Sunday, June 28, 2020

Those early man tools found in Sikkim - iii

Sikkim Prehistoric Exploration (2002 & 2004)
In 2002 & 2004, the archaeologist team from Prehistory Branch of Archaeological Survey of India, Nagpur again found few interesting Neolithic material around Rumtek-Martam area. The team led by P.K. Mishra, Superintendent Archaeologist, ASI, Nagpur surveyed around Martam, Adampool, Rumtek, Samdur and Sajyong areas in the East district. 29 Neolithic Agriculture tools along with other objects were recovered from these areas. The most excellent part of the exploration was the findings of a fossilized antelope horn in Sajyong area near Rumtek that was reported to about 1,50,000 years old.

The complete excavation report had been published on a book “Archaeological Exploration in Sikkim” written by Dr. PK Mishra. The book provides the report of the excavation done in the year 2002 and 2004 at Sikkim by the team led by Dr. Mishra from Pre-historic Branch of the Archaeological Survey of India.  The book also illustrates photographs with information of early man artifacts discovered from over two dozen Neolithic sites from North and East Sikkim. 

Dr. Mishra writes those tools recovered from Sikkim were collected from the fields, under step cultivation and even from the local people who thought that those were “Chattang ko Dunga” or the “Vajra Dunga” stone from heaven. This reminded me of an interesting point from a well-read book “Lepcha – My Vanishing Tribe” by AR Foning. The author AR Foning writes about his experience with “Sadaer Longs”, the so-called thunder stones that the old folks used to say as possessing ‘blessings from the Thunder God’.

According to “Archaeological Exploration in Sikkim, "interesting aspect of the excavation done at Sikkim pushed a significant breakthrough in the world of archaeology, the scholars considers that the region of Sikkim as a corridor through which the Neolithic Celt making techniques entered India from the South East Asia.  The tools found in Sikkim were derived from dolerite, shale, slate and fossil woods. “The typological analysis of the tools suggests two phases in their development, which forms the basis for a twofold schema that has been introduced for their identification. These phases are: (i). Early phase with tools being wholly chipped and the edge ground. (ii). Later phase with pecked and edge ground and fully ground tools. Using this schema, the early phase shows common features with Hoabihian Culture of South East Asia dated to 10,000 B.C., and later phase assignable to 8000 B.C. shows a close affinity with that of South China and South East Asia.”

I am sure these findings take back the origin of the land of Sikkim way back as we had never thought off. I still remember a news article published in ‘Now’ (Feb 19-25, 2003 – Sarikah Atreya) newspaper covering this very excavation said the most excellent part of the exploration was the findings of a fossilized antelope horn in Sajyong area near Rumtek that was reported to about 1,50,000 years old. But somehow nothing is more written about the fossilized horn in any of the pages on the ‘book’. The other major breakthrough of the excavation was the carbon dating of one of the Neolithic tools dating back beyond 2,500 BC in the East District of Sikkim.

Off course, in order to ascertain the route through which Neolithic Culture entered Sikkim, further work has to be conducted. Several research works are to be done on different subjects in Sikkim that might well place the age of Sikkim par the stage of early primitive. Study on Sikkim Primitive, a fossilized maize variety found in Sikkim in the 1950s has made Sikkim the secondary origin of maize after Mexico. Much-talked human footprints scattered in places of Sikkim could provide ample chances of early man’s footprint rather than surrounded by myths. Presence of one of the oldest molar teeth of the human ancestors on earth dating some eleven million years old found in Nepal, results of the Neolithic tools found around Kalimpong and Peking Man found in China might create ripple of the presence of the more traces of the early men in Sikkim!'

Published in Sikkim Express - 28. 06. 2020

SGSS organizes a meet; observes ‘Veeron ko Naman’

Singtam, June 28: An important meeting of members of Shantinagar Gaon Sudhar Samiti was held at Badminton Court, Shantinagar, near Rani Khola Walkway maintaining the social distance. Highlight of the meet was discussion of various topics related to the betterment of the society of Shantinagar.

Krishna Chettri, President spoked about the Sikkim state government initiate ‘Veeron ko Naman’ and two minute silence towards the tribute for the Galwan Valley valours was also observed. Members present on the occasion offered candle lights to the brave soldiers.

