Malhar, Dt.-Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh
- July 2009 -2011, Dr. S. K. Mittra
- 21°53’54.34” N; 82° 16’36.91” E
The Excavation Branch-I Nagpur, of the Archaeological Survey of India, under the direction of S. K. Mittra, carried out excavations at ancient site of Malhar (21°53’54.34” N; 82° 16’36.91” E) district Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh. The ancient city of Malhar (Mallalapattana) falls within the ancient territorial jurisdiction of the Chedi (Cheti) later identified as in the region of Dakshin Kosala Janapada. The site has revealed five major periods of occupation, mainly arrived on the basis of ceramic finds, structural evidences, palaeographical and numismatic evidences, they are:
- The pre-Mauryan level was yielded ceramic finds. The general shapes represented in red ware and dull red wares are storage jar, medium to big vases and small bowls. The red slipped ware is mostly represented by carinated handis, vases and basins. The black and red ware consists of convex profile medium size bowls, carinated handis and small shallow basins. In the limited excavated area, no structural remains have been found.
- The Maurya-Sunga level was yielded with scanty structural activity. The period is mostly identified with the help of few antiquarian and ceramic finds of the period. The ceramic finds are mostly in continuation of the previous period except the black and red ware and the sturdy red slipped ware which almost discontinued in this period. The ceramic finds of red ware, dull red ware and red slipped ware continued in quantity and shape with a new introduction of black slipped ware mostly confining to the shapes of bowls and shallow dishes. The notable antiquarian finds includes a broken, highly decorated stone plaque, highly polished chert ear stud with multi-facetted design. Other finds include stone beads of semiprecious stones, terracotta objects, few fragmentary finds representing inscriptional evidence in the form of a broken sealing datable palaeographically to this period.
- The ceramic finds of the Pre-Gupta level include red slipped ware, black slipped ware, large quantity of finger grooved single and double holed backed tiles having rice husk impressions. The pottery shape includes storage jars; big, medium and small globular bodied vases and basins; small to big vases; lipped rim; flask and lota. Number of saddle and querns represents the kitchen items etc. A singular find of Rouletted ware sherd is a noteworthy find of this period. The antiquarian finds includes human and terracotta figurines, wheels, hopscotches, beads mostly representing the arecanut shape, semiprecious stone beads, ivory dice. Apart these, iron antiquities were unearthed in the form of nails, knife, arrowhead, spears, rings and spoons. Quite a few number of terracotta sealings with legends which on palaeographical grounds can be assigned to the Kushana- Satavahana period. An important circular sealing, recording the name around the Brahmi letter ‘ma’ starting in anti-clockwise fashion mentioning “yuvaraajsya vaashishthiputrasya gutalaashiya”. The central letter ‘ma’ mostly is identified as “Malhar symbol”. another one of them read “ran~yo sivamaghasa(si)ra(ri)sa” and the other depicting a seated humped bull to right and below the legend within a parallel margin reads “rusabha yasa”, both sealings are assignable to 1st Century BCE-CE on the basis of palaeographical studies. A Satavahana silver portrait coin of Vashishthiputra Pulumavi, Just below this, a two-room Satavahana brick structure was excavated with an open lime plastered verandah. Apart this many burnt brick structures with single or double rooms connecting walls having number of courses in proper alignment and steps was also unearthed.
- The Gupta-Vakataka period is identified on the basis of findings of a silver seal carrying legends in typical Brahmi characters of Gupta period and another one is carrying box-headed Vakataka palaeographic characters. The pottery finds includes dull red ware, red slipped ware, some sherds of dull grey ware and a sizeable number of sherds carrying stamp designs include crescent moon, swastika clockwise and anti-clockwise, star, floral, geometric and tri-ratna. Structurally, it has yielded burnt brick built rooms of various sizes, drain and walls. In association with these structures, bigger post holes dug through the brick and good numbers of grooved tiles were also found. The iron antiquities mainly represented with the types found in Period III with additions of scissor, razor etc. The other antiquities included terracotta human and animal figurines, circular stamps, ear studs, beads, ivory dice terracotta and semiprecious stone beads.
- The Later Gupta Period is clearly distinguished by its structural remains where majority of the structures are built of broken bricks, brick bats and is associated mostly with locally available stones. Except the broad outline, not a single structure has been found having a complete house plan.
The ceramic finds consists of red ware, dull red ware with little influx of stamped and decorated sherds. The antiquarian remains are represented by iron nail, arrowhead, axe, beads of semiprecious stones, terracottas and other finds. The ancient moat surrounds the ancient fortification and is still living.