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Secrets of Sinauli: A Riveting TV Series and a Path-Breaking Discovery

Guest Opinion

“People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them’’ - James


Credits: PRINT-242

The Secrets of Sinauli is a historical docuseries, which recently released on 9 th February

on Discovery plus platform. Presented by the filmmaker Neeraj Pandey, directed by

Raghav Jairath and narrated by the versatile actor Manoj Bajpayee, the show depicts

what is believed to be the 'Discovery of the Century’, unravelling the mysteries behind

the excavations in the town of Sinauli.

Sinauli: A Path-Breaking Discovery

The series is about the archaeological site of Sinauli in Baghpat district, western Uttar

Pradesh. The excavations in Sinauli were conducted by Archaeological Survey of India

from 2005-2006, with the most recent excavations being done in 2018. The

documentary glorifies the discoveries made here during these excavations. The site at

Sinauli is believed to be the largest necropolis of the Chalcolithic period (2000BC to

700BC).The remains found here indicate that the site belongs to the Late Bronze Age

and was ascribed to the Harappan Civilisation (a Late Harappan Phase or Post

Harappan period) . One of the spectacular findings at Sinauli includes Ochre Coloured

Pottery Culture/Copper Hoard Culture, which was contemporaneous with the Late

Harappan Culture. The findings also indicate a contact with a pre Rigvedic wave of the

Indo Aryans coming to South Asia. This includes several wooden coffin burials, copper

swords and wooden carts with solid disk wheels protected by copper sheets.

Other Spectacular Discoveries

The artefacts discovered also include copper plated anthropomorphic figures having

horns and peepal leaf crowns engraved on the coffins which indicates a possibility of

‘royal burials’. For the first time in the history of the entire subcontinent, we have found

this type of coffin. The cover is highly decorated with eight anthropomorphic figures. The

sides of these coffins are also decorated with eight floral motifs. While coffins have been

discovered in the past during excavations at Harappa, Mohenjodaro and Dholavira;

never did they contain such elaborate copper decorations. All the burials excavated at Sinauli are surrounded by pottery around their body, big pots near their legs and small

bowls close to their head, indicating that the dead were laid down in the northwest

direction. The discovery of three pre-Iron Age chariots, also found at the site, poses a

challenge to the Aryan Invasion theory. The swords unearthed at Sinauli have copper

covered hilts and medial ridges making them strong and sturdy which suggests its use

in warfare. The chariots discovered have two wheels and these wheels are solid in

nature without any spokes.

Mythological Aspect of Sinauli

Many locals believe that Sinauli is one of the five villages that Lord Krishna

unsuccessfully negotiated with the Kauravas to avoid the epic war of Kurukshetra. The

Mahabharata carries many references of horse riding chariots, similar to those found at

Sinauli. In fact, a popular image of Lord Krishna is of him revealing the essence of the

Bhagwat Gita to the Pandava prince Arjuna, while sitting in his war chariot. However

this remains just a speculation as the excavator Dr. Manjul refuses this mythical story as

there is not any valid scientific evidence for it.

Excavations at Sinauli Raises Mysterious Questions than Answers

Were the swords found in the burials an indicator of warfare and violence or are they

simply a grave good? Who were the people connected with those swords and chariots?

Were the chariots run by bulls or by horses? If horses, then why due importance is

given to the Indo-Aryans invasion theory? Did this ‘royal burial’ indicate the presence of

a stratified society and to whom does this royal burial belong to? We don't know these

answers for certain but as the versatile actor Manoj Bajpayee says in the documentary