Home | History | About The Museum | The Creator | Article | News & Comments | Photo Gallery | Contact Us


The Human Habitation of Neolithic Age in Northern Bordering Area in Bangladesh
An Archaeological Study


Introduction:

When we discuss the history and culture of Bangladesh and it’s people, generally we do not try to investigate before the Mourya rule (269-233B.C.) 0f this territory. For this reason, about the research for the cultural, historical and linguistic elements of pre-historic period remain incomplete. But it is true that, if we want to know complete particular of a nation, we have no alternative than the study of living pattern of indigenous people. As example we can mention about Germans History. The Germans discovered their culture and Civilization from the upper Paleolithic hunting people to the beginnings of agriculture (Clarence Maloney: 1984). In fact, the whole particular of a group of people can be exposes by the study of their pre-historic activities, language, their myth, Folk-literature, their sylvan and agricultural life, habitation and migration. The scholars of developed countries built their national history by this way, but in Bangladesh, there are incomplete a lot of works about the investigation of this field till now.

In that perspective, it is positive sign for us that we have got some rocky-proof of migration, habitation and cultural specialty of ancient or indigenous people. A remarkable archaeological artifact has been discovered in northern bordering area in Bangladesh and has been preserved in ‘Rocks Museum’. From the collected rocks we could get proof of the Neolithic age in northern part of North Bengal. That proof may be earlier other than instances of that kind of discovery in the country.

ROCKS MUSEUM:

Due to the geographical atmosphere of the great Himalayan Mountains, the age of the land of panchagarh district is quite ancient and the Zoological characteristics of this area are different from the other part of Bangladesh as well. The remote northern bordering area of Tetulia is 97 miters. height from the sea level.1 There are nothing visible any hills or tilla in the region. But at the small deep level of inside the earth there have a huge number of conglomerate rocks and in the deep level of the earth have stratification of hard rocks. This visible igneous, sediment and metamorphic rocks was discovered by the than principal of panchagarh womens college Dr. Nazmul Haque. He created a specialized ‘Rocks Museum’ from this bed rock. The Museum established in March, 1997.It was formally inaugurated by the than Deputy Commissioner of panchagarh A.F.M.Saiful Islam on 25th of October, 1997. After two years, an Ethnical Gallery was opened with rocks museum and inaugurated jointly by Shamsuzzaman Khan, the than Director General of National Museum of Dhaka and Henry Glassie, professor of Indiana University of USA.
To find out the age of bordering north Bengal region, to investigate the geological specialty of the land, to ascertain the period of pre-historic human habitation in this area, to determine of the collected archaeological and geological rocks, to collect and preserve
*Associate professor, Department of Bengali, Begum Rokeya University, Rangpur, Bangladesh

cultural, anthropological and archaeological antics – rocks museum is established. It is also to be considered as a regional research centre for higher education and living historical image for the visitors.

It is mentionable here that , in Bangladesh there are a remarkable number of museum founded by formal or informal and by government or non government initiative , but there is nothing any stone-base museum like rocks museum in panchagarh. In Bangladesh, the ‘concept of rocks museum’ is completely new. Not only that, we have seen in other countries of the world ‘the rock park’ ‘the rock garden’, but ‘rocks museum’ have or have not, it is -
 

GEOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF NORTHERN-BORDERING AREA

About 8 core of years ago, the Himalayan basin which connected also with panchagarh area, was a shallow sea, called ‘Tethis’. This sea was spread out from south-Europe, Asia Minor and Himalayan Mountain to south-east countries like Burma, Andaman Islands and east-Indian islands1.There have been two Continent or plates called ‘Gondowana’ and ‘Loresia’ besides the Tethis. About 7 core years ago, this plate began advancing to one after another. Finally, by the terrific pressure of this two plate, there began to create a fold mountain. This fold mountain called Himalayan. By the five step of terrible orogeny Himalayan mountain changed in to present shape.2 panchagarh area is situated attached with the Himalayan basin. So, this process has obviously influenced the inner side of the earth of this region. In Indian northern district Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling - adjoining with northern border of Bangladesh- has been found stone of Tertiary period. Among the obtained rocks are mentionable- sand stone, grit, conglomerate, lime stone and clay stone.3 Same are also available in Panchagarh region.