Awareness program on selling of liquor was informed. Deepa Chettri, Panchayat, Shantinagar Ward No. 5, Chisopani GPU spoked about the renewal of the trade license. She had strictly informed the gathered audience not to sell liquor without authorized license.

Krishna Chettri, President, SGSS informed everyone that Shantinagar is a blessed land; here we have Sai Mandir, Church, Gumpa, Archigos Preparatory Academy and ATTC Hostel. So it is better we should make our society better by not selling illegal liquor without authorized license. SGSS will also do regular follow-up of this matter, he added.

Chettri informed about the importance of blood donation whereas members came forward to give their names for blood donation. The date of blood donation would be later announced, read the press release.

The meeting passed on different resolution; Shantinagar Gaon Sudhar Samiti would give a proposal to the state government for the suggested land for the Shantinagar ICDS centre, Community Hall and SGSS Samaj Ghar. An application for the construction of footpath from the donated land of Shri HN Sharma to SGSS at NH 10 to Rani Khola Walkway would also be placed to the State Government, informed press release.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Those early man tools found in Sikkim - ii

Sikkim Prehistoric Exploration (1980)

Once while surfing the web page on internet I came across the name of K.N Dixit, member of Indian Archaeological Society, through him another chapter of the prehistoric exploration in Sikkim was about to be unfolded. Dixit was kind enough to send me an attachment of two scanned pages on Sikkim Prehistoric exploration in 1980 published in Indian Archaeological Society “Puratattva”. The article reports on the pre-historic potentialities of Sikkim exploration undertaken by Prehistory Branch of Archeological Survey of India, Nagpur in October- November 1980.

The certain places of North Sikkim and East Sikkim were preferred in view of different geographical and climatic forms for the purpose where-off headquarter of the entire exploration was set up at Singhik near Mangan. Exploration was conducted along River Teesta and its tributaries, entire Djangu (Dzongu) area up to Dikchu on the west while places up to Lachen and Lachung in extreme north was covered.

Well-polished Neolithic stone tools were recovered from different locations in North Sikkim. The tools included harvesters (2), knife (1), axes (7), adzes (13) and single and double perforated celts (3). These tools were mostly schist, shale and a few pieces on basalt. Highlight of the findings in North Sikkim was beautiful single eyed harvester and Honan Knife. A polisher having three conclave working sides and perforation on the top was recovered from the village north of Chungthang on the way to Lachen.

Except for a single polisher, no major tools were recovered from the area north of Mangan. The places in North Sikkim where the tools were recovered included Lingthen, Lingdon, Barpak, Sankalan, Gytong, Sangdong, Gnon, Tarang, Gor-Tarand and Linkyong. In a short exploration in the district of East Sikkim around Pakhyong, six polished celts comprising two axes, four adzes and a single polisher were recovered.

The article confirmed the perforated harvesters and Honan Knife being typical of the South Chinese Neolithic assemblage. Harvesters with one or more perforation in rectangular or semi lunar shape had been reported from the provinces of Honan in China. Similar single perforated celts had also been reported from Kiangsu Province. But double perforated celt was typical of Sikkim.

Enthralling it had been found in the villages of the North Sikkim that the local people considered the Neolithic tools as a source for the betterment of material life. These tools were worshiped and used in medicinal purposes particularly at the time of child birth. They called those tools “Vajra Dunga”!

Those early man tools found in Sikkim - i

Not only old, but the existence of the Himalayan land of Sikkim is looked upon more as being a part of ancient times. The archaeological findings of different Neolithic tools in this part of the Himalayas over the last six decades speak its antiquity.
It may be of little importance to many but still, findings of various Neolithic tools from the remote pockets in Sikkim over the past five decades have collected vivid interest in people beyond this region. On three separate occasions Neolithic tools had been dug out from Sikkim that unfolded the age of this Himalayan mountain land much against the period we had supposed. “The term Neolithic Period, or New Stone Age, defines the second period, at the beginning of which ground and usually polished rock tools, notably axes, came into widespread use after the adoption of a new technique of stone working. With the beginning of the Neolithic, the retreat of the last glaciers, and the invention of food crops, involving agriculture and animal domestication, were more or less the contemporary events.

