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New stone jar sites discovered in Dima Hasao
Ajit Patowary

Megaliths at Khobak and (inset) Lungmailai stone jar.
 GUWAHATI, March 29 - In a significant development, the State Directorate of Archaeology has discovered a new stone jar site in Dima Hasao district, known as Lungmailai in Gunjum area which had so far remained unreported. The Directorate has also confirmed the existence of two more unreported stone jar sites in the district – Harakilo and Chamkai.

Stone jar burial is a unique practice of Dima Hasao. Some of its stone jar burial sites were recorded in the 1930s.

The Archaeology Directorate team was led by its Director Dr Deepirekha Kouli, and it included technical officer Nabajit Deori, photographer Apurba Gogoi, foreman Arupjyoti Deori, driver Hussain Ali and data entry operator Uttam Sahu. It was assisted by Dima Hasao District Cultural Officer P Jemi.

The team conducted extensive survey and exploration in the district between February 23 and March 9, 2016. This was the first such venture of the Directorate in this hills district, said Nabajit Deori.

The archaeological potential of Dima Hasao District was first recorded by JH Hutton and JP Miles in 1932. They reported the existence of the unique monolithic stone jar sites of the district.

The Archaeology Directorate team also visited the previously reported stone jar sites of Bolosan, (presently Nchebanglo), Khobak, Derebere (presently Dubunglu) and Melongpa.

Bolosan deserves the sobriquet of the largest stone jar burial site. There, Hutton and Miles had found over 400 stone jars. But the Archaeology Directorate team found there 217 monolithic jars in various shapes and sizes. Of them, 139 are intact and the rests are partly or completely damaged under the impact of the natural forces and anthropogenic activities.

At the newly discovered site of Lungmailai (N 25°21'21.3": E 093°01'26.7") which is approximately 15 km off the south western side of Gunjum, the jars are scattered over an area of about three acres in three clusters. At the site, 59 monolithic stone jars have so far been counted and documented by the Archaeology Directorate team.

Among these, 36 are intact while the rest are partly or totally damaged. Comparatively, this site is in a better condition than the other stone jar sites of the district, said Deori.

However, the most noteworthy find of the team in the exploration is the discovery of a unique megalithic site near Khobak village, bordering Meghalaya. The megalithic site is located about 3 km north-west off the Lungzeebel stone jar site of Khobak, an Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) listed site.

Here, the shape, size and construction pattern of the megaliths are highly uncommon and unique in nature. The dominant variety here is an uncommon dolmen (portal grave or quoit).

Further, the team explored the Thongi area on the Manipur border and found several ancient megalithic remains. The megaliths of Thongi are mostly menhir type.

Again, a typical cist burial site is also found in the north bank of the historic Nreugai Lake of the Zemi Nagas, Deuri said.

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