Tour the Archaeological Site of Wari-Bateshwar in Bangladesh

The archaeological site of Wari-Bateshwar in the north-eastern part of Bangladesh, has uncovered the remains of a city that is believed to date back to 450 BC. The ancient city was discovered near the Wari and Bateshwar villages, around 75 kilometers from Dhaka in the Narshingdi district of Bangladesh, and is considered to be of great archaeological significance.

The site was originally discovered by a local school teacher in 1933, but official excavation by a team from Jahangirnagar University’s Archaeology Department only began in the year 2000. The discovery of a number of artifacts, including superb examples of monochrome glass beads, have led archaeologists to believe that the site was once a well planned, ancient commercial city (otherwise known as an emporium) of Sounagora, as mentioned by the Greek geographer, astronomer and mathematician, Ptolemy, in his book titled “Geographia”. Other emporiums mentioned by Ptolemy include Arikamedu of India, Mantai of Sri Lanka and Kion Thom of Thailand, and the artifacts found at these three sites have marked similarities to the artifacts discovered at Wari-Bateshwar.

From the discovery at Wari-Bateshwar of rouletted-ware, knobbed-ware, layered glass beads, monochrome glass beads, stone beads and gold-foil glass beads, experts have concluded that the settlement at Wari-Bateshwar had trading contact with Roman and Southeast Asiatic communities. The vast quantity of coins found in the area suggests that the ancient city was one of great wealth and was involved in commercial activities. These coins are made out of silver and marked with an image of boats, fish or the sun. The coins retrieved from the archaeological site are likely only a small portion of the original store, as according to locals, many coins that were uncovered between the first discovery of the site in 1933 and the opening of the official archaeological site in 2000, have been melted down and sold. Other items that have been discovered include semi-precious stone beads, a variety of earthen pots and ceramics, as well as iron artifacts such as knives, nails and spearheads.

Archaeological excavations have also revealed an interesting pit-type dwelling – the first of its kind to be discovered in Bangladesh. However similar pit-type dwellings have been discovered in India and Pakistan which, according to archaeological experts, are around 4,000 years old. This indicates early urbanization of the area of Wari-Bateshwar, prior to the building of the city.

Archaeological excavations, such as that of Wari-Bateshwar, open up a window into the past of Bangladesh – a fascinating country with an ancient, and sometimes mystifying, history.

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