Syed Mustafa Ahmad
Burzahoma is located in the northwest of Srinagar. It is about 20 kilometers from Srinagar. It is a hilly area and the famous Dal Lake is fully visible from herehis. This place has great historical significance. R.S. Sharma, the noted historian of Ancient India, says that the history of Burzahoma goes back to 2,750 BC. He further says that the main characteristic of Burzahoma is that dogs were buried with their masters in pits. This feature is not seen in any other Neolithic site. Apart from these, he placed Burzahoma in the North-Western part of the Indian Subcontinent. Krishna Reddy in his book says that 39 Neolithic sites have been found in Jammu and Kashmir. Among all these sites, Burzahoma and Gufkral are of most importance.
The most fascinating thing at Burzahoma is that the pottery was polished black ware pot with mat impression. H De Terre and TT Peterson, two English archeologists, after studying the stones in 1935 had assessed that there might have been a settlement here. After this, the Archeological Survey of India began digging here in 1960 under the supervision of T.N. Khazanchi. And there was a lot of excitement for the world in general and for Jammu and Kashmir in particular when after a careful study, experts came to the conclusion that there was an ancient civilisation here. The evidence showed that this was a pre-historic civilisation that is still counted as the oldest civilisation of Jammu and Kashmir.
The things that have been found here tell us how ancient humans lived in the long past, the houses they lived in, and what kind of things they used. It is believed that Burzahoma belongs to the Neolithic Age or the New Stone Age (3000-1000 BC). Experts have divided this civilisation into four periods or ages: Period 1and 2 belong to Neolithic age, Period 3 belongs to Megalithic, and Period 4 belongs to early historical period.
In the first period, the inhabitants of Burzahoma used to live in pit dwellings. These were three to four metres in depth and four to five metres in width. The mouths of the pits were narrower than the bases. They were dug by sharp pointed stone tools. In the pits, there were steps and ladder access to go deeper down into the pits. Holes have been found around the pits to fix the wooden poles in land to support roofs made out of birch trees in order to protect against rain and snow. Half burnt or burnt birch has been found at the mouths of the pits. In the pits, ash and charcoals were found that told about the usage of fire for different purposes. Apart from these, there was other evidence that showed that people used fire places outside the pits in winters. There are many opinions regarding the purpose of pits. Some are of the opinion that the humans lived in pits to protect themselves from extreme cold and snowfall while some are of the opinion that the pits were used for storing things.
People used earthen pots in Burzahoma. The pots were irregular in shape. Black ware pots were made with mat impressions at the bottom. It is believed that people left their pots on the mats for drying. These pots have been discovered in North China and Baluchistan. According to some historians, it shows the flourishing trade that was prevalent at that time. Moreover, the inhabitants of Burzahoma used to catch fish. The bones and stone tools were: harpoons, needles with or without eyes, saws, knife, awls, daggers, etc. Copper found here is believed to have come from China was the imitation of Chinese products.
After this, the second period of Burzahoma starts. In this age, people lived in mud huts or houses. People stopped living in underground pits. Earth was filled in the pits to make it plain. This period also witnessed the evolution of timber for constructional purposes. In the latter part of this period, people used the wheel for making pots. A wheel-made red ware pot has been discovered. It contains 950 beads that speak of the engineering skills of the natives of Burzahoma. Many pots were coloured or polished. It is believed that these kinds of pots came from outside. In the second period, changes came only in poetry and in burial system. Human skeletons and animal skeletons were found in many pits. The pits were filled with birch ash, stones and other things. In many pits, the skeletons of dogs, Kashmiri Stag (the Hangul) and the skeletons of humans were found. The presence of agriculture was observed in both period 1 and period 2 of Burzahoma. People used barley, wheat and lentils. About lentils, it is said that it provided a link with Central Asia. Burzahoma is also taken as part of the Northern Neolithic culture of Asia (Krishna Reddy’s book).
(to be continued)