Thursday, June 25, 2015

Ancient figurine of African elephant unearthed at Tarighat

Unearthing of terracotta figurines of elephant at 2,500-year-old Tarighat site at Durg district is being believed as another indication that complements connection of Chhattisgarh's ancient traders with South Africa. Archaeologists claim Tarighat was one of the richest international trading centres in central India. 

They feel that the shape of elephant figurine is indisputably like those found in South Africa. 

However, with Indo-Scythian and Indo-Greek coins excavated, the site is said to be not only one of the richest trading centres of import-export in Chhattisgarh, but also a hotspot of affluent lifestyle. Earlier, figurines of Giraffe-like animal and women with unique-knotted hairstyle excavated from the site supported the idea of traders having some connection with South Africa.

Excavation director and archaeologist JR Bhagat said, "The elephant has large ears and spine bones visible on its back, identical to elephants found in Africa. Elephants of that physique can't be found in Asia. Tarighat has indicated at being a trading market during 2nd and 3rd century BC." 

Bhagat said that archaeology is a deep and argued subject, hence, scope for more research is always possible. "Chhattisgarh might have had affluent and glorious past but I am yet to find clearer links of Tarighat to international market," he said. 

Partially buying the idea, anthropologist (retd) Ashok Tiwari, former curator, Museum of Man, Bhopal said, "The elephant figurine's anatomy isn't like that of an Indian elephant rather it looks similar to African breed which has slant forehead, large ears and spinal column visible on the back. Few may argue that elephants in those times would have looked that way." 

Tiwari explained that ancient traders might have travelled to Africa and would have made figurines after returning for decorative purpose. 

Another archaeologist CL Raikwar said, "Elephant figurine is small-sized and looks like a country art (lok kala). Country art often is result of artists' imagination, though it's also argued that ancient artists engraved what they saw in their surrounding." 

Tarighat site resumed excavation recently after getting renewal of licence for excavation by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). Chhattisgarh archaeology department director Rakesh Chaturvedi pronounced the site as one of the most important ones in state.

Drolia, Rashmi. 2015. “Ancient figurine of African elephant unearthed at Tarighat”. Times of India. Posted: April 24, 2015. Available online:

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