Report of Sarnath Excavation 2013-14


Sarnath is one of the most important, sacred and famous religious as well as pilgrimage place for the Buddhist World and as this is well known that this place is directly associated with the life and teachings of Lord Buddha. From this place Lord Buddha has started the journey of Dhammaby giving his first sermon in C. 528 B.C.E.


Sarnath (Lat.25022’ N , Log.8300’ E) is located on the Delhi-Kolkata National Highway, at a distance of about 10 kms. Towards north-east from Varanasi Railway station and is only 23 kms. away from LalBahadur Shastri Air Port, Babatpur, Varanasi.


In ancient Buddhist literature this ancient place Sarnath is known by various names. From this place the Great Teacher -“Lord Buddha “had given his first sermon, this event is known as “Dharma-Chakra-Parvartanaor Sadharma-Chakra-Parvartana” as it had been found in an inscription of Early Medieval period at sarnath. This place is also called as Rishipatana, as it is believed that at this place five hundred Rishis (sages),PratyekaBuddha,fell after their nirvana (salvation). In ancient time it was also known by the name of Mrigadayaor Mrigadava. The modern name Sarnath has derived fromSaranganath (Lord Siva) and a temple dedicated to Lord Siva is also located at this place. Sarnath is also very sacred and auspicious to the Jainas as at this place Sreyansanatha the 11th Tirthankara of Jainas has obtained ascetism as well as has got Kaivalya.


Excavation
Excavation work at Sarnath, District Varanasi started from 19.02.2014 under the direction of Dr. B. R. Mani, Additional Director General of A.S.I. New Delhi and under the supervision of Shri Ajay Srivastava, Superintending Archaeologist (I/c) of Sarnath Circle, Varanasi. The excavation works at Sarnath session 2013-14 conducted by a team of this Circle, comprises Shri Abdul Arif, Dr. NiteshSaxena, Dr. Manisha Singh and Dr. SachinTiwary, Assistant Archaeologists, Shri O.P. Panday,Senior Photographer and Shri Ram NareshYadav, Draftsman Grade II.


Previous work
The Archaeological remains of Sarnath started attracting the scholars since 19th Century. As a result excavation works of Sarnath started first of all by Sir Alexender Cunningham (1835-36) Major Kittoe (1851-52), Mr. C. Horne (1865), Mr. F..O. Oertal(1904-05), Sir Johan Marshal (1907), Mr. H. Hargreaves (1914-15), Mr. Daya Ram Shani (1927-32). Then after a gap of about eighty-two years once again excavation work is conducted by Sarnath Circle,Sarnath of Archaeological Survey of India.


Purpose of Excavation 2013-14

  1. The main objectives of the excavation work were to ascertain the cultural sequence of the site prior to MauryanPeriod if any.
  2. To conduct horizontal excavation for to trace out the structural remains, antiquities, potteries and other archeological remains belonging to Buddha’s time or before it if any.


Excavation

TRENCH

SQUARE

LOCATION

A1

All the squares

Western side of the MulgandhaKuti Temple

A2

II, III, IV

Western side of the MulgandhaKuti Temple

C2

II

On the same location as above, near to the monolithic pillar

F9

II

On the south side of the Dharmarajika Stupa.
Square laid on the monolithic staircase.

G2

I, IV

Inside MulgandhaKuti Temple.

ZF2

II, IV

On the northern side of the MulgandhaKuti Temple.

ZF3

II, III

On the northern side of the MulgandhaKuti Temple.

ZG3

I, IV

On the northern side of the MulgandhaKuti Temple.

XA1

III

Western side of the Apsidal temple

XA2

I

Northern side of the Apsidal temple

F3

I, II

Inside Monolithic Railing, on the south gate of MulgandhaKuti Temple.

TOTAL:- 11  TRENCH

TOTAL:- 21 SQUARES

LOCATION:- SEVEN


To achieve the above mentioned objectives, a systematic excavation work started for the session 2013-14. Keeping in view of the objective of excavation, trenches are laid out on four different places. Accordingly 8 Nos. of trenches were laid out in the different locus of A1, XA1, XA2, C2, and E3each measures 10x10 Mtssquare. In which Quadrant I. II, III& of A1 Quadrant II, III&IV of A2, Quadrant IIIof C2, Quadrant I of XA1, Quadrant III of XA2, Quadrant I & IV of ZG3, Quadrant I & IV of G2 and Quadrant I of F9 were excavated with the above view. All the trenches lying towards western side of the Ashokan Pillar at a distance about 30 mts and other tranches namely ZG3, ZF2, were selected for excavation are situated towards northern side of the MulgandhKuti Shrine at distance of about 30 mtswhere as to tranches namely G1, G2situated within the MulgandhKuti Shrine its self and another one tranches namely F9 situated just toward southern side adjacent to the ‘Paradakshina Path’ of DharamRajika Stupa was also taken excavation works.


The excavation works of the above mentioned four different places has revealed very significant cultural sequence from Pre MauryanPeriod to Post- Gupta.


On the basis of excavation results, carried out at Sarnath, for the session 2013-14, the tentative cultural sequence of site has been identified and can be divided into four periods are as follows:


Period I: Pre Mauryan Period (4th Century B.C. to 3rd Century B.C.)
Period II: Mauryan Period (3rd Century B.C. to 2nd Century B.C.)
Period III: Sunga –Kushana Period (2nd Century B.C. to 4th Century A.D.)
Period IV: Gupta Period (4th Century A.D. to 6th Century A.D. )


Thus, Sarnath excavation 2013-14 revealed a continuous cultural sequence of the site from 4thB.C. Century to 6th Century A.D.


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