveys conducted by the department. He is the co-author of the book 'Secular Monuments of Sirpur' and has published many articles.
Report on metal technology of Sirpur is before you. Instead of publishing complete report of the excavations conducted by us from 2000 to 2011, I thought it better to publish topical reports as and when we completed on different topics as these days it has been noticed that scholars are interested in different topics. Moreover, publication costs have increased.
Writing of complete reports covering all topics is a time consuming job. So far we have published reports on 1. Town-planning and Architecture, 2. Buddhist Bronzes from Sirpur, 3. Ancient temples of Sirpur, 4. Buddhist monuments of Sirpur, 5. Secular monuments of Sirpur, 6. Jainism at Sirpur and Copper-plates and stone inscriptions of Sirpur. Report on minor topics like saddle-quems and mulIers, terracotta objects, beads and bangles, gamesman and play-objects etc. are being written. After covering all topics, comprehensive volumes will be published.
Swarnakars, Sonjhariyas, Tamrakars, Karsar and Lohars (Aghariyas) are traditional metal works of Chhattisgarh from the time these metals were exploited. Till recently the finished good were supplied to the society straight without middle-man.
I am thankful to my colleagues Shri Prabhat Kumar Singh and Praveen Tirkey for working hard in writing the above reports. I am also thankful to the Directorate, Culture and Archaeology, Govt. of Chhattisgarh for entrusting the job of excavating at Sirpur to me and to Bodhisattva Nagarjuna Smaraka Samstha va Anusandhan Kendra, Nagpur on whose behalf, I conducted the excavations from 2000-2004.
I am grateful to the Archaeological Survey of India for granting me permission to excavate at Sirpur, A centrally protected site.
Sirpur (Lat. 21 °25' N, Long. 82°11' E) in district Mahasamund of Chhattisgarh state, India, a small village on right bank of Mahanadi was once a large town of considerable importance. In 5th - 8th centuries A.D. Sirpur was the capital of Sarabhapuriyas and Panduvarnsins of Daksina Kosala. Its ancient name was 'Sri pura'. As it contained a great number of dwelling houses, for all classes, king's palace, numerous temples and was situated in a forested country it was called 'pura', i.e. Sripura.
Urban development and city planning which developed during Harappan Period, the example of which are great cities like Mohenjodaro, Harappa, Lothal, Kalibangan, Rupar, Dholavira, etc., survived during Early Historical period and later on in Daksina Kosala (Chhattisgarh), the outstanding examples of which are Sirpur, Malhar, Ratanpur etc. Out of these, so far, only Sirpur has been excavated on a large scale, giving a glimpse of city planning and architecture.
Somavamsi king Nannadeva's son Tivardeva (grandson of Indrabala) captured Daksina Kosala after defeating Sarabhapuriya king Mahapravararaja as at this time we get Tivardeva's inscription from Sirpur and adjoining areas, in which he has been described as ruler of entire Kosala (middle of 6th century A.D.). At this time Sirpur was at its Golden Era and reached the peak of glory. It is during this period that art, architecture, iconography and literature freely grew and Sirpur's fame spread tod far off places. Probably it is due to this fame, Chinese traveler Hiuen- T -sang visited Sirpur in 639 A.D. He wrote that the inhabitants were tall, dark and prosperous. The king was ksatriya and very benevolent. He discovered here as many as hundred Buddhist monasteries inhabited by about 10,000 monks belonging to the Mahayana sect, and more than 150 temples.
The Buddhist association of Sirpur, suspected as early as 1881-82 by Cunningham on the basis of the find of colossal head of Buddha and partly confirmed by the discovery of a complete inscribed image of Buddha in the first decade of the 20th century was borne out by unearthing of bronze images of Buddha and other Buddhist deities from a Buddha-vihar (SRP-31) located north of the market place and eight more Buddha-viharas.
Mahasivagupta Balarjuna's Laksamana temple stone inscription says that his father Harsagupta was married to Suryavarma's daughter Vasata. Suryavarma was the son of Isanavarma (c. 551 AD.).
Polamburin copper plate, "तिवर नगर भवन गतपरम युवती ह्रदय जान विहरण रति" Visnukundina King Madava Varman I captured entire Tivaranagar. As per Prof. Mirashi Tivaranagar was Tivardeva's capital and as such the time is middle of 6th cen. A.D. He has put Tivaradeva's date as 560 A.D. This king's three inscriptions found earlier are:
1. Rajim copper plate,
2. Baloda copper plate and
3. Bonda copper plate.
In 2002-2003 two large stone, inscriptions were discovered by the author during excavation of a lavishly carved Buddha Vihara (SRP-5), with a huge monolithic Buddha image in bhumisparsa mudra. One of the stone inscriptions has six partly visible and partly eroded lines. In the third line 'वरदेव ' (Varadeva) is clear. Before Va word, the eroded word which is like 'ती' (Ti) gives clear indication of king Tivaradeva of Sirpur.