During this time, humans cultured to raise crops and possess domestic livestock, and were thus no longer reliant on hunting, fishing, and collecting wild plants. Neolithic humanities made more valuable stone tools by grinding and polishing relatively hard rocks, rather than merely chipping softer ones down to the desired shape. The farming of cereal grains enabled Neolithic societies to build long-lasting dwellings and come together in villages. The freedom from nomadism and a hunting-gathering economy gave them the time to track specialized crafts.
Archaeological evidence indicates that the changeover from food-collecting cultures to food-producing ones gradually occurred across Asia and Europe from a starting point in the Fertile Crescent. Cultivation and animal domestication first appeared in southwestern Asia by about 9000 BC”.
The evidence of the first Neolithic artifacts collected in Sikkim was unearthed by Janak Lal Sharma, celebrated archaeologist from Nepal. In his paper work titled “Neolithic Tools from Nepal and Sikkim” published in Ancient Nepal (1969). J.L. Sharma along with Dr. N.R. Banerjee examined the ten tools found in Nepal and Sikkim. In his own words Sharma described the lone found early man’s tool from Sikkim as: “It is a thin chisel made of slate in the shape of a trapezium, the cutting edge being slightly chamfered on one side. It is 5 cm in length, 4.5 cm wide at its lower end and 2.5 cm at the top and the maximum thickness of the piece is .75cm.
It was found in the midst of a cultivated field at Odhare, Ramtek Basti, not very far from Gangtok on the southern slopes of the Himalayan ranges, in Sikkim, corresponding to the midland zone of Nepal’s topography. It is interesting to note that the word Odhare, where the specimen was found means a cave. It would, therefore, point to the probable existences of such caves, where folks using such polished implements may have once lived in the remote past. Its occurrences in the cultivated field may be attributed in this context to a discard. The sides are flattened as in the cases of the other chisels, from Nepal.”
I along with my two fellow friends Padam Parajuli and Kamal Sharma had visited this remote village Odhare some time back, the widespread rocky location looked a probable site for early men’s settlement. Considering the fact that Odhare lies adjacent to Sajyong (another excavated site of early man tools) and also the mere fact that these two places are found along the old routes connecting Nepal and Sikkim with that of Tibet prior to Younghusband’s 1904 route from Jelapla, there are ample chances that more priceless findings could be explored. Although nothing extraordinary narrative about any so-called caves was heard off at Odhare but old folks did mention listening ghosts (!) stories of the large Rocky Mountains that were used to scare them off by their parents during their early days.

Published in Sikkim Express - 14. 06. 2020

Shantinagar Gaon Sudhar Samiti plant Giloy's saplings

Tinospora cordifolia is more popular as Giloy or Guduchi in hindi and Gurjo in nepali. Indian Government is on a nationwide campaign on this species. If we believe at the Zee News, India is considering announcing Giloy as the National Medicine of India.

The state government of Sikkim too joined this movement on June 5th, 2020 where it was officially launched in presence of the Governor of Sikkim and the Chief Minister of Sikkim.

“Gurjo” (Tinospora Cordifolia) is a woody climber found in the tropical and sub-tropical areas of Sikkim. Stem cuttings obtained from older stems with nodes can be sown directly. This plants helps in curing diabetes, alleviates stress, improves memory, reduces chances of high blood pressure, useful in resisting respiratory problems, useful in treating chronic fever, reduces the signs and symptom of conditions like Dengue, Malaria, Swine flu, etc. It also improves eyesight, contains anti-ageing properties and is also believed to be a viable natural remedy for curing cancer.

Upon hearing this beneficial plant species, Krishna Chettri, President Shantinagar Gaon Sudhar Samiti visited the Forest Department, Singtam and collected 35 saplings. Some of them were distributed among the members while rest was planted along the Rano Khola Walkway at Shantinagar and near Seti Singha Devi Mandir, Burdang.

All interested are requested to collect required no. of saplings from the nearest distribution booths from MG Marg (Gangtok), Central Park (Namchi), Geyzing & Legship Forest Check Post (West), Pakshep Forest Check Post (Mangan), Phodong Range Office. The saplings is also available at Mamring herbal nursery (South), Rorathang herbal nursery & Bageykhola Forest nursery (East), Namshing & Tingda herbal nursery, Dikchu Forest nursery (North).