Geologist K.Bagchi said about geographical construction of this area- from ‘Terrai’ of Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri to the Padma river in south and from the Ganges and Padma in west to the Brahmaputra in east, the characteristics of the soil is sediment but it is very old.4 According to the observation of the geologists, it can be told that, like the other stratification of the land of north Bengal the earth’s crust of northern bordering area is also very old. The age of this alluvium from ten thousand years to twenty thousand year.5 The northern area of Bangladesh are divided by few geographical category. Some of them are- ‘THE RUHIA FLAK’ ‘THE RANGPUR SADLE’ and ‘BOGRA FLACK’. Among this characteristics the north-western side of panchagarh is small part of Himalayan sub-advanced hole.6

 

NEOLITHIC CULTURE:

The rising of Neolithic culture and human habitation has been completed in this bordering area before four thousand of years. In fever of this conclusion, it has been collected innumerable huge archaeological artifacts in rocks museum. It is mentionable here that, a remarkable number of stone-mad exe and tools of Neolithic age has been found in Darjeeling region just opposite the panchagarh district by a combing investigation of a archaeologist group of India in recent past. According to the thinking of the Archaeologists, the beginning of Neolithic period probably is 5000 B.C. and its ending line was 2000B.C.(Dr. Md. Mozammel Haque:1996,p-13).In northern bordering zone, particularly in panchagarh area, it can be said that, the people of Neolithic period flourished their culture from 2000 BC. or some earlier of that period to 2nd or 3rd AD. Collected archeological materials in rocks museum might be proved of this decision. The stone made tools, hand axe, piece of stone column used on graveyard in Mesolithic age, plain, course and sharp small and big stone have been discovered in panchagarh area are the proof of Neolithic age. Except this, believe of supernatural power on rocks and offering of puja were practiced. Some were used it for building river bridge or dam and some were used for domestic work. The stone culture was closely connected with everyday habit of the indigenous people of this area. They also built plate, bowel, stair, flat seat (piri), ladder and small tools by cutting and grazing the stone. The collected rocks did not fulfill only the material necessity but enriched also their spiritual and esthetical thinking. We have got some stone slab with artistic engraving, geometrical design or pattern, pictures of bows and arrows, symbolic human figures and different letters and words which engraved on cut stone. This are proved that, stone culture and civilization fully flourished in this habitation. In fact, tendency for permanent habitation in ancient people were seen specially in Neolithic age. The indigenous people built their home near the place suitable for livestock, farming and agriculture.7 Before that, they have been passing there hunting lives. According to the Anthropologists, we are using till now many of the habit and materials (like- hail stone, grind stone, spell) of Neolithic age in our every day life. More over, crops of Neolithic period are the main food of the people even in the present day.8 The extensive use of this habit are observed till now in this area.
 

THE HUMAN HABITATION IN NEOLITHIC PERIOD :

The renowned Historian Dr.Nihar Ranjan Roy, Dr. RC Majumder and their inheritor Dilip Bandopadhay, Dr.Mozammel Haque, Dr.Abdur Rahman Siddiqui etc. proved that the north Bengal is the oldest land of Bangladesh. A group of researcher of West Bengal investigated in the hilly region of Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri .They discovered the bed rock of Archean period (extending from 57 core to 250 core years). They also invented from this bed rock- the Cyst of Boxer series, Slate, Filets, Quartzite, Lime, Dolerite, Shell, Carbon Shell, grey color black stone etc sediment rocks. These were coagulated by a long time and transformed as present shape.10 The land of northern Bordering area of Bangladesh also passed through the same process.

Almost all of the Bengali Historian and anthropologists agreed with that, the ‘Pundras’ were the oldest migrated people in southern part of North Bengal (Rajshahi and Bogra). They came from Ganges valley and settled in this area during end of the Neolithic age or beginning of the Historical period. Later, the Pundras were built urban civilization in ‘Bangarh’ and ‘Mahasthangarh’. They were the proto-australoid people (Dr.Abdur Rahman Siddiqui).

Now, question may be raised that, were the ‘PUNDRAS’ built their habitation in Northern bordering area, especially in Panchagarh, Jalpaiguri or Darjeeling? The answer will be – of course ‘no’. Because, there are nothing any proof of habitation by the Pundras in this region. After examined the anthropological specialty of this local people, it is proved undoubtedly that they were separate ethnic group of people. The Pundras came in to India from the west but this people entered this zone from the north and north-east of Bangladesh. Anthropologist Clarence Maloney and other scholars said that, a different ethnic group of people came from the northern countries through the Assam and North-east India and established their habitation in northern hilly and sylvan area. We repeat another question- who were this people?

Historian Minhaz-i-Siraj described in his book ‘Tabqat-i-Nasiri’ that, the Koch, Mech and Tharu were the oldest people in North Bengal. Colonel Dulton agreed with it. Dulton mentioned about Metch that, they were turbulent indigenous people of Tibet, Bhutan and represents of Mongoloid sub-division inhabited.10 In ancient period ,the ‘Pahari’ and ‘Kirata’people (The Mongoloid ) were residing in this region. From south Asia to Kashmir valley of north India there have been continuous habitation of ‘Kirata’ (Mongoloid) and ‘Nishada’( austral) people. 11 It is mentionable that, the Kirata people were residing in south valley of Himalayan Mountain (including Panchcgarh region)in ten thousand years B.C.12 Dr. Sunitikumar Chattarjee described their habitation, history and culture in his book ‘KIRATAJANAKRITI’.This people imposed their influences in Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri as well as in Panchagarh area.The Komboj, Mongoloid, Danab,Chutia, Asur, Nishada people also dominated this extreme region of North Bengal of Bangladesh and India.13 In 2nd or 3rd century, the Kirata people captured the kingdom of Nepal and ruled there for few century. Their regime also spread out up to the Northern bordering region of Bangladesh (see-‘Kiratajanakriti’).

In Panchagarh District,the people familiar with a name of ‘Kichak’-who were a turbulent indigenous hunter group. It is mentionable here that, the name of brother-in low of ‘Birat-Raja’of ‘MAHAVARATA’-also was ‘Kichak’. This people probably were a sub-tribe of Kirata and became powerful in northern region - especially in Panchagarh- from pre-historic period. According to the legend, the mythological king of Vitargarh- Raja Prithu- was attacked by the Kichak and sacrificed himself in the water of ‘Maharaja dighi’. It is guesses that, there target was only robbing; because, there were no evidences of ruling or occupying the capital. Same incident happened in Tetulia of Panchagarh. The Kichak people also attacked the king ‘Shalibahan’and like king Prithu, Raja Salibahan chosen killing himself in the pond.14

The word ‘Kichak’ possibly derived from ‘Kirata’.The Kichak or Kirata people were residing in Panchagarh during Neolithic age with power. They were the proved ancient indigenous people in Panchagarh, Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri region.
 

THE PROOFS OF HUMAN HABITATION

Now, we will show proof in fever of this conclusion, Firstly, it is a ‘stone made axe-, which discovered by Dr. Nazmul Haque from Panchagarh sadar and preserved in Rocks Museum. It existed in a farmer house. The axe is flat and it built by Dolerite rock. There are two small holes in the middle of the axe. It is 14.5*5.4*2.9c.m.by size. According to the opinion of the local people-there have more stone made axe in this area. But people do not know that these are ‘stone-axe’ and thousand of years aged material. Farmers popular Folk-believe was that, this are hardened part of thunder which fallen from sky. They also believed that, in this material has super natural power. By carrying its powder in an amulet or by drinking its powder-mixed water, people may get relief from different illness. For these reason, the collected stone-axe is slightly broken.

The stone-axes discovered in Panchagarh and in Kalimpong region of Darjeeling are same by size and shape. The archaeological department of India has discovered same kind of stone-axe from Mednapore, Bardwan and Birbhum in 1995. Another group of researcher also discovered a remarkable number of stone-axe from village Rilli, Pedong, Pudang, Sindibong, Kankibong, Lolegaoun, Poser and Naser bosti of Darjeeling district- just opposite the northern most border of Banglabandha in north Bengal. Among the collected axe of Naser bosti and Panchagarh- there have exact similarity with each other by shape and size. The peasant of above mentioned villages, collected this axes during plugging or digging the soil.
The farmers of Kalimpong area bears the same believe like Panchagarh. They called it ‘Bozrodunga’, that means a piece of the thunder. The farmers also preserved the stone for relief from illness. They do believe that, if the ‘Bozrodunga’ remains in a house, there will not be any fear of thundering.

The archaeologists identified the age of this stone-made axe through examined by Carbon – 14 method and said , it is about four thousand years by age. This axes were used by the indigenous people in 1500 to 2000 B.C.15 Like this axes, there also discovered more pieces in Assam and provinces of eastern India. Another stone axe was discovered from ‘Bangarh’ of Dinajpur16 by K.G.Goswami in 1948. He collected it from the level of ‘Sungo’ dynesty. By justifying this Dr. A.H.Dani mentioned that (1960), the ending stage of Neolithic age in this region was 2nd or 3rd century B.C.( Dr. Mozammel Haque:1996,p-12).It is mentionable that, the human habitation might be formed in northern bordering area before this period.

About ten miles far from Panchagarh sadar, the Vitargarh archaeological site- attached with Indian border- and surrounding of its 20 miles area- hold same characteristics that of Kalimpong region in Darjeeling although there not visible any hill or tilla. But the geological environment, Flora and Fauna of this two land are same. The small hilly river of this two area and the river and adjoining land are full of iron, sand, lime, small grit, quartzite, cyst, silica sand, carbon ,dolerite etc mineral materials.

The stream of river Teesta of Kalimpong region also has been passing beside the eastern part of Panchagarh district in 1787. The origin of the rivers of Panchagarh- ‘Jorapani’, ‘Shao’, ‘Talma’, ‘Chawai’ is from Kalimpong or its adjacent area. It means, there have been close communication between the two localities from ancient time. So, if the stone axe available in Kalimpong region, it is also possible to getting same in Panchagarh.

The Archaeologists and Anthropologists are not holding same opinion about identify the Neolithic period. But it could be said by synthesis of different thinking of the scholars that, the people of Neolithic period flourished their culture in North Bengal and its adjoining area from 2000 B.C. or some earlier to 2nd or 3rd A.D.17

The human habitation in North Bengal was existed from the pre-Mourya period (320-185B.C.)- it was recommended strongly by the Historians.18 Clarence Meloney also mentioned that, on the plain land of Ganges Valley, including the North Bengal- there have been established agricultural civilization during 700B.C. to 500A.D.19 Another scholar Dr. Atul Sur described that, it was10 thousand years B.C.20 To justifying this opinion we can say that, about three to four thousand years before or earlier to that, a group of indigenous people – who were probably the hunters- named ‘kirata’ or `Kichak’ came from Kalimpong region and made habitation in bordering area of Panchagarh.

It is not ‘only a proof’ to consider for habitation of neolithic people in this region but more archaeological proof we got our hand. These are as follows:-

(a) In pre-historic period, the indigenous people used piece of stone on graveyard. It would have been five to seven feet long. These have been decorated by totemic figure.This kind of rocks collected in Rocks Museum. This tradition of Mesolithic age also found in Sylhet in Bangladesh and Mednapore, Bankura, Hoogley in West Bengal 21.

(b) During one thousand years B.C., people used iron made tools. In the mound of ‘Pandu Raja’ in West Bengal has discovered carbon-mixed iron tools22. Similarly, from Vitargarh of Panchagarh, carbon-mixed small iron stick and pill also has been collected; it is preserving in rocks museum.

(c) There is another instance of ancient civilization- it is stone slab. The slabs discovered from Vitargarh. With four corner and artistically engraved this slabs are similar those of ‘Paharpur Bodha Bihara’. Popular belief is that, the king of west Kamrupa king third Jalpesh was ruled Panchagarh territory in first century A.D.23. He was called king ‘Prithu’and his capital was Vitargarh.24. In his kingdom and in ‘Bangarh’ and ‘Biratgarh’ of ‘Dinajpur’ stone slab has been used for building fort and place25. We can say that, where there existed rule of king, undoubtedly there has been human habitation from early of that period.

(d) A bridge or dam structure was uncovered in ‘Bir badh’(great bank), ‘Sonarban’ and ‘Patharghata’ of Vitargarh when a group of labor were lifting conglomerate stone in 1998. Dr. Nazmul Haque discovered a number of hut shape course stones with small hole and he collected ancient bricks from these three places for museum. The iron tools also collected by him from Sonarban. However, It can be said with full believe that, this was probably used within 3rd century B.C. by cutting from big rocks. Dr.Nazmul Haque observed a stone made platform with line up bricks under 15feet deep of earth surface in Sonarban. According to opinion of the labors, the platform was built by keeping one row bricks and one row stone blocks. Stone blocks were joined with iron clamps. It was a technology to building stone bridge or dam in pre-historic period like other ancient countries in the world. But in Bangladesh, it was a rare example.

(e) A huge number of discovered rocks from Vitargarh, have been engraved by Geometric design, augmentative beautiful line, the lotus flower, well designed eyes, the bows and arrows, unfinished figure of man and animal—all are indication of the heritage of indigenous people of Neolithic age. This are not only picture, but complete identification of there religious beliefs, like-animism, magic, animatism, mana etc ).
 

 ABOUT INSCRIPTIONS

There have not discovered any rock inscriptions or copper plate in Panchagarh sadar and Tetulia. However, engraved letters or writings on discovered rock only the hope. The writings are not exactly inscriptions, it seems one kinds of letter, but it proved its oldness.
We are showing bellow some of the name and period of ancient letters which engraved on rocks(26)


Now question is that, who and why engraved this inscriptions on rocks such indiscipline way? The investigation about this point might be that, since it was engraved on same type and same size of rocks and probably used for building of bridge or dam, so that, similar kind of letters could be used to lying similar type of rocks side by side. But is it possible to show such kind of intelligence and skill for indigenous peoples? For that point, our logical assumption is that, this process also might be done by supervision of mythological king ‘Prithu’ probably in 2nd or 3rd century B.C.

It is mentionable here that, discovered artifacts were not of the same period. so, it will not be justified to consider all rocks or inscriptions within one century.

After examining all the archaeological materials we could emphasize on two important points for proof of human habitation in north bordering area, this are –
a. Stone made axe and
b. Rock inscriptions.

a. since we have got clear evidences by discovering stone-made axe of Neolithic period, so we could realize the situation like that – in Neolithic age (2000 century B.C.), a group of hunter and horticulturist indigenous people left there mountainous habitation - that might be from village Pudong, Pedong, Rili or Naser Bosti of Kalimpong- and advanced by foot or boat or float through the river Teesta, Karotowa or its shore. They reached at Vitargarh in Panchagarh sadar. The soil of Vitargarh was fertile, high, and useful for agriculture and surrounded by river ‘Talma’ and ‘Salmara’. They chosen this place for their habitation because of similar geographical environment among the two region (except hill). This people identified in various ancient books as mixed Austro-Mongoloid race–Kirata, Kichak, Comboj, Asur, Danob and Chutia.27 Making habitation in this place, they built hand axes, tools and domestic materials by grazing the rocks. They used and developed their past experiences, religious beliefs and culture in newly inhabited area. We strongly recommend that, these ‘Kirata’ or ‘Kichak’ indigenous people flourished agricultural civilization in this region about four thousand years ago.

b. to considering inscriptional source, it is observed that, engraved writings or letters on rocks were extended from 3rd century B.C. to 2nd century A.D. It means, the age of these rock-inscriptions is about two thousand years. In that point we can say that, to develop them from primitive stage to acquired knowledge of writing it might be taken another one thousand year.
So, according to rock-inscription, the age of habitation of the ancient people in northern bordering area in Bangladesh is not less than four thousand years.

Infect, the PUNDRAS were oldest migrated people in southern part of north Bengal. They introduced agriculture, developed it and established a strong urban civilization in middle part of north Bengal (Mahastangarh,Bangarh and Sompur Bihara). Similarly, the ‘Kirata’ or ‘Kichak’ indigenous people came in this bordering zone, inhabited here and introduced agriculture, exercised a stone-culture and created a fort-city in Vitargarh of Panchagarh before three and a half to four thousand years ago.

 

REFERENCES


 

 

© CopyRight Dr. Nazmul Haque
Design & Developed By MD.Tanvir Rahman