The right half of another stone inscription discovered, in its fifth line gives the name 'श्री हर्ष ' (Sri Harsa). This Harsa appears to be the son of Chandragupta, who was the brother of TIvaradeva.
According to Pandit Lochan Prasad Pandey Mahasivagupta Balarjuna's (son of Harsagupta and Vasata). Kingdom was spread up to Eastern seas (Daksina Kosala, East Kosala, Tosala, Utkal and Odra (ओड्). In Laksamana temple inscription Harsagupta has been described as Praka-Paramesoara (प्राक् -परमेश्वर). In Lodhiya copper plate Balarjuna has been described as Tri Kalingadhipati (त्रिकलिंगधि-पति). This was issued in the 57th year of his rule. He ruled from 595 to 650 AD., for nearly 60 years.
According to D.C. Sircar, either Balarjuna or his successor was defeated by Chalukya King Pulkeshin II. In Pulkeshin II's Aihole inscription it is said that he was the monarch of entire Daksinapath and his kingdom spread up to Narmada. According to Bilhari inscription, son of Kalchuri King Kokalla, Mugdhatung snatched Pali from Kosala king. Inscription of Nala king Vilas tung, found at Rajim also indicates in this direction. Ratanpur inscription of Kalchuri king Jajalladev I made Tuman as his capital and Daksina Kosala came under his domain.
Dr. M.G. Dikshit got 106 Kalchuri coins in Sirpur excavations. Similarly he got structural remain of Period II which are of Kalchuri period. It appears that after Balarjuna Sirpur, got neglected and lost its capital status.
The excavations by Dr. M.G. Dixit, in the habitation area has revealed three periods of occupation during Early Historical times. Period 1, dates back to the last quarter of the 5th century AD. as indicated by a fragmentary gold coin of king Prasannamatra of the Sarabhapuriya dynasty. Period II dates back to 6th to 8th century AD. This period of Panduvamsi dynasty witnessed large scale structural activity, attested to by several brick and stone temples (majority are Siva temples), Buddhist monasteries, palace complex, priest houses and attached water tanks. Period III attribute to the 11th century AD. and after, is datable to the Kalachuri dynasty of Ratanpur branch. It comprises of structures built by reusing material mostly of the earlier periods.
Beglar (1872) and Cunningham (1981-82) have described the presence of many Brahmanical, Saivite, Buddhist and Jain establishments at Sirpur. So far scientific exploration and careful plotting of the high and low mounds, (which are archaeological sites) has brought to light 184 mounds spread within the boundaries of above mentioned area. Out of these 184 sites 39 sites have been excavated from 2000 to 2011
The present excavations which began in 2000 AD. have so far brought to light seventeen Siva temple complexes, a trinity temple, eight Buddha uiharas, three Jain viharas, a sprawling palace complex, a chieftain's residence, six residences of priests and a modest residence of Mahasivagupta Balarjuna (SRP-6) meant for religious occasions, in the Pancayatana Siva temple complex and world's biggest market complex. From one of the rooms of his residence, a seal with the inscription reads Mahasivagupta-rajas' in 7th cent. AD. Brahmi was recovered. Before Cod the king never prefixed word 'Maha'.
On 18th November 2011, a one line stone inscription in kutila Brahmi reading 'Sri Mahasivagupta rajadevasya' has been found. Below the inscriptioii' on the right side traders guild's insignia in rectangular form has been engraved. This nearly 1.0 m. long and 55 cm. broad white lime stone was installed by the guild while getting inaugurated their hall. At this occasion a yajnas was performed by the guild for which a hawan-kanda made of burnt bricks was constructed. It is obvious that the king also participated in the yajna. Such evidence of organized trader's guild has come to light for the first time anywhere in the world.
Geology and Environment
The geological formation in the area dates back from Archaen times to recent Pleistocene. The flat to gently dipping sedimentary beds of Cuddapah, or Purana sedimentary rests uncomfortably on the Archaen granites and gneisses. Uplands run parallel to the Mahanadi and lie close to it. These uplands rise from about 300 m. at the foot to about 400-500 m., at the top. The Archaen and Precambrian rock series include mica schist, phyllites, hematite, quartzite, basic lava flows and tuffs.
