Do you know that archaeologists have recently discovered a settlement that is perhaps the oldest city in India?
You will agree with me that with each passing year, India becomes an even more attractive travel destination for international travelers.
We are talking about Kunal, a small village in the Fatehabad district of Haryana.
I have been writing about some really very ancient parts of India that have recently been unearthed by archaeologists, and Kunal is one of them.
To be honest, I hadn’t known about Kunal all these years.
One day, last year, while I was visiting the Head of National Museum in his office, I saw a tray carrying several shards of pottery. When I asked my host, Dr. BR Mani, about those pottery pieces, he told me that they came from Kunal. Dr. Mani also told me that the Kunal area is very old- even older than the Harappan civilizations of Rakhigarhi, Mohen-jo-Daro, Kalibangan, and Harappa!
I was excited upon hearing all this and made a mental note to write about this new and exciting finding.
Today, when I got back to my computer, that meeting with Dr. Mani flashed across my mind, and here I am writing this piece about the oldest city in India.
How old is Kunal?
Before answering this question, let us talk a bit about Harappan settlements.
There are four main Harappan settlements in India and Pakistan. They are in Harappa, Mohenjo-Daro in Pakistan, and Kalibangan and Rakhigarhi in India. There are a couple of other Harappan settlements in India like Dholavira, and Lothal. These settlements are also called Indus Valley settlements because they are spread in the basin of river Indus.
The age of all these settlements has now been determined to be 8,000 years. Earlier, these places were 5,500 years old. Please read this article that was published in Quartz a few months back that says that the Indus Valley Civilization is atleast 8,000 years old.
Now let us go back to the original question.
How old is Kunal?
You would be surprised to know that Kunal is at least 1,000 years older than the above-mentioned places! Which means that Indians have been living in well-planned settlements for 9,000 years!
I am not making this up, believe me. I am just quoting a top Government of India official here.
“It is very difficult to get archaeological findings in auction sales or through other sources and there were glaring gaps in our Harappan collection and we had nothing from the pre-Harappan times. We were thinking of where to source these samples from and that is when we stumbled upon the Harappan site in Kunal, Haryana, that was excavated in the 1990s but no report was finally submitted. The earlier findings date back to 3000 BC, but with the findings in Bhirrana, that is barely 20 kms away pointing to settlements dating back to 7000 BC to 6000 BC, we were confident that Kunal too had far more potential,” explained BRR Mani, archaeologist and Director General of National Museum.
In 2017, a 2-month excavation in Kunal brought up materials that are atleast 9,000 years old.
And what were they?
Researchers and scientists found a button seal which contained two bulls on one side and some geometric patterns on the other side. They also found bone tools, micro blades made of chalcedony, copper fish hooks, and arrowheads.
Charcoal, ash and some organic remains were also found that are being examined by the government authorities for their age.
Some pottery pieces carrying images of peepal leaves and a bull were also found from this ‘oldest city in India’.
The scientists also found in Kunal copper rods, rings, bangle pieces, terracotta objects like bangles, balls, animal figurines, etc. More diggings here revealed net-sinker, toy cart frames, disks and toys, stone balls, shell bangles etc.
You can read a lot about it in this Government of India journal.
Was Kunal a prosperous city? Or was it a trading point? We need to ask this question because our scientists found a hoard of gold and silver ornaments from this place also.
That is not all. They also found a copper furnace here which was used to make copper implements like utensils, implements etc. It seems Kunal was a highly developed city 9, 000 years back. After all, mining copper and then smelting it is a sophisticated science, isn’t it?
That’s it, folks for now.
I will update this article on Kunal being the ‘oldest city in India’ after a few months by speaking to Dr. Mani.
How to reach Kumal?
I am not sure whether you can see the excavated site these days. In many a time, these sites are covered up by mud to protect them from the weather.
But if you really want to visit Kunal, then you can take a cab from Delhi. Driving during summers can be tough so it is better to drive down to Kunal during the rains. Rakhigarhi is also close by so it would be a good idea to club both these two sites in your trip.
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