ASI unearths 9th century BC camping site in Ladakh

ASI unearths 9th century BC camping site in Ladakh

ASI unearths 9th century BC camping site in Ladakh

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has discovered an ancient camping site dating back to ninth century BC in the rugged terrain of Ladakh.

The site located on the way to Saser La was discovered by an ASI official during exploration work in Nubra Valley. Saser La leads to the Karakoram Pass in Ladakh.

“While exploring Nubra valley, ASI joint director-general S B Ota observed both sides of the hill and valley as the serpentine road gradually climbed along the Saser stream,” the culture ministry said in a statement.

After covering a distance of about 22 km, the ASI official noticed a section, exposed due to road construction, showing successive layers comprising burning residue and “immediately” stopped to explore the area.

“It was a small flat area with snow-covered peaks on one extreme, dry barren land with loose rocks all around and gushing stream within the deep western gorges - an ideal place for camping in a picturesque setting,” the ministry said.

A charcoal sample collected from the site was subsequently sent to the BETA LAB, Florida, US, for radiocarbon date determination in order to understand the antiquity of the  campsite.

“The outcome, i.e. 8500 BC (10,500 years ago), was beyond even the ASI’s expectation. Such an early antiquity on the basis of a scientific date was the very first for that region,” the ministry said.

In view of the significance of the evidence, a team of ASI’s senior officials, including Ota, and other experts inspected the site in July to assess the probability of further archaeological research. During this visit, more charcoal samples and associated bones were collected.

“Two of the charcoal samples from lower and upper deposits sent for dating have provided new radiocarbon dates of c. 8500 BC and c. 7300 BC (c. 10,500 and 9,300 years before present) respectively. These dates have indeed confirmed the earlier date,” the ministry said.

Besides, the new dates also indicated “repeated human activity” at this camping site for about 800 years. Preliminary studies of charred bones collected from the site, by P P Joglekar of Deccan College, Pune, have shown the presence of Gorel and Yak.

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox