Archaeology of Ayodhya - 2003: The ASI Report

2003: The ASI Report

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) excavated the Ram Janm Bhoomi site at the direction of the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court Uttar Pradesh in 2003. Jonathan Walters remarks: "The impact of the 2003 discovery of Buddhist ruins underlying both Hindu and Muslim layers at Ayodhya remains to be seen." The archaeologists also reported evidence of a large 10th century structure similar to a Hindu temple having pre-existed the Babri Masjid. A team of 131 labourers, including 52 Muslims — who were later on included on the objections of the Muslim side — was engaged in the excavations. On June 11, 2003 the ASI issued an interim report that only listed the findings of the period between May 22 and June 6, 2003. In August 2003 the ASI handed a 574-page report to the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court.

The ASI, who examined the site, issued a report of the findings of the period between May 22 and June 6, 2003. This report stated:

Among the structures listed in the report are several brick walls ‘in east-west orientation’, several ‘in north-south orientation’, ‘decorated coloured floor’, several ‘pillar bases’, and a ‘1.64-metre high decorated black stone pillar (broken) with yaksha figurines on four corners’ as well as "Sanskrit inscription of holy verses on stone"

Earlier reports by the ASI, based on earlier findings, also mention among other things a staircase and two black basalt columns ‘bearing fine decorative carvings with two crosslegged figures in bas-relief on a bloomed lotus with a peacock whose feathers are raised upwards’.

The excavations gave ample traces that there was a mammoth pre-existing structure beneath the three-domed Babri structure. Ancient perimeters from East to West and North to South have been found beneath the Babri structure. The bricks used in these perimeters predate the time of Babur. Beautiful stone pieces bearing carved Hindu ornamentations like lotus, Kaustubh jewel, alligator facade, etc., were used in these walls. These decorated architectural pieces were anchored with precision at varied places in the walls. A tiny portion of a stone slab is sticking out at a place below 20 feet in one of the pits. The rest of the slab lies covered in the wall. The projecting portion bears a five-letter Devanagari inscription that turns out to be a Hindu name. The items found below 20 feet should be at least 1,500 years old. According to archaeologists about a foot of loam layer gathers on topsoil every hundred years. Primary clay was not found even up to a depth of 30 feet. It provides a clue to the existence of some structure at that place over the last 2,500 years.

More than 30 pillar bases have been found at equal spans. The pillar-bases are in two rows and the rows are parallel. The pillar-base rows are in North-South direction. A wall is superimposed upon another wall. At least three layers of the floor are visible. An octagonal holy fireplace (Yagna Kund) was found. These facts prove the enormity of the pre-existing structure. Surkhii has been used as a construction material in our country for over 2,000 years and, in the constructions at the Janma Bhumi, Surkhii has been extensively used. Molded bricks of round and other shapes and sizes were neither in vogue during the Middle Ages nor are they in use today. It was in vogue only 2,000 years ago. Many ornate pieces of touchstone (Kasauti stone) pillars have been found in the excavation. Terracotta religious figures, serpent, elephant, horse-rider, saints, etc., have been found. Even to this day, terracotta figures are used in worship during Diwali celebrations, then put by temple sanctums for invoking divine blessings. Gupta Empire and Kushan Empire period bricks have been found. Brick walls of the Garhwal period (12th Century CE) also have been found in excavations.

Nothing has been found to prove the existence of residential habitation there. The excavation suggests a picture of a vast compound housing a sole distinguished and greatly celebrated structure used for divine purposes and not that of a colony or Mohalla consisting of small houses. It was an uncommon and highly celebrated place and not a place of habitation for the common people. Hindu pilgrims have visited that place for thousands of years. Even today there are temples around that place and the items found in the excavations point to the existence of a holy structure of North Indian architectural style at that place.

Read more about this topic:  Archaeology Of Ayodhya

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