Published on: June 1, 2023

Pre-Mauryan era signs

Pre-Mauryan era signs

Why in news? A fresh round of excavations at the site of Delhi’s Purana Qila (Old Fort) have uncovered evidence of the continuous history of the city since the pre-Mauryan era. The findings include shards of Painted Gray Ware pottery which are usually dated to around 1200 BC to 600 BC.


  • This was the third round of excavations at the site, beginning from January. Earlier excavations had been carried out in 2013-14 and 2017-18.
  • These efforts have revealed nine cultural levels, representing different historical periods, including pre-Mauryan, Mauryan, Sunga, Kushana, Gupta, post-Gupta, Rajput, Sultanate, and Mughal.

The findings:

  • The new excavations have found remains of a 900-year-old Vaikuntha Vishnu from the Rajput period, a terracotta plaque of Goddess Gaja Lakshmi from the Gupta period, the structural remains of a 2,500-year-old terracotta ring well from the Mauryan period, and a well-defined four-room complex from the Sunga-Kushan period dating back to 2,300 years ago, besides beads, seals, copper coins and a bone needle.
  • More than 136 coins and 35 seals have been discovered from a small excavated area, indicating the site’s pivotal role as a centre for trade activities

About Purana Qila

  • The Purana Qila, built by Sher Shah Suri and Mughal emperor Humayun,
  • It is believed to be the site of Indraprastha, as mentioned in the Mahabharat.
  • Located in South Eastern part of New Delhi
  • Historian Alexander Cunningham identified the fort with that of Indraprastha
  • A fortification wall about 30 metre long was also found.
  • Three arched gateways: the Bara Darwaza (Big Gate) facing west, which is still in use today; the south gate, also popularly known as the ‘Humayun Gate’ and lastly, the ‘Talaqi Gate’, often known as the “forbidden gate”.
  • All the gates are double-storeyed sandstone structures flanked by two huge semi-circular bastion towers, decorated with white and coloured-marble inlays and blue tiles.
  • They are replete with detailing, including ornate overhanging balconies, or jharokhas, and are topped by pillared pavilions (chhatris), all features that are reminiscent of Rajasthani architecture as seen in the North and South Gates, and which were amply repeated in future Mughal architecture.