A note on chariots excavated at Sanauli, Baghpat, UP

This article will discuss the important archaeological finds of at least three excavated chariots found by archaeologists at Sanauli (Sinauli) in Baghpat district, UP. The age of these chariots are estimated to be 2000-1800 BCE.

An excavated chariot

Sanauli is a village in Barot tehsil of Baghpat district in the state of Uttar Pradesh. The site is famous for remains of chariots and burial chambers dating to 2000-1800 BCE. Legends speak of Sanauli as one of the 5 villages, which Krishna asked from the Kauravas to avoid war.

In fact, these findings are a first of its kind in the whole of the subcontinent, where men have been buried with their chariots, indicating a warrior class residing near the Ganges river 4000 years ago.

A coffin with its chariot

In 2018, archaeologists found remains of two bronze age chariots having two solid wheels (not spoked). The wheels rotated on a fixed axle linked by a shaft to the yoke. The chassis of the two chariots are made of wood and covered with thick copper sheets.

A wheel

The findings quickly became famous and archaeologists have indicated these findings put Bharat onto the same league as some other powers of the era who were using chariots, like Hittites, Egyptians, Mycenaean Greeks, Babylonians etc.

However, one major point of divergence is that European chariots or the chariots used by middle-east powers, had spoked wheels. However, the findings at Sanauli indicate that the people used wheels which were not spoked.

The third chariot was found with another wood coffin burial. The pit also included a shield (decorated with geometrical patterns in copper), a torch, an antenna sword, a digger, hundreds of beads and a variety of pots.

Pots buried at the site

Seven human burials, including three coffin burials, have been excavated by the ASI at Sanauli in 2018. In all burials, the head was found to be on the NW side, with pottery beyond the head and on the south after the feet.

Skeleton remains found at Sanauli

A major find was antenna shaped sword and daggers found at the burial site, indicating the buried individuals were of warrior class. Further examination of skeletons indicated that they may have died of violence or accidents.

Sword and dagger found at the burial site

According to Dr. D.N Jha, “Horse-driven chariots are known in the Vedic period. However, iron makes appearance in the post-Vedic period, or not earlier than the late Vedic period. So this find cannot be dated to the pre-Vedic/ Harappa phase.”

Burial chambers

Two important questions must be raised regarding these findings:

1) Was there a parallel civilization residing in the Indo-Gangetic plains, at the time of Saraswati-Sindhu (Indus Valley) Civilization?

2) Why did they bury their dead? Did cremation ritual came later?

Further research is needed to answer these.

(This article has been compiled from the tweet thread of @PrasunNagar)


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