Skull mystery solved

 The mystery of skulls found at drains in Annigeri of Gadag district has been solved at last.

The State Department of Archeology and Museums has confirmed that the skulls were of those who died in ‘Dogi Bara’ (skull famine), the most severe famine that claimed several lives in the region during the 18th century. The Archaeology Department has prepared the final report in this regard and it will be submitted to the government soon.

The carbon dating report of the US-based Beta Analytic, a radio carbon dating laboratory, observed that the skulls were around 180 years old and that they were of those who died in the famine of 1830. Interestingly, there are references to the famine and its severity in other records and books.

Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency on Dharwad, complied by James M Campbell in 1894 mentions the frequent famine in the region from 1791 to 1877, which had devastated human life. These famines were compounded by the outbreak of epidemics like cholera and smallpox and killed a large number of people besides forcing mass migration. The gazetteer mentions the Dogi Bara (skull famine) and Byani Bara (terrible famine), which struck the region.

The officials at the State Archaeology Department said the carbon testing report from Beta Analytic has clarified that the skulls were 180 years old. Based on the findings of the report, officials conducted extensive research, referred documents, old gazetteers, manuscripts and concluded that the skulls were of those who died in the famine.

Hundreds of people had died of starvation in the severe famine and the bodies of many were eaten by vultures and animals. In search of food, scores of people of these parts migrated to other areas during this period. When they returned to their villages after some years, they buried the skeletons of their family members who had died in mass graves. Hence, the Archaeology Department has concluded that the Annigeri skulls which were discovered in August 2010 belonged to those who died due to the famine between 1792 to 1796.

The department will submit its final report to the State government in the next 15 days and it will appeal to the government to conserve the place by declaring it as protected area.

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