Prior to scientific investigations, there was certain confusion about the early human existence in Kashmir. But the investigations carried out time to time by archaeologists to a greater extent have collected a date to trace out the early living system of the man in Kashmir.
The recent investigations under taken by the archaeologists at Overa valley of Pahalgam revealed few stone tools of Paleolithic ages.
These included the single edged stone blades and arrows identified by the investigators as tools used by the early men who lived in the caves of Overa valley.
Earlier to it archaeologists during their investigations of Manasbal valley revealed the imprints of early man in the form of his habitation abodes, which consisted of caves and some Paleolithic (early Stone Age) tools. The archaeologists then believed that these caves were used as shelters by the prehistoric man in Kashmir during early Stone Age periods.
The task of discovering pre-historic settlement was taken up way back by the archaeologists. The first investigation of this kind was initiated by Professor H D Sankalia when he explored the imprints of early man from Lidder Valley in as early as in 1969. He came across several ancient stone tools, which included a huge flake tool and hand axe.
These artifacts belonged to early store age period. These finds were later endorsed by similar finds form the upper Vishow and Rambiar valleys of Shopian and Kulgam districts, However, these finds could not throw any such light on the living styles of the early man, except this that perhaps the early Kashmiri man had used these tools either for preying of animals or protected their selves form the attacks of wilds.
It was not known where these people took shelter until the excavations at Burzhama and Gufkral archaeological sites revealed few cave pits besides stone and bone tools. The results of observations of these sites got further endorsed by the discovery of stone tools and finding of caves which were located here at varying heights of the mountain of Manasbal.
The earlier excavation of 1960s undertaken at Burzhama and Gufkral sites fairly yielded a good amount of information of prehistoric way of life. By finding of cave pits it came to be known that the people of the age had lived in caves, and while the discovery of burials helped to believe that they used to place their dead in graves either in crouching or in extended positions.
Several burials are reported were encountered by archaeologists in Burzhama excavation. One of the drawings engraved on a rock encountered here depicted a hunting scene which had suggested that the people of the settlement had been making prey of the animals, and using its meat for eating while the stuff for covering of their bodies.
Although the Manasbal tools have been displayed in the University Museum but the exhumed materials of Burzhama and Gufkral sites were taken outside the state.
The Burzhama collections which consist of thousands of ancient stone and bone tools since decades are housed in the reserved collections of ASI’s strong room at Puran Qilla New Dehli.
In fact due to non-availability of such archaeological materials, the local archaeologists, researchers and historians are unable to have a look of their prehistoric works and to understand the tools and instrument used by early man in their proper perspective.
It is stressed upon the authorities that steps may be taken which would facilitate the concerned agencies to acquire back the tools of pre-historic Kashmir. This would also enable researches to get an easy excess to the collections and their observations of these materials is expected shall throw more light on ancient history and culture of Kashmir.
Indeed there was a belief that the new generations have no interest in learning Kashmir history, but this myth has been proved wrong. New researchers of Kashmir history and culture have been emerging from the corners of this land are showing interest in history learning and writing. These scholars shall be encouraged at all levels.
Dr Arif Ahmad Dar from Palhoo Kulgam, is one of the budding researcher who has set an example by writing the book titled, “Hindu Kings of Kashmir” . The researcher in his this book has complied a history of Kashmir from its earliest times up to early 14th century AD, wherein he has attempted to draft a picture of this land’s ancient political, social, economic, religious and cultural history. In fact there are few repetitions and exaggerations in the book, but one thing is very much clear that the researcher has endorsed every statement with a reference.
Although the researcher has touched almost entire ancient period of Kashmir history, but his special focus has been on Hindu period, this period more or less is accounted from 7th century to early 14th century and plenty of archaeological, numismatic, epigraphic and literary sources of this period is very much available. It is a long period of about seven hundred years when Kashmir was ruled by about five major houses of local Hindu rajas, which included Karkota ( 600-855) Utpala (855-939) Yasaskara (939-1003), Lahura (1003-1171) and later Rajas (1171-1139).
These houses produced number of efficient rulers. Laltaditya, Avantivarman, Shankervarman , Didda Rani and Harsha has been the celebrated rulers of this dynasties. Their respective kingships and contributions towards Kashmir arts, crafts and architecture are well mentioned in the history literature of this land. In fact researcher has almost attended well the historical, social, cultural and architectural facts of this particular period, but I suggest he shall also focus on the numismatic, epigraphic and sculpture heritage of this land as well.
As young historian this researcher has made a good beginning and set an example for the new generation to learn history and explore the ancient history and culture of this land.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.