The Satpura belt of metamorphosed sediments and igneous materials also occur in the area. Lateritic, an iron-rich vesicular dark brown or black colored mottled rock is often found capping the hill tops. The area is also dotted with sandstone and shells belonging to the upper Gondwana system of the Lower cretaceous period. There are extensive horizontal types of gritty and conglomeratic, quartzite and fine purplish sandstone with spots of green chlorite and pink or buff shales.
The Mahanadi rises in the Sihawa range and after collecting a number of streams, traverses the Mahasamund district in south-easterly direction but near Sirpur it flows in northeasterly direction with a deviation of nearly 23° east. Sirpur region falls in the transMahanadi Plain (north) in the drainage system of Chhattisgarh.
Sirpur region enjoys typical tropical rainy climate with almost dry winters. The temperature varies from 19.8°c to 46°c in May. The area is fed by monsoon rains and gets about 140 cm. of rain in a year. About 95% of the rainfall occurs between June and September-October. During the summer while the plains around Sirpur is extremely hot, the hills around are pleasantly cool. Sirpur is surrounded by low hills on the north-east to southeast which are mostly composed of sand-stone formations with thick jungles. The area around Sirpur consists mostly of alluvial soils which are fine dark and deep. At upper levels it is yellow sandy soil with some admixture of clay, light in texture and suitable for rice cultivation. It is locally known as Matasi-below it lays very thick layer, 1.5 to 2.00 m., of greenish fine sandy clay formed as a result of series of flooding and decomposition of organic material like leaves and vegetation of the thick forests. Floods in the flood-plains of Mahanadi are a recurring feature due to its low embankments and wide area.
Sirpur is surrounded on almost all sides, particularly on its right banks with deep forests. These forests grow Teak, Sal, Tendu, Bija, Sisham, Mahua, Harra, Bahera, Amla, Kusum, Char, Palash, Kauha, Bel, Bhilwan, Ber, Khair, Karra, Semal, Kumhi, Bamboo etc.
The most common animals found around Sirpur are: Monkey (Semnopithecus entellus) locally known as 'kalmuha bendra', Tiger, Leopard, Indian otter, Mongoose, Jackal, the stripped Hyena, Indian fox, Indian sloth-beer, Indian bear, the Nilgai, spotted deer and Sambhar. In the villages cattle, sheep and goat are common. Mahanadi and numerous ponds and tanks in Sirpur abound in varieties of fish. Jungle cock, peafowl, bush-quail, green pigeon and spur fowls are common in the area.
Apart from summer and winter crops of paddy, gram and wheat in summer months, on the sands of Mahanadi plenty of vegetables specifically water-melon is grown. Now-a-days water melon is a major export item to as far of places as Nagpur by tempos and trucks and has become a major secondary source of income for the villagers. Another major export item is slate. Slate quarries in Mahanadi supply the entire need of the slate slabs of the region.
In the Indian sub-continent urbanization have started around 3000 B.C. as archaeological evidences unearthed at Harappa, Mohenzodaro, Lothal, Kalibangan, Dhaulavira, Rupar etc. These are the sites of Indus valley civilization, but the process of urbanization never dies as per assumptions of some western scholars. It continued in different areas right up to 15th century A.D. The township of Sirpur is one such example which flourished right from Satvahana to Kalchuri period though due to lack of royal patronage its decline is seen during Kalchuri period as the Kalchuri rulers had their Capital at Tuman and later at Ratanpur.
About the ancient routes in Sirpur (Mahesh Chandra Shrivastava) the north-south route passed though the present village of Senkapat in south which he thinks was the army headquarters as the name indicates. In the east it passed though Turturia, Narainpur, Sheorinarayan leading to Cuttak where the Mahanadi joins the Bay of Bengal. The road ran almost parallel to the river course. In the south it passed though Arang, Rajim, and Sirkitti as a port has been found at this place. This was the ancient river route though which trade took place, through water route to South-East Asian countries.
The land route lead to Surat in Gujrat as a Persian seal inscribed 'Bandare- Mubdrak-Surat' has been recovered from the market area at Sirpur. Trade was by barter system. The main items of export were rice, iron and metal objects, finished artifacts of gold (gold was extracted from the gold mine at Sona-khan village which is located ten kms. north-east of Sirpur, whereas in exchange it was precious metal, gems and masala. Traders also came to Sirpur for medical treatment as plenty of Ayurvedic herbs grew around. Treatment for various ailments was also done though oil and medicinal bathes as several underground bath-kundas have been unearthed in the market area.
One of the reasons for having worship places of different religions at Sirpur is the arrival of traders belonging to different faiths who were allowed by the rulers and public to practice their faith without any hindrance.
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