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Lost civilization unearthed, Vangchhia is root of Mizo cultures: ASI

Mizoram

Lost civilization unearthed, Vangchhia is root of Mizo cultures: ASI

Aizawl: Mizoram, the northeastern state of India has housed a lost civilization with the recent  discovery of a historical site at Vangchhia village in Champhai district in the  northeastern part of the state by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which date back to 600 BCE.

Located close to the Myanmar border, the lush forested village of Vangchhia lies nestled in the Champhai-Farkawn mountain range. For years, hundreds of megalithic stone sentinels or menhirs have stood guard in this little village, which may hold the key to hitherto unknown facts about  the state in particular and northeast India in general.

Vangchhia is the only protected site in Mizoram where 170 Menhirs have been protected by ASI in 2015.

Giving a power presentation of the finding after excavation at a press conference here, Dr. Sujeet Nayan, the deputy superintending archaeologist, ASI Aizawl circle and director of excavations at Vangchhia said that the village was the root of Mizo cultures.

The region has not witnessed much Archaeological activity in the past and its archaeological remains have largely gone un-noticed.

“With the excavation of  about a 2400- year-old historical site, Vangchhia culture  will open new history to trace the origin of Mizos,” he said.

According to Nayan, the exposure of the megalith site at Vanchhia to the public began in 2010 when a team from Mizoram chapter of Indian Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) led by it convener P. Rohmingthanga visited the village.

The excavation began in 2015 – 2016 and thereafter in February 2017 and the ongoing excavation began in January this year, he said.

So far, more than 120 structures, including 39 burials and water pavilion  spread over almost 10 square kilometres, have been exposed and documented, he added.

According to Nayan, 170 menhirs were protected and about 90 menhirs were discovered so far this year.

He said that it could be one of the largest necropolis sites in the world, besides providing clues to an ancient civilization.

The whole site is so extensively spread out in a proper lay out with street, residential block, burials, street and pathway,  stairs for movement from One Terrace to another Terrace, (15 Terraces are being probed so far), bund, defense wall, bastions, retaining walls, water pavilion for harvesting rain water and might be used as an amusement too, because of carved human foot, fish motif, elephant motif etc) or may be for attracting birds and animals for hunting purposes.

There are four petroglyphs on the way to Big menhir. The structures are made out of semi-dressed / dressed stone masonry applying mud mortar  and quarry site has also been noticed near big menhir.

Nayan said that sample of charcoal was sent to Florida in US for carbon dating.

Rahmingthanga said that the archaeological site of Vangchhian is eyeing the coveted UNESCO World Heritage Site.

He said that massive efforts were on to declared the site as protected world historical site under UNESCO.

The site is located at a distance of 64 km from Champhai, the district headquarters and 259 km from Aizawl, the state capital of Mizoram. The geographical area of Vangchhia village is about 40 kms and bounded by Lianpui village in the north and Sazep village in the west, Vaphai village in the south and Myanmar (Burma) in the east.

The heritage site at Vangchhia village first came to the notice of a retired IAS officer P Rohmingthanga in 1973 when he was the Deputy Commissioner of the then undivided Aizawl district. The final notification of the site as national importance was issued by ASI in February 2014.

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Mr. Khojol is a journalist based in Aizawl, Mizoram. He writes for various national and regional media houses. In his free time, he can be caught reading books and watching movies